Why do kids like to play soccer? What keeps kids playing soccer? This is an important question to ask because, according to the National Alliance for Youth Sports, about 70% of children in sports leagues quit by the age of 13 and never return. Why are we losing these kids and what can we do about it?
In 1990, the Athletic Footwear Association conducted a survey of over 20,000 kids nation-wide and asked children why they participate in sports. These are the top 10 reasons:
- To have fun
- To improve their skills
- To stay in shape
- To do something they are good at
- The excitement of the competition
- To get exercise
- To play as part of a team
- The challenge of the competition
- To learn new skills
- To win
The key to successful participation is ensuring that the kids have fun. Keep practices active; avoid long boring lines. Younger kids don’t need to run laps. Many dread this exercise and find it boring. Focus on improving their skills, integrate prizes, play games and scrimmages. Don’t focus on winning and foster the fear of failure. Teach them it is ok to make mistakes and engage in good sportsmanship between team members and other teams. If they have fun they will continue to play the beautiful game for many years to come.