Many kids play sports, play football... But why do they decide to start playing?
According to a research of Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, these are the top 5 reasons kids play sports:
1. Kids like to play sports, because it gives them joy! = FUN
2. Kids like to do something they are good at. = FUN
3. They like to improve in what they know or can. = FUN
You might wonder where is 'winning' here. It isn't there, because it's not the main reason for kids to start playing. It was not even in the top 10! Of course, once they are competing they like to win, but it's not an essential reason to play sports in general. For parents on the other hand, its' often the only way they can observe somekind of development and result from their sporting kids, thus they find winning way more important.
To me, as a coach and educator, winning is less important than developing. Result on short term is winning or losing, while result over long term is the player and person they have grown into. And that is where our focus should be, by our I mean club/school, coach and parents.
When kids stop playing, it's in 70%* of the cases because of a lack of pleasure. This lack can be due to not having sufficient time, feeling not competent enough (lack of skills), but in most cases because of the pressure they experience. Pressure to perform, to win. Pressure from mom, dad, the coach, the teammates and eventually from themselves as well. For a kid, the easy way to stop this is to stop playing. Does it mean he/she doesn't like the game anymore? Not per definition.
I'm not a parent, but if I were, I would definitely stimulate my kid to play sports. As you know, I LOVE football, but he/she should choose which sports to play. Not football? No problem! To me, playing sports is mainly about motor skills, social and personal development and a healthy life style. That is what would matter to me, if I were a dad. Would I be happy for him/her is they win a game? Sure! Would I be proud of him/her if they loose, but played really well and put in hard work. NO DOUBT.
*resource: Aspen Institute Project Play Report