October 13, 2017

My kid picked soccer, but was just not into it. Here’s what I did next.


We all want our children to do well in life and for many of them it starts at an early age with sports. There’s nothing cuter than a group of little girls and boys chasing down a soccer ball like a tiny herd of cattle, or watching your child run the bases in a T-ball game. We love to sit on the side lines cheering them on and burst with pride when they make their very first home runs. As parents we love to see our children try their best and excel.

So, what do you do when your child isn’t good at sports? Do you have one of those children whose heart just doesn’t seem to be in the game? I see you raising your hand and I’m raising mine.

My son was the child running half-heartedly down the soccer field. He stayed on the outer edges of the action because he didn’t like to get in the middle of the scuffle, and he was almost always the first one to ask for a substitute. He was goofing off and looking the other way when the ball was coming his way. From time to time throughout the game he put forth a great effort and kicked the ball as hard as he could, and we could tell that he was really giving it his all. He looked at us with pride and yelled, “Was that a double thumbs up, Mommy?” Yes, buddy, double thumbs up!

Even with those occasional bursts of brilliance, he rarely, if ever, scored a goal. His favorite part of the game was the snack at the end.  He had been known to fake sickness in an attempt to stay home from practice.

You are the parent who is wondering why my poor child was being forced to play soccer. Yet, he was the one who wanted to play and was excited about this season starting.

As a parent, it can be frustrating to sit on the sidelines and watch your child get discouraged in sports. If you are anything like me, then you wish that you could transfer some of your own parental enthusiasm directly to them. Unfortunately, we cannot do that, but here are some tips to help them through the rest of the season:

1. Allow them to finish out the season.

If your child is not interested in a sport, that’s OK, but she should still finish the season. It’s important that children learn perseverance. Sports provide a safe way for them to learn the importance of finishing what they start. It’s a virtue that they will take with them throughout their lives.

2. Encourage them to try their best.

Let them know that you are their biggest cheerleaders. Sometimes all it takes for them to succeed is knowing that someone believes that they can.

3. Stress good sportsmanship.

Sometimes it’s hard to be supportive of those who are better than we are. It’s no fun to lose, but good sportsmanship is something that is so important. It’s also important to be a good sport when we win, let us not forget.

4. Listen to your child.

Take the time to talk to your child and find out what it is that he is not enjoying about the sport he is playing. Is he afraid? Anxious? Or does she just not like it? As parents, it’s easy to get frustrated when we see our children not giving their all, but there just might be something deeper that is keeping them from being able to excel.

5. Try another sport.

This is the perfect time for kids to try out sports. At younger ages, seasons are typically shorter and manageable. Perhaps this just isn’t the sport for them. Some kids do better in individual sports like tennis and golf, while others love team sports like basketball and soccer. It’s perfectly fine to let them try more than a couple. (Ask friends for hand-me-down uniforms to save money when sport-hopping, and it won’t put as much strain on your wallet.)

When all is said and done, it really does not matter if your child excels at sports. What matters is that he or she finds an activity that is fun and will help build healthy habits that can be carried into adulthood. If you can help him or her find a sport to enjoy, your child will excel in one way or another.


This post was written by Jenny Yarbrough, a wife and mother raising three beautiful children in Nashville. She stays busy homeschooling, sewing, designing patterns and writing, among the many other things that mothers and wives do each and every day.


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Avoiding youth sports burnout: how to keep your kids in the game