The College has been abuzz with sports events these past two weeks with Swimming Sports for the Senior and Middle Schools and a very sunny and successful Senior School Athletics Day.
What has been most gratifying to see is the high level of participation from our girls. They have resolved to do the best by their House and give everything a go, whether it be splashing across the pool in a rubber ring or perfecting their gumboot throwing technique.
The atmosphere on these days is one of fun and connectedness – the girls dance, laugh, chant and cheer on their fellow house members.
If sport can be such an enjoyable experience then why do we so often hear about spectators losing it on the side line? Why do participation numbers in team sports drop off after school? Of course, we all like to win but for children this is not their main motivation in playing sport.
In a 2014 George Washington University study, 9 out of 10 kids said fun is the main reason they participate in sport. When asked to define fun, they offered 81 different descriptions and ranked winning at number 48, with young girls giving it the lowest ratings.
The top five definitions of fun were:
- Trying your best
- Coaches treating players with respect
- Getting playing time
- Playing well together as a team
- Getting along with teammates
As lifestyles become increasingly sedentary it is important to keep our kids playing sport for as long as possible and help them to develop a positive mindset that will encourage continued participation in adulthood.
Here are the top things we can do as adults to ensure kids continue to enjoy and participate in sport, particularly team codes:
Avoid Dissecting the Game Play By Play
Sports Psychologist at the University of Maryland, Elizabeth Brown, says they best approach to discussing a game is simply to ask whether your child had fun and then move on. “Let her bring it up if she wants to talk about it; otherwise, let it go, because kids don’t generally enjoy rehashing their game, good, bad or otherwise,” says Brown.
Give Kids Ownership of Their Sports Experience
Learning the best playing techniques comes from experience on the field or court, not from adults standing on the side line shouting for a player to pass or shoot for goal or get free. We need to let our kids find their playing styles as individuals and as teams, without worrying about mistakes made or losses sustained along the way.
We teach our children how important it is to respect the opposition and it is essential to extend the same courtesy to players in our own teams. This means that individual players aren’t singled out as the main reason for a win or loss – let all team members enjoy the part they played in the game regardless of the result.