(WTNH) — The fields at a rec center in Washington DC are typically packed well into the evening with organized travel teams logging practice time.
For these athletes, it’s a commitment beyond their middle school soccer teams. But participation in organized sports of all kinds is on the decline. It has been estimated that as much as 70 percent of all participants quit by their teens.
George Washington Sports Scientist Amanda Visek, PhD, and her colleagues recruited nearly 250 players, parents, and coaches from a DC soccer league to define ‘fun’.
They started first by asking the study participants to brainstorm all of the things that make sports fun. The list was long.
Visek said, “Who would have thought that fun, this three-letter word, could mean 81 specific things?”
Participants then organized the 81 factors into 11 categories and rated the importance of each, determining the top three. ‘Trying hard’ was number 1, followed by ‘positive team dynamics’, and ‘positive coaching.’
Visek says parents play a vital role too. She says keep it positive, offer encouragement and support. Keep the focus on what kids are learning and ask what was most rewarding.
Sports scientists say ‘winning’ was one of the 81 factors that participants named, but it was not anywhere near the top of the list. ‘Winning’ was ranked 41.