In 30 seconds, name a few things in sports that are more important for kids than winning. I’ll wait…
Got your list?
Chances are that somewhere in your list is having fun or feeling joy. If not, then you might want to compile a new list, because having fun is way more important to children than winning.
Whether it’s being amused while practicing a new movement or enjoying playing ball with their friends, it’s the joy that keeps children active. Children are not little adults, so we need to go the extra mile to make exercising more engaging for them.
How to make your workouts more fun for kids?
We asked a few coaches what is more important in sports than winning. The most common answer was in the lines of having fun. Here are the two best strategies they shared with us that can help you make your workouts more fun for kids:
1. Create a game out of exercises
Acrobatics coach Heigo Klaos shared his wisdom: “Where is the fun in the term circuit training? You’re right, there is non (at least for kids). But if you tell them that today we’ll go through an obstacle course, you can imagine their increased excitement.”
Sometimes kids ask me at the end of the practice: “Are we not going to work out today at all?” They don’t even realize that they’ve done every exercise I planned for them by just having fun.
Another great piece of advice comes from coach and training expert Merle Leiner, who is training overweight kids: “No kid wants to run 10 times around the stadium. That’s two kilometers! But if you present running around the stadium with some assignments, they will happily do it without even thinking about it.”
2. Multiply their positive emotions
Working out is not enjoyable and ‘cool’ for every child, and we might not realize it. It’s very similar to not liking math or music class at school. Coach Merle shared her know-how in this situation: “It’s necessary to find new exercises or sports where these kids have had positive emotions or at least haven’t had negative ones. This will help them enjoy being active.” It’s like replacing the regular fractions in a math problem with slices of cake. And who doesn’t like cake?
Therefore, the way you present the exercises and training goals has a great impact. Find the fun element in your workouts and leave kids wondering if they even had a workout today :)
On January 29, 2016 the third Youth Activity Forum took place in Estonia. The forum brought together coaches, club managers and reps from different sports federations who discussed issues in youth sports. This blogpost is from our blog series about learnings from innovative coaches and club managers who presented at the forum.