Should we push our kids to play team sports?

Should we push our kids to play team sports?

This is really two questions.  Encouraging children to play sports is important for their health and wellbeing, although not all children like sports. There is a fine line to walk between encouraging and being ‘pushy’.  We think that ‘pushiness’ can be due to a belief the child has talent and should make the most of that, or the parents once played and expect their child to follow their footsteps.  Most people will do things they enjoy – sport needs to be enjoyable and fun – then being pushy isn’t needed as much..  A little nudging is often needed to get children out on a cold morning or over the hurdle of joining for the first time. More nudging may be needed take a risk, try out for a higher standard or challenge themselves. It is important to encourage effort and reaching personal goals rather than winning or being one of the best.  Be conscious of what you praise or respond positively to as that influences the child.  or example, ‘Did you play well?’ focuses on the outcome whereas ‘Did you enjoy it’ or ’Did you work on improving today?’ focuses on the process. If the nudging is focused on enjoyment, progress and perseverance, this is more likely to be received well.

In the case of team sports, the sense of belonging and the social fun can be rewarding over and above being active and the game itself  – this is less prevalent in individual based sports.  We live and work with others so learning to cooperate, communicate, share responsibility, value other’s contribution and to deal with feelings of being let down or letting down others is a key part of life.  There can be a great deal of heightened joy that can be experienced together by taking on a challenge and giving your best as a team.  So team sports add a whole new set of benefits over predominately solo style sports (e.g. Gymnastics, athletics, swimming).

This article offers a balanced perspective and a few tips.