While it may not suit everyone, getting our twins involved in sports was one of the best decisions my wife and I made. It wasn’t an easy road, but one that was worth it in the long run. If you want to get your kids involved in sports, here’s some suggestions.
Figure out what sports interest them.
It was difficult to pinpoint just what it is my daughter liked to do. My son, on the other hand, was a little bit easier. He somehow developed a passion for hockey by using a toy golf set in the basement of our house.
The task became where to find the best place that would teach him both how to skate and play the game of hockey. Did I mention that our son was only 3 ½ years old? We lived in a strange city (Omaha, Nebraska) and we knew almost no one. Fortunately, at the preschool where our twins were enrolled, they had local community newspapers that had advertising about local clubs. I found two ads for local programs and one, for whatever reason, stood out to me. That’s the one we chose.
Pick an organization that promotes learning.
Some leagues are less about and having fun, and more geared towards winning at all costs. These are the ones that I recommend staying away from. A point that should be heavily emphasized is that the sport should be fun. This will ensure players will want to continue to participate in the sport for years to come. Of course this would apply to any activity whether it be sports, or something else.
Make sure it’s a good fit for you, as well.
Make sure that you are comfortable with the coaches or instructors that will be interacting with your child. USA Hockey, for example, has safeguards in place that require background checks. Go watch a practice or a game, and see how the coaches interact with their team. Now imagine your son or daughter on that team. Are they a good fit? As a coach I try and take the time when the team is struggling to talk to them. I tell them we’re having a “Brain Fart Moment.” (This goes over with big laughter from young children.) It endears you me to my team. Children take their cues from the ones that they are learning from. I still have parents of players that I coached years ago tell me that when their child was playing for me, it was one of the best seasons they have ever participated it.
Decide your role.
I didn’t just want to be be the father that dropped their child off at the rink, and then picked them up afterwards. I wanted to be involved. With sports there is always a need for coaches, managers, and league liaisons between the organization and each or the teams (or if it is an individual sport, the athlete). Remember, everyone is a volunteer. The coaches do not get paid to instruct the children that they coach. Volunteers are always needed to help make the experiences of all participants as much fun as possible. For younger participants, the focus should always be on having fun and not wins or losses. I became a coach for a game that I loved, yet I never played organized hockey growing up. I am now a Level 4 USA Hockey Certified Hockey Coach.
Keep an open dialog.
Open communication between the coaches/instructors and parents is vital to the success of the child having fun and wanting to continue to play/participate in the sport/activity. It will be harder for the child who is not happy for whatever reason to want to go to the next practice/game/event if they are not having fun.
These are just some of the things to consider when signing up your children for their activities. Remember to always support your children in their desires to participate and have fun, win or lose. If you have a coach/instructor that lives by the adage that the children are to have fun and not yelling at them all the time for mistakes that we all make then you’ve made the right decision, and your children enjoying their activities for a long time.
What sports are your twins involved in?