Every parent wants their child to be interested in the sports that they are into and to be the best player in the class, unfortunately, that is not always the case and many parents struggle with this and push their kids into activities they don’t like which can have a negative affect and turn your child off sports completely.
I have been a coach for over 10 years and I have seen every scene play out;
Kids who are super keen and will try all sports, kids who are keen but are very shy and won’t take part, kids who just straight out have no interest.
I’m sure as a parent you can relate to one of these situations.
From experience, the most important piece of advice I can give is for you as a parent, to encourage your child to play a sport they express an interest in, research the companies / coaches who provide this activity (your child will develop a bond with the coach, you want them to be a positive role model) and finally be patient with your child, don’t force them. Kids have good and bad days at sports just like adults but once they are still enjoying it, then keep it up.
There are plenty of ways to encourage and motivate your child to play sports. Yet, not all are very effective in the long term. As a Coach, I personally find that the most effective method to motivate a child is for the parent to be a player. Many times, parents get carried away and become a coach. Leave the coaching to the Head Coach and just enjoy the play time with your child. Throw and catch a ball with your child as often as you can. Take them to the park and kick the ball around. This creates a unique bond between the parent and the child. Over time, the child will develop a liking for the sport and look forward to the sporty-play times.
Always praise their effort and not the result.
You can also try bringing your child to watch a sports game and get them a team jersey. It’s great to make it a family event! This works really well and kids love wearing their jersey around. Get them to watch a few star players and praise the child by associating him or her with the star. For example, if your child is learning to dribble the basketball, you can praise them by saying “wow, you are just like Jordan”. It may sound silly, but kids love it and they want to be like their stars.
The last method that works well is to set up a reward system. This works not only for children but also for us adults. Not all rewards have to be material gifts. Reward your child by bringing them to a carnival or to the latest cartoon movie. This works for the entire family as it’s a great way to bond!
If you find motivating your child is exhausting, then maybe as parents, you have to accept that your child needs a break. Let them explore music and the arts. Allow them to pick up a book and read. Eventually, they will be rejuvenated to catch the next ball you toss at them!!
Will is one of the founders of Sport4Kids (now ProActiv Sports) in Hong Kong and was the driving force behind bringing it to Singapore in 2014. Will obtained a degree in Sports Science and Health, from Dublin City University and has vast experience coaching children and adults of all level and abilities. Will is experienced at coaching in a wide variety of sports with a particular interest in Soccer, Basketball and Gaelic Football. He is also a very keen sportsman having represented Ireland in underage basketball and Gaelic Football.