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Sports: Keeping Them Motivated

In order to keep kids motivated in playing sports, you should first understand the common reasons behind kids' reasons for quitting. Most often, kids quit sports because of several common reasons: they simply change their interests, they don't receive enough actual playing time, they have a fear of failure or injury, they experience the disapproval of others, they dislike the stress of winning, or they burn out from over-training .And while it is normal for children to find new passions as they develop their interests, watch for underlying problems.

Little League Online says, "We adults should be concerned, however, when young people quit baseball or any activity because their self-worth is threatened through repeated failure, adult criticism, or inordinate stress. You and your child's coach are responsible to see that playing baseball enhances your child's self-worth, not destroys it. Otherwise, it is best for your daughter or son to seek a more positive activity."

In fact, Family Fun says, "Kids who feel pressured to win are at risk for dropping out, says ASEP's school sports specialist David McCann. 'The two main reasons kids play sports is to have fun and to be with their friends,' McCann says. 'Winning is way down on their list.' Most kids would rather be active participants on a losing team, he says, than sit on the bench of a winning one."

So what can you do as a mother to encourage your children to not only enjoy their sports activities but to also stay motivated?

First, rather than comparing your children to other athletes, encourage them to set personal goals of improvement. Be careful not to convey the message that your children's self-worth is based on their performance -- in sports or otherwise.

Second, make sure your kids are not being over-trained. If children are practicing a few hours a day at the pressure of their parents or coach, they will most likely grow to resent the sport.

Make sure the sport is not dominating the free time of the child and he has time to thoroughly do homework, to spend time with family, to play with friends and to enjoy other pursuits.You can encourage inactive children to start up a sport by being a good role model and being active, by applauding effort, by supporting your children in their losses and by actually setting limits on sedentary activity.

And Family Fun recommends, "Don't just ask, 'Did you win?' Instead, ask questions geared to the sport experience such as: 'What was the best part of the practice/game?' or 'Can I help you improve any skill?' And, most important, 'Did you have fun?'"

Sources: Understanding Kids and Sports from Little League Online, based on Parents Guide To Little League Baseball by Dr. Marten ( When Winning Means Losing from FamilyFun (

Related Resource: Sports: 7 Sports Safety Tips 


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