Starting Young: How to Get Your Child to Love Sports at an Early Age

international soccer toursAs parents, guardians, and even coaches, we all know the importance of organized athletics and the lessons a child can take away from them. So it makes sense that you would want your child to actively participate in sports, even while they’re still very young.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and playing organized sports at a young age can actually be good for your child from a developmental standpoint. However, it doesn’t take much for them to begin to hate it. Kids have a fine line between what they’re passionate about and what they don’t like, and you play a large role in determining which side of that line they stand on. So if you want your child to love sports, use these steps.

Don’t Stretch Them Too Thin

At a young age, it’s important for children to get a wide variety of different sports under their belt. Signing your child up for a few sports (2-3) a year is about as much as you want to do, however. Any more and your child won’t be able to invest enough time in each of the sports to really figure out which one they’re passionate about, and they will eventually dislike all of them. You also don’t want to overwhelm your child with one sport on a daily basis. If you want your child to love soccer, you shouldn’t have him/her play soccer Monday through Friday, go on soccer tours on the weekends, watch soccer matches every night, and play in tournaments in their free time. Too much of something is never a good thing, especially when it’s not their choice. Let them breathe in between practices, games, and tournaments. These can all be great ways to get them to love the sport, especially soccer tours, but all at once will have the opposite effect.

Encourage, but Don’t Enforce

If your child wants to bring their sport home with them and practice in the backyard or watch game clips, then you should be supportive. What you don’t want to do is turn it into a “lesson.” That’s not to say you can’t help them figure out how to nail a penalty kick, but you should only do so at their request. Let teaching opportunities happen organically, and be okay with it turning into something fun and completely different. These times are also great to talk to your child about the sport, and suggest remedies or simply just listen. There are 25 million kids around the world who play soccer every year, but maybe your kid isn’t one of them. That’s okay. These are still children, and while sports are absolutely good for them, so is having fun.

Your child will eventually have a strong opinion regarding which sports he or she wants to participate in, if any at all, and you should hear them out. Forcing your child to play a particular sport won’t teach them anything besides how to hate that particular sport. Remember to support them, encourage them, and have fun with them, and they’ll find their niche in life.