What makes youth sports fun for kids (Study)
A new study looks at what makes organized sports fun for kids, and some of the findings might surprise you.
"Our data indicate girls and boys are more similar than different when it comes to what makes playing sports fun," said Dr. Amanda J. Visek, an associate professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. "What counts most for girls and boys are things like 'trying your best,' 'working hard,' 'staying active,' and 'playing well together as a team.' These findings are the same for athletes at younger and older ages and across recreational and more competitive levels of play."
Visek's study is a follow-up to the original research she and her colleagues at the Milken Institute SPH previously conducted that engaged soccer players ages eight to 19 in concept mapping all of the determinants that make playing sports fun for players. The resultant maps, called FUN MAPS, uncovered 81 fun-determinants within 11 fun-factors.
This new study took a closer look at that data and found that, among the 81 determinants of fun, 'winning' ranked No. 40 in importance, scoring farther down on the list than many might have guessed.
At the same time, this study did find some small yet intriguing differences in fun priorities, depending on the age or gender of the young athletes.
For example, younger players reported it was more important to have a coach who allowed them to 'play different positions' than older players. This study's findings underscore other research that suggests younger players are more likely to benefit from this strategy compared to older, more developed athletes.
"Sport sampling -- allowing kids to play several different sports -- as well as the opportunity for kids, especially those at younger ages, to get experience playing all of the different positions within a sport, is important for their athletic development," Visek said.
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