When your kids are young it is important that you keep sport fun.
You might think, “Well it’s a game… it’s going be fun regardless.”
This is simply not true.
We have all been to the soccer fields where 5-year-old girls are running around like a swarm of bees and there are parents on the side YELLING their brains out at these girls… WHAT??? Think back to when you were 4 or 5 years old, well at least give it a try. You didn’t care about the things that you care about now. Little kids don’t care about “perfect form” or the intricacies or rules to the game. Instead, they want simple and fun. I noticed this with my girls when they were 4 and 6 as I brought home authentic Baden game balls. It was time to get serious, right???
They quickly taught me that they didn’t want these “game balls”, instead they wanted sparkly, pink ones. Also, they didn’t want to run around the track within their lanes working on their “form”, they wanted to play tag, running in all sorts of crazy directions. The game of tag may not seem like a BRILLIANT way of working on foot speed and fast twitch muscles, but when your kids are young… it actually might be the best way to have fun while growing in these areas as an athlete.
We decided to get creative by taking an old mattress and setting it up against the wall so that we could kick the soccer ball into the wall. Instead of “real” skill training with cones and turf we are simply making up fun games together that include the soccer ball and a mattress. Little do the girls know, they ARE working on their skills and they ARE having the opportunity to fall in love with sport.
It is important that your kids have a GREAT first experience with sport. Let’s take basketball for example. Imagine that your 6-year-old daughter is on the playground and a 8 year old boy playing basketball passes her the ball. The ball smashes into her face because she wasn’t ready for it and before you know it she is SUPER embarrassed as tears are running down her face and she has to sheepishly walk away from the situation while the older boys laugh, like 8-year-old boys do. THIS is a BAD first experience and one that we as parents can help prevent.
Teach your youngsters to catch the ball with their thumbs facing each other, turning their thumbs and index fingers into an extended triangle. Encourage them to “see the ball” all the way into the triangle and to keep the triangle extended well in front of their face. Start with a large, soft ball and slowly implement a real ball when their confidence rises. Make up fun counting games and try to beat your record as a team together. Chest pass, bounce pass, overhead pass, push pass etc. HAVE FUN WITH IT and give your youngsters the ability to be ready for the 8-year-old boy on the playground. Imagine if your daughter or son was able to catch that pass and everyone around responded with “wow” instead of laughter. That would definitely help with their first experience with sport.
Aaron Dickson is from a coach’s family and has been around sport his whole life. He played hoops in college on a full scholarship (where he met his wife also a full ride hooper) and has been training basketball players for the last 10 years. Aaron is passionate about Jesus, his family, sport and discipleship which is why he started Pursuit Sports, a ministry that invites followers of Jesus (who speak sport at a high level) to disciple athletes through skill training. Pursuit Sports is very simple: we train skills for 30 min and do leadership development for 30 min in order to invest in athletes.