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The Joy in Sport – Why Kids Play Sport

A very simple insight into what made Michael Jordan one of the greatest athletes to walk the earth was this simple mantra – ‘Just Play. Have Fun. Enjoy the Game.’ Even with all the training, pain, hard work and defeats that come with being a professional athlete, the driving force for Jordan was very simple. It was his love for the game.

We often get lost when trying to understand the ‘WHY’ in sport. In a world where professional sport has become a business that revolves around revenue, profits and winning at all costs, we forget why those athletes started playing sport when they were young.

Why Do Kids Play Sport?

A few weeks ago, we sat at a Coaching Workshop and asked the very simple question – ‘why do kids play sport? Going around the room there was a common theme, that kids play sport to be social, get exercise and most importantly to have fun. The video link above asks the same question to a few different children and you will notice that not one child mentions the word winning in their response. Coaches and parents can often be guilty of being sucked into the notion of winning, but we must always remember to ask ourselves ‘what is in the best interests of the child?’

Keeping Kids in Sport

It may sound simple, but as a Sports Department it is our goal to have all ATC students playing sport. More importantly, we want to keep all our students playing sport. We do not look at our students sporting journey as just their time at ATC, it is our goal to foster a lifelong engagement in physical activity so that students can enjoy a long and healthy life. This video link discusses some of the potential obstacles to keeping kids in sport and the strategies we can employ, but it also touches on reasons why some children shy away from sport.

At the College, we promote the value in supporting boys playing multiple sports throughout the year. The obvious reason is it avoids early specialisation but the not so obvious reasons are just as important. Research shows that injuries due to overuse, a focus on winning and undue parental pressure some of the main reasons why boys lose their love of sport. The notion of enjoyment in playing sport is crucial and we take this responsibility seriously at ATC by creating and nurturing an environment where boys want to continue play and be active participants in sport.

Our Goal at ATC

As you may have guessed by the theme of my blog, the goal of the Sports Department is to make sport fun! Creating positive experiences for our students is our number one priority and is the message that has been passed throughout our coaching ranks. The Co-curricular Department has come up with a purpose to ‘Inspire, Engage, Accomplish’ and the key to doing so is ensuring the boys are enjoying what they do.

For those looking for a Thursday funny, take a look at one of my favourite coaching videos!

Have a great weekend of sport!

Nathan Burgess
Head of Sport & Coaching Development