Competitive Sports – What Parents Should Know

Posted on Monday, April 28th, 2014  |  


Competitive Sports- What Parents Should Know

By Doreen Bolhuis, President and CEO of Gymco


I listen to many parents who feel frazzled during the Fall, Winter, and Spring sport seasons.  Driving to practices, attending competitive events, and the cumulative expenses can create stress for families.  Often, families sacrifice dinner together, recreation time together, attention to other children, and time for family conversation. With regard to competitive sports, let’s examine what the research and the experts tell us…


“A recent study of nearly 300 youth recreation-leaguers suggests that winning games doesn’t necessarily lead to a child’s sense of enjoyment or fulfillment through sports participation.  Rather, the study found, an environment that promotes having fun, self-improvement and maximum participation and effort is more beneficial to young athletes’ growth.  Researchers found that young people thrived in “mastery motivational climates,” which stress effort over competition, compared to “ego climates,” in which winning is supreme and personal success is measured by competition results.” The information was published in the November, 2007 issue of Athletic Business magazine.


In other words, kids just want to have fun!  And new challenges, getting in the game, and new accomplishments are fun for kids.  On the NOT FUN list are rules, grueling work-outs and screaming, pushy parents or coaches.  Competing too early can create negative emotions about sports that endure for a lifetime.  Competition and winning may be important to adults, but it’s not what kids are thinking about.  Kids are eager to learn and to participate.  They want to be physically challenged, master new skills, socialize with other kids, and be active.  Parents can promote life-long physical activity for kids by providing positive learning experiences for them.


How?  By helping them develop all of the core physical competencies needed for future sports participation and by providing a supportive, non-competitive environment.


Young athletes need to try all sports; they need to develop a vast range of physical skills and discover what they’re best at.  Multiple sport experiences teach kids the skills they need to participate in school sports during middle school and beyond.  In contrast, focusing on one or two competitive sports too early can short-circuit the learning process and subject young athletes to burn out.


For lifelong health and wellness, getting in the game is more important than winning the game!  The payoff for developing well-rounded physical skills is a child who is skilled, confident, and who develops a love for lifetime physical activity.


The Gymco mission is developing confident kids who have the ability to excel at any sport.  “Gymco kids” become excellent athletes in a wide variety of sports because they are trained in body control, strength, agility, flexibility, spatial awareness, reaction time, motor skills, eye-hand coordination – and more.  The comprehensive athletic training kids get at Gymco is a lifetime gift that will enable them to get in the game instead of watching from the sidelines!



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