Having Fun is Key to Successful Youth Sports Season

In what is a both expected and yet still very gratifying result, coaches once again most often identified ‘Fun’ as the one word they would use to describe a successful season. The image below represents the word clouds created using a Mentimeter poll over the course of three coaching clinics the last couple of weeks for the Flag Football Fanatics coaches. Word clouds are built showing all the responses from the poll. Responses provided the most often appear in larger font and in the center.

I enjoy including these word clouds in posts (see here and here). It helps validate my philosophy while also showing that the coaches who are participating in the clinics get it – the primary measure of success for a youth recreational sports season is that the players have FUN.

I also like seeing the other words that coaches use (and those who apparently have trouble following directions and use three words…’experience working team’!). Other words/concepts that appeared frequently include:

  • Learning/Education/Growth/Development/Improvement/Better; As I’ve written before, one of the most important roles a youth sports coach plays (and my favorite) is that of a teacher. In the clinics, I provide a statistic from a Sports Illustrated for Kids survey done a while ago that found:

95% of the children said the #1 quality in their ideal coach is the ability to help them improve their skills

  • Encourage(ment); I recommend to the coaches that they be more positive than negative in their comments to the players. I tell them that they should applaud the players’ effort regardless of the result. The development of the skill or technique will come…so long as the player is encouraged to continue to work at it.
  • Teamwork; This is one of the key benefits of playing youth sports. More and more we are asked to work in teams. Young players learn very early that to be an effective teammate, you sometimes have to lead, sometimes follow, and many times compromise to get along and achieve whatever goals your team has set.
  • Friends(hips); According to the March 2021 State of Play Central Ohio report by the Aspen Institute’s Project Play initiative, the number one reason kids said they played sports was “to be with friends”.

Once again, I was able to discuss my Hustle & Attitude philosophy and provide practical tools and tips to almost 100 coaches in hopes of helping them have a successful season. And, again, not surprisingly (but reassuringly), the majority of them agreed with me that the players having fun is the most important contributor to a successful season.

Published by Chad Millette

I am a father, a husband, a retired Air Force officer, and a dedicated youth recreational sports advocate.

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