How to Encourage Youth to Try New Sports
The benefits of playing multiple sports are well documented. To name a few, playing multiple sports has been shown to enhance athletic ability and help children to not get tired of playing the same sport, as well as potential burnout.
It’s important to introduce children to multiple sports at a young age so that they can not only become better overall athletes, but as well allow children to decide what they like and help them find a sport that they are passionate about. Trying to get youth, especially teenagers, to participate in activities can be challenging. This can be due to many different things, including fear (Cullins, 2017).
However, there are many different approaches you can take in hopes to have them playing multiple sports. Below are a few methods that you can apply that should help you get these kids to at least try different sports and activities. Here are some tips for encouraging youth to try new sports:
Asking Appropriate Questions
Cullins (2017), mentioned how asking the proper questions to youth can help them to take on new challenges and look at them from a different perspective. For example, if you were to ask your child or children to tell you something that they excel at, and then follow up by asking them how did they become good at it, this will help them put new things into perspective (Cullins, 2017). Reminding children that they were not always good at that particular task/skill, but with practice, dedication and hard-work, demonstrates to them how they successfully taught themselves a new skill and how they got better at it (Cullins, 2017). Therefore, as a parent, you’re re-framing the possibly scary, new sport into a new opportunity to excel at something.
Tell Them About a Time When You Tried Something New
Parents, teachers, mentors, instructors and coaches alike all play a vital role in the development of how children play and behave during sports. All of these individuals are the biggest influencers in a child’s life, and are looked up to when there is a task at hand that appears challenging.
Sharing a time when you as a parent, teacher, mentor, instructor or coach first tried something new, can help them realize that not everybody was always good at something, whether it be math or shooting a basketball.
Explain to Them the Benefits of Playing Multiple Sports
It is very common for many athletes alike to play different sports in the offseason for the purpose of training and improving athleticism. Take Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs for example. Mitch Marner trains in the summer through the likes of badminton, a big difference from his typical hockey skates and stick.
Doing this may encourage a young hockey player, for example, who seems disinterested in trying badminton during gym class. Being able to shine light on kids role models can really be a huge motivator for them.
Let Them Choose the Sports They Want to Play
It is important for youth to have a feeling of choice when they are playing sports, so forcing a sport on a child isn’t the right thing to do. Trying to force a certain sport or activity onto a child can also result in them just not wanting to be there, and therefore will likely exert less effort as a result.
Overall, aim to not make the child feel forced into doing an activity. Be sure to ensure them that if they genuinely don’t enjoy it, they don’t have to stick to it. Doing so should take some pressure off of the child’s shoulders, and allow them to have more fun as a result.
At the end of the day, it really is all about the children having fun and developing physical, mental and social skills that should translate into future life success. The world of sport can truly be an amazing realm of life to be a part of. With this being said, just be sure to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for everybody involved.