Children play sports for many different reasons. Sometimes, they play just because they enjoy it, and that’s the very best reason to play! You also have kids who enjoy spending time with their friends, and who love the thrill of competition.
Whatever your child is getting from the sport, as long as its something positive, you should be happy. However, you don’t want to overwork your kid and ruin the fun and enjoyment they get from the game. An easy way to let your child have fun while still learning and building skills is to carefully balance actual practice and competition time with good old fashioned playing time.
It’s easy to turn training- meaning the time players spend building specific skills and working on improving overall endurance and physical health- into playing. Playing is less about building skills that can be used later and more about having fun with the game itself. A scrimmage game, running drills with other players, or even just playing another sport for an hour or so are all good things to do to keep kids from getting burnt out, which is the last thing you want. Plus, the big “secret” is that, whether they realize it or not, kids are still building skills as they play. If they play with others, they’re learning about teamwork and cooperation. Plus, if the play is physical, they’re still getting in their exercise and conditioning and working on hand-eye coordination.
Keep in mind that you can’t trick kids too much. If you’re really holding a full-on practice under the guise of a “game,” your kids will realize this. Likewise, if you’re constantly making criticisms during the course of a “game,” your child will not have fun. Games should be about fun, plain and simple. The criticism and “bettering” can come when it’s time to actually practice.