7 Ways to Motivate Kids to Play Sports

November 19, 2021 | USASF

We are exposed to sports at a very early age, whether it’s a Fisher-Price® basketball hoop, a Little Tikes® baseball bat, or a cheerleader outfit for your (parents) favorite team.

Sports play a large role in millions of lives. We love our sports. As parents, we want to find an activity that our children are passionate about, and the countless options provided by sports are why they are a popular first option. Let’s look at how to find your kid’s passion through sports.

Why Do Kids Lose Interest in Sports?

Parents push kids into sports for many reasons – overall health benefits, lifelong bonds, teamwork, leadership, improving social skills, and many more. However, many young athletes decide to step away from sports. The question is why?

It comes down to culture. We only want what’s best for our youth. But what’s best may not be what they want. They may be two very different things.

As adults, we can fall victim to pressuring our children to be a better version of ourselves, so we push them into activities they may not be passionate about. Consequently, there is a lot of pressure for the child, and that is a reason why many kids shy away from sports.

Another reason is the schedule of each sport. Parents and coaches pack as many activities into a week as possible. From practices to 2-3 times a week with games mixed in between, it’s not uncommon for kids to be playing a sport daily. Multiply that by 2 or even 3 if kids are involved in multiple sports.

Too much of anything can be bad and lead to burnout. Be cognizant of your child’s well-being. Give them consistent breaks and let them explore other passions outside of sports.

How to Motivate Kids to Play Sports

  1. Let them pick which sport they want to play. Don’t pressure kids to follow in your footsteps. They might have different passions than you and sports could be an opportunity to explore those undiscovered passions. Expose them to a variety of options and let them decide which appeals to them the most.
  2. Let them experience the game at a professional level. Once they decide to play a sport, take them to an event where that sport is played at a high level. We all remember the athletes we looked up to as a kid and trying to mimic their every move. Give them someone to idolize, even if it’s not you.
  3. Take an interest and play the sport with them. Get out there and make memories with them. Children learn and have fun when they are active, challenged, and doing it with the people close to them. Taking an interest creates a connection and shows your excitement for their newly found passion. However, don’t push them at a time they don’t want to. Take advantage of a time they are excited to be outdoors and playing.
  4. Set goals and celebrate when those goals are reached. Self-motivation is a skill kids will hold onto in all aspects of their life. Teaching them from a young age to set goals and create a plan to reach those goals will pay off for many years to come.
  5. Praise effort and be supportive. Not all kids are gifted athletes and that’s ok. As long as they enjoy the activity and are putting forth their best effort, that’s all you can ask for. Acknowledge their effort and accomplishments by rewarding them, taking them to get ice cream or to a movie. Avoid financial or material motivation.
  6. Keep it fun and entertaining. Make sports fun and let kids be kids. Keep in mind how a child’s mind works. Let them find the fun in sports and support them as they try new activities and explore their interests. Their enjoyment in the sport, the fun, should be the number one priority.
  7. Be present. The smallest gesture can have the largest impact. When they look over to the sideline, be there. Make it normal to show up for your friends and family. It’s a memory the child will never forget.

Give USASF a Try with the Club Finder!

Sports can be a great outlet for kids around the world, but sometimes it can be difficult to find a safe, supportive team to join. That’s where the USASF Club Finder can help.

We’ve done the research and compiled a list of many of the top Cheer and Dance programs across the country. With the Club Finder, you can find clubs and organizations in your area willing and ready to work with you.

Check out it out today!