Sport is deeply entrenched in Australian culture. There is no shortage of choice for our youth to participate in team sports. Team sports make up the vast majority of sporting programs at schools, and outside school (club sport).
So what if your child doesn’t like sport? Especially team sports?
We have a LOT of parents who reach out to us, desperate to find a form of physical activity that their child or teen will enjoy. Often, the conversation will go something like this:
“My child is not a ‘sporty kid’. We’ve tried a few different [team] sports and they are not a good fit for him (or her). They didn’t enjoy the competitive environment, the pressure, or the comparison to their team mates.”
“They’ve lost a lot of confidence. They’ve become quite self-conscious and are reluctant to try other sports. I just want them to find some kind of physical activity they enjoy doing which will help them get fitter, stronger, and help them improve their confidence. Something they WANT to do rather than me dragging them kicking & screaming!”
Team sports, or organised sport, isn’t for everyone. The danger is if we don’t find some form of exercise that is of a high enough intensity to challenge their growing bodies (to develop their strength and cardiovascular fitness), then those kids and teens will grow up with sub-optimal health. For example a weaker musculoskeletal system, lower bone density, reduced aerobic capacity, and with big gaps in their movement capacity. This can also lead to reduced self-esteem, lower confidence, and have a negative impact on their mental health.
In other words, they’ll grow up less healthy and with an increased likelihood that they will lead sedentary lifestyles as adults (increasing their risk of other lifestyle diseases). Research shows that youth who are active, and are exposed to lots of different forms of physical exercise/sport, have a much higher rate of participation in regular exercise as adults.
Why we have great success with kids who don’t love sport
One of the things I’m most proud of about Fitter Futures is the success rate we have with kids and teens who don’t like sport … Kids who aren’t naturally gifted “athletes” who often start with us feeling very low on confidence and with little self-belief in their physical abilities.
Fitter Futures provides an environment where these kids and teens can (and do) thrive. We have a culture of community, inclusiveness, and doing what’s best for each individual. That means we “meet the athlete where they are at” and we modify, scale or extend kids & teens based on their capability. We also have a strong culture of “being your best” – not being “the” best. We tell the youth we coach:
“Run your own race, have a positive attitude, embrace a growth mindset, and focus on doing your best every time you come. There’s no value in comparing yourself to others. Do those things, and you’ll be successful. You’ll improve!”. That success is what drives motivation.
So if your child or teen doesn’t enjoy sport, consider giving our youth programs a try. If our track record is anything to go by, your biggest battle will be getting them through the door the first time. After that, they’ll be begging you to come back.