A recent survey has shown that the main reason that kids drop out of sport is that they just aren't having fun anymore. While competition definitely has its place, a lot of children may feel unwanted pressure to perform rather than the working on skill development or just enjoying themselves.
Unstructured game time or an increased focus on practice time instead of competition is important in order for a child to:
- Create their own passion for their sport
- Transfer what they are learning into a game
- Prevent boredom and/or burnout
- Give them an opportunity to explore other sports and harness other skills
- Allow them to be social and have fun
Young children need a positive environment where players can learn the game at their own pace. Focusing on skill development and adding in the fun could make the biggest difference for a child forming a lifelong passion for sport.
References from the SIRC Collection:
1. Average Canadian kid gets about 8½ hours of screen time a day. Active Living. May 2012;21(3):26.
2. Aylward L. Let the Kids Play. Golfdom. November 2006;62(11):24-31.
3. Barrell M. When Can I Play Again? Getting Kids' Competition Right!. Australian Tennis Magazine: Asia & The Pacific. October 2011;36(10):60.
4. Howe B. Let the kids play...the top reasons why kids drop out of soccer. Down-The-Line. 2001;(4)
5. Melville S. Will kids be kids? Is play something that children do, or is it now something that must be provided for them?. Leisure Manager. August 1997;15(4):35-36.
6. Weinerth J. 4 v. 4: more passes, more fun. Survey shows involvement of players is far greater in small-sided games. Soccer Journal. January 2004;49(1):29-30.
7. Young C. The Importance of Putting the Fun Back In to Youth Sports. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal. November 2012;16(6):39-40.