5 Tips to Build More Fun Into Your Youth Sports Team
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In a post-pandemic world, it is more important than ever to get kids off their screens and back outside being active. A research study from TeamSnap in partnership with Aspen Institute examined just how critical having fun was in youth sports. The report showed that fun, mental health, and physical fitness are parents’ top three goals for youth sports. Fun was by far the largest preference, with 95% of respondents stating that the most important outcome of youth sports is for their child to have a positive experience. Here are five ways that coaches can add more fun into their youth sports team practices.
Remember Winning Isn’t Everything
Take away the fear of failure and losing by emphasizing that winning isn’t everything. Teach your team that there are lessons learned in failure, and that failure teaches how they can improve. Reinforce before and after every game that it is not about the number of points scored or whether or not you win today. Remind each player that it is about doing your best and having a positive attitude.
Build Positive Encouragement
TeamSnap’s research study notes that “Parents from across the U.S. and Canada reported a strong link between sports and their children’s social and emotional wellbeing.” Nine out of ten parents cite mental health as a top reason their kids participate in youth sports and athletic activities. For this reason, positivity is an important part of training, games, and team interactions. Moving away from the ‘we play to win’ attitude creates more fun for all participants involved. Using phrases like, “It looked like you all were having a good time out there,” and “I really enjoyed hearing you cheer on your teammates,” builds a positive culture for every member.
Integrate Unstructured Play
There is a lot of value in establishing a consistent and structured environment for your youth sports team. Kids often need stability and predictability to thrive. However, running a sports league should not be all work and no play. Kids also have shorter attention spans and need frequent breaks to stay on task. Integrate more unstructured play into your youth sports team’s schedule. Do this simply for the purpose of having fun. Games such as “Sharks & Minnows” and “Red Light, Green Light” get everyone moving and playing together.
Encourage Team Building Activities
Team building activities work to break the ice within a group and establish trust among teammates. Building consistency both on and off the field creates a stronger dynamic and better relationships. These intentional interactions help build a tight-knit team and foster a sense of connectedness between members. Check out some team-building tips and ideas here.
Build Friendships with Post Game Activities
Help build friendships with post-game activities like ice cream, pizza, or a team get-together. Kids can look forward to celebrating after the game, no matter the outcome. Make it a point following each game to have each team member share one of their favorite things that happened during the game or one positive thing they experienced.
Do you or someone you know need help managing their sports team or club? Sign up for a free 21-day trial today. Or check out our club and league solution, TeamSnap for Clubs and Leagues if your team is part of a larger sports organization.