New friends, healthier choices, trust and communication skills – these are only a few of the many benefits kids gain by playing sports. But if there are so many mental, physical, and social benefits from playing sports, why do 70% of kids stop playing by age 13?
It stops being fun.
Whether they’re burnt out, feeling pressured to succeed, or just simply bored, your players will be more likely to quit if they’re not having fun on your team.
Your players rely on you and their parents to foster a positive sports experience when they're at practice and at home. Let’s take a closer look at how you all can help your players have more fun.
4 Ways to Make Practices Fun
- Turn Your Drills Into Mini Games
Repeating a drill is helpful for building skills, but over time that repetition gets boring. Run it enough times and your players will check out. Get creative with your drills to make them more engaging.
Try turning your drills into themed mini games. Adding a theme can help players contextualize what they’re doing and get emotionally invested. Were your players going to run through an obstacle course? Switch it up and tell them they’re running from zombies instead. Engaging their imaginations with a creative theme will make the drill more fun while still building their skills and coordination.
Watch out tennis players, the court is lava! For this drill, have your players roll a ball down the alley as fast as they can using their rackets. If anyone rolls the ball outside the alley, their ball sinks into lava and they must start over. Your players will be too focused on avoiding the lava to notice that they’re also practicing coordination, improving focus, and learning the parts of a court.
- Experiment With Equipment From Other Sports
Variety is a key component of fun practices. Using drills and equipment from other sports can help your players practice their skills and coordination while keeping things fresh. Practicing jumping, throwing, sprinting, kicking, and catching all contribute to becoming a well-rounded athlete and healthy kid. Your players will have fun practicing relevant skills while experimenting with a new sport.
- Focus On Friendship
Kids have more fun when they’re playing with friends, so set aside some practice time for team-building activities. 10 minutes of trust and communication exercises can add up to a tight-knit, supportive team by the end of the season. Encourage your players to cheer each other on to build a positive atmosphere.
Giving your players space to let loose and be kids together can also build camaraderie. Try coordinating team-building events like parties outside of practice to help your team bond.
What’s the best way to cool off after a hot day? A water balloon fight, of course! Host a water balloon fight at your next practice so your players can cool down and let loose. Taking a break from drills to be playful with their teammates can help your players relax and bond (while also practicing their coordination skills).
- Don’t Drag It Out
Keep it fast paced! Kids have shorter attention spans than adults, and you’re bound to lose your players’ attention if your drills go on too long. Keep your drills on the shorter side and swap them out when your players start to seem bored. You’ll keep your players on their toes with new challenges and help them stay engaged.
2 Ways Parents Can Help at Home
For your players to have fun at practice, they need to feel supported at home. Parents play a huge role in determining how kids feel about sports, so encourage your players’ parents to get involved. Whether sports parents are volunteering for your league or supporting from home, modeling a positive relationship with fitness will show their kids how fun sports can be.
Here are two ideas you can share with sports parents who want to help their kids have more fun:
- Exercise as a Family
Developing a healthy relationship with fitness starts at home. Parents can help their kids develop a positive relationship with sports by practicing fitness as a family.
Encourage them to try:
- Riding bikes together
- Finding a sport to play as a family
- Taking a trip to the pool for swim practice
- Planning a camping trip with lots of hiking
- Signing up for an age-appropriate gym class together
By showing them how to have fun with fitness, sports parents can help their kids find more fun in their games and practices.
- Try Different Sports
Variety is the name of the game when you want to keep sports fun. Parents should encourage their kids to try a variety of sports to see which ones they enjoy the most. If they can’t pick a singular favorite, let them play multiple sports throughout the year.
Kids that play more than one sport can:
- Meet new friends
- Develop their skills year round
- Stay active during different sports seasons
- Focus on having fun rather than mastering one sport
Players need support from their coaches and parents to have fun at practice. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your drills, introduce some variety, and encourage parents to get involved.
Level Up Your League With LeagueMVP
Running fun and effective practices is only one component of managing a successful sports league. Take your league to the next level with LeagueMVP, Playerspace’s holistic sports league management solution.
With LeagueMVP, you can:
- Generate digital rosters to reduce time spent creating teams by up to 600%
- Quickly communicate with parents and staff through automated notifications, emails, and texts
- Keep kids safe with streamlined staff screening and secure data storage
- Prepare for next season by collecting, storing, and analyzing league data
Ready to level up your league? Learn more about how LeagueMVP can help.