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Front Page » April 18, 2002 » Opinion » Nurturing positive sports experiences
Published 4,538 days ago

Nurturing positive sports experiences


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By TOM LEE
USU Extension

The majority of youth in Carbon County will not pursue athletics as a career.

However, participating in organized sports can be enjoyable and the things youth learn from the activities can help them become contributing, positive adults.

Parents and adults can do several things to ensure that youth have positive sports-related experiences.

In general, parents and adults should support the philosophy that the basis for success in sports is having fun and trying hard.

They should help children be properly equipped and get them to practices as well as games on time.

Adults and parents should practice with youth to help improve skills and give praise and encouragement for effort and improvement - not just for being the best, the first or the fastest.

Carbon County parents and adults should consider emphasizing the following points to help children get the most out of organized sports:

•The first goal of youth sports should be to have fun.

If children have fun in a sports program, they will be motivated to continue participating in the activities.

Fun for a child usually comes just from kicking, throwing or running if adults don't add undue pressure to win.

Parental attitudes toward the coach, officials and other players are important.

The attitudes of the parents will ultimately communicate to young atletes how important learning, participating, having fun and personal improvement are, versus playing solely to win.

•Feelings of belonging and being part of a group are basic human needs.

Friends in particular and peers in general are critical to healthy development for children and teens

Team spirit and unity teach important traits of loyalty and cooperation for the good of the whole that can carry on into other areas or stages of life.

•Parents and coaches should help youth focus on improving past personal performance.

Comparing one child with other youth participating in a sports program can be risky and discouraging, since someone else may always be better.

The goal should be to help children compare themselves against themselves, then youth can always improve and identify personal goals to work toward.

It is important to remember that only a few youth will be the very best at any given sport.

Praise a child for being the best he or she can be.

•Physical conditioning is not usually the main reason most children participate in sports.

Usually, the primary objective for youth is to have fun.

However, the physical activity involved in organized sports can benefit a young participant's overall health.

•Playing a sport is more likely to be a positive experience for youth if it is something the children want to do rather than an activity parents and adults are pushing them to do.

Don't pus children into a sport because the activity was something an older sibling or parent enjoyed.

Let youth decide to participate in organized sports programs for themselves, based on their own personal interest.

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