Why Is Creating A Safe And Fun Sports Environment So Important?
Especially when you’re looking at youth sports, the athletes likely haven’t built up a passion for the sport they’re playing yet. Some may have, but many are probably just starting out or trying to find a sport that fits. This is why creating safe and fun spaces for them is so important! If a child feels that the sports they play multiple times a week are a source of negativity or sadness, their passion and enthusiasm for the sport will drop. They’ll either quit the sport or if they’re not allowed they will bring their negative energy to the team and affect the other players. Additionally, kids are kids! As great as winning is, at the end of the day, they are young people looking to experience new things, stay active, and enjoy their time out of school. Keeping the environment positive and fun is a great way to keep them excited and engaged!
How Can I Help My Child Enjoy Participating In Sports?
One of the most important ways you can help your child enjoy sports is by being your child’s number one fan, not their second coach! No matter how calm of an environment your child’s sports team has, there will be days that your child feels like performance wasn’t adequate. Especially if your child has a strong passion for their sport, their biggest critique may very well be themselves. This is why it’s so important to make sure they always have a cheerleader rooting for them! After a hard loss or a great game, make sure to show up for your child with positivity and encouragement. If there are critiques you have about their performance, wait until their emotions have settled to talk to them about it.
How Can I Make My Youth Sports Team A Fun Environment?
Remember Winning Isn’t Everything
We know this is hard to grapple with when you’re running a competitive sports team, but especially in youth sports, it’s important to remember that first and foremost your athletes are kids trying to have fun! So while winning is great and is always a confidence booster for your team, it doesn’t need to be the only benchmark for your team’s success. If your athletes are having fun and working well as a team, that’s a clear sign that you’re running a great team!
Incorporate Unstructured Play
Running drills, working out, and practicing are important parts of non-game time; however, they don’t need to be the only things you do at practice. Unstructured play is a great way to team build and allow your athletes to relax while still being active! Unstructured play creates a no-pressure environment for your team to have fun with each other and continue building trust between them!
Create A Positive Environment
Positivity is an incredibly important aspect of keeping your youth sports team fun. Sports are a great way for kids to learn responsibility so holding them accountable is important but being too harsh, especially on young athletes, can ruin the sport or athletics as a whole. Athletes should view their team as an encouraging and positive space. When they have a bad practice or need encouragement during a game they should be able to trust that their peers and coaches will be there for them. Leading with positivity is a great way to achieve this.
How Can I Make Sure My Sports Team Is A Safe Environment?
When trying to cultivate a safe environment for your athletes it’s important to consider both their physical and emotional safety. Creating a physically safe environment can be achieved by making sure you can always see your athletes while they’re practicing in case there is a hazard you’re not aware of. It’s also important to provide ample bathroom and water breaks. Also, be mindful of weather and temperature where applicable. Check-in with your athletes during practice to make sure the conditions they’re in are tolerable. If you’re not running and sweating beside them, it can be easy to forget how overwhelming something like the summer heat can be for them.
You can create an emotionally safe environment by creating a judgment-free zone. If players underperforming results in harsh criticism for the team, your athletes may create an inhospitable environment for each other out of fear of repercussions. A great way to prevent this is to make sure everyone feels free to be themselves and know that doing their best is enough. It’s also important to make sure your athletes know that they can come to you with any issues. Dealing with youth sports and the “tattle” mentality can be tricky; however, if you create an environment where athletes are encouraged to completely work out problems amongst each other on their own, there’s always a chance a serious issue can be covered up. While fostering independence and team building is important, don’t remove yourself too far from your athletes!
Where Can I Find Youth Sports Near Me?
Depending on how old your child is there are a few ways to get them involved in sports. If their school has sports teams that’s one option! Looking in your community is another excellent place to find a sports team. Community organizations often host different leagues throughout the year. The Police Activities League of Egg Harbor Township and Atlantic County has a variety of sports leagues and open sessions all year long! We have year-round sports activities including leagues, open sessions, as well as, family activity days that can be a great transition into getting comfortable at our facility! If you’re interested in learning more about the leagues we offer, get in touch with us!