What Makes Youth Sports Fun for Kids?

A recent study looks at what makes organized sports fun for kids, and some of the findings might surprise you. The new study, dispels the popular myth that what makes sports the most fun for girls are the social aspects, like friendships, while for boys the fun factor has to do with competition.

Data indicates girls and boys are more similar than different when it comes to what makes playing sports fun, according to Amanda J. Visek, PhD, an associate professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH). What counts most for girls and boys are things like:

  • Trying your best
  • Working hard Staying active
  • Playing well together as a team

These findings are the same for athletes at younger and older ages and across recreational and more competitive levels of play. This study did find some small yet intriguing differences in fun priorities, depending on the age or gender of the young athletes.

For example, younger players reported it was more important to have a coach who allowed them to ‘play different positions’ than older players. This study’s findings underscore other research that suggests younger players are more likely to benefit from this strategy compared to older, more developed athletes.

“Sport sampling — allowing kids to play several different sports — as well as the opportunity for kids, especially those at younger ages, to get experience playing all of the different positions within a sport, is important for their athletic development.

Organized sports are one way to keep kids engaged in physical activity — a habit that can help kids sustain a healthy lifestyle, keep them fit, and help them maintain a healthy body weight. More than one out of three U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and providing kids with higher quality, more fun sport experiences might be one solution toward promoting children’s health. When it comes to organized sports, kids just want to have fun.

Source: George Washington University

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