Making Youth Sports Experience more enjoyable with ‘fun’ factor

Youth baseball player in dugoutI’m on the rode a lot pounding out mileage to my team’s baseball practices, tournaments, player evaluation & player development events with Baseball Factory.  One of my favorite ways to chew up some time is listening to various Podcast.    Athletes by Design’s Podcast “Coach your Best”  by performance coach Jeremy Boone, is an excellent resource that has some excellent coaches, trainers, researchers, experts in various fields covering a broad sports & business world.

Several months ago, I listened to an intriguing podcast on the research from George Washington University, concerning why 70% of youth athletes quit sports by the age of Middle School and the health implication. The results of this study help researchers develop proven ways to keep kids involved in organized sports, which can help maintain a healthy body weight.

Amanda J. Visek, PhD, associate professor of exercise science at the George Washington University and her research team used a method called concept mapping in order to map “fun” in youth sport.   They asked 142 players, 37 coaches and 57 parents to identify all of the things that make playing sports fun for kids. When all of their ideas were pooled and synthesized, 81 specific determinants of fun were identified.

The research was phenomenal and broke down what the Top 3 Items that was important to the athlete, coach and players.  Under the main groups where subgroups underneath each item that provided specifics.

Top 3 Items  of Athletes, Coaches & Parents

  1. Effort (10)
  2. Positive Coaching (12)
  3. Being a Good Sport (9)

Listen to the Podcast here:

My take away as a coach made me refocus my priorities, purpose and bigger picture as an important role model to these athletes.  Under the subgroup of Positive Coaching there were 12 of 81 that prioritized my role in helping the athlete enjoy their sports experience:

  1. Complementing the Athlete
  2. Listen to players  & take their opinion in consideration
  3. Encourage the team
  4. Knowledge of the sport
  5. Clear Consistent Communication
  6. Jokes with the Athletes
  7. Participates with Players in Practice-Hands on
  8. Treats players with respect
  9. Allows mistake , while staying positive
  10. Role model
  11. Nice & Friendly
  12. Can Talk easily to

I noticed there was nothing mentioned about winning at all cost underneath Positive Coaching.


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