We know that the single most important factor in sports commitment and participation through childhood and adolescence is fun. And the lack of it is the biggest reason for quitting. But how kids define fun may surprise you (from the research of Dr. Amanda Visek, Fun Integration Theory).

There are 81 specific fun determinants!

Grouped into 11 dimensions (in order of importance):

  • Positive Team Dynamics
  • Trying Hard
  • Positive Coaching
  • Learning and Improving
  • Game Time Support
  • Games
  • Practices
  • Team Friendships
  • Mental Bonuses
  • Team Rituals
  • Swag

The first three are significantly more important than the rest as the youth sports ethos and offer 28 specific fun ideas that promote a culture of fun without sacrificing individual and team achievement.

Best practices for coaches and parents:

Positive Team Dynamics

  • Playing well together as a team
  • Supporting and being supported by teammates
    • Efforts to create a positive, encouraging and supportive team culture is essential. Sportsmanship is key!

Trying Hard

  • Trying your best and working hard (acknowledge effort)
  • Exercising and being active (beware long lines for waiting for drills

Positive Coaching

  • When a coach treats a player with respect
  • When a coach encourages a team
    • Make a safe space for mistakes as a learning opportunity

Here is a resource that breaks down each of the 11 “fun factors” for child athletes.

Learn more about keeping fun in sports in Dr. Eddie O’Connor’s interview below: