Intense and competitive sports can be thrilling for players and spectators alike, but they can be stressful and nerve-wracking for some people. Parents and coaches can do their best to make games a positive experience for everyone.
This list provides helpful tips to make youth sports less intense and more enjoyable. From creating a safe space for players to creating more opportunities for parents and coaches to become involved, these seven ways to make youth sports less intense will leave you with plenty of ideas.
1. Make Games Less Intense By Keeping Playtimes Short
Nobody wants to get too worn out from playing their favorite sports before they’re old enough to drive, but the truth is that intense sports like soccer, football, and basketball can be dangerous for kids if they’re played too often or too young.
Fortunately, it’s possible to enjoy intense sports without becoming over-exertive by playing them sparingly, following a good exercise program, and keeping playtimes under half an hour. While it might seem counterintuitive, keeping playtimes short can make games less intense because it lets kids stay more focused. The quicker they get into the game, the less time they’ll think about how hard they’re going or how much they’re sweating.
2. Involve Volunteers & Parents From The Start
Volunteers are a valuable resource for any sports program and can be great allies for parents. Some volunteers can help with registration, refs, and other administrative tasks; others can be coaches, managers, or team captains. Parents and volunteers can work together to make sure the kids in their sports program feel welcome and have someone to turn to when they have questions or concerns.
This can be as simple as assigning volunteers or parents to act as leaders in their sports programs. It can be as specific as making sure volunteers are aware of mental health issues and how to best support players who are feeling overwhelmed by their abilities.
3. Make Sure The Games Are Safe & Fun For Everyone
The best way to make youth sports less intense is by making sure they’re safe and fun for everyone. Kids in sports programs are at much higher risk of adverse outcomes than those in the general population; they’re more likely to suffer from chronic pain, injuries, and mental health issues. Parents can protect their kids by ensuring the games are safe and fun for everyone. This means following all the rules, including those meant to keep everyone from getting hurt.
It also means taking precautions against common injuries and illnesses, such as ensuring all facilities are clean and adequately maintained, staying aware of local weather patterns, following all vaccination guidelines, and keeping all equipment in good working order.
4. Encourage Player-Coach Bonds
Kids are more likely to form strong bonds with their coaches and teammates than their parents. This might be because coaches and volunteers are the authority figures in youth sports programs who have the power to make or break a player’s experience. It might also be because most sports coaches are in their 20s and 30s, while most parents are in their 50s and 60s, and these age groups often don’t cross paths while kids are playing sports.
Whatever the reason, coaches and players often form strong, intentional bonds. These bonds continually strengthen over time and can be an essential part of a player’s identity and confidence.
5. Keep Meet-Ups Out of The Games
Boys tend to be more competitive than girls, and they’re more likely to seek out and enjoy intense activities like sports. This often leads them to pursue more intense sports than girls’ sports, which can lead to a disparity between the sexes.
Parents can do their best to make sporting activities less intense by keeping meet-ups out of the games. This means avoiding teaching kids how to play sports, encouraging them to participate in other activities where they can meet other kids, and avoiding encouraging kids to be competitive. This also means avoiding participating in sports with your kids, as doing so can make them more competitive.
6. Stay Active With Your Kids Even After The Game
All youth sports programs should encourage kids to stay active even outside of the games, but some programs go even further. These programs are more likely to make sure kids are active at least once a day, even after they stop playing sports, and they’re also more likely to provide fun and social activities.
Kids who participate in these programs are more likely to stay active, whether they’re boys or girls. Keeping active even after the game can be a way to make youth sports less intense because it can lead to better health and a longer lifespan.
Kids spend considerable time playing sports, and most of these activities are intense and competitive. This can make sports feel stressful and overwhelming and negatively impact kids’ mental health.
If you want to make sports less intense and more enjoyable for your child, you can do a few things. Keep playtimes short and make sure the games are safe and fun for everyone. Involve volunteers and parents, make sure the games are safe and fun for everyone, encourage player-coach bonds, and make sure meet-ups are out of the games.
All of these tips will help you make sports less intense, and they will also make the games more enjoyable for everyone.