5 Tips to Motivate Your Child to Try a Sport

By Mia Barnes – August 3, 2022

Athletics is crucial to a child’s growth. It helps them develop healthy habits, encourages social interaction and boosts self-esteem. Many studies have shown that kids who play sports are less prone to physical and mental health issues than their sedentary counterparts.

However, persuading a child to try a sport is still a challenge. Physical activity might benefit them in many ways, but a rational argument doesn’t work on irrational beings. You need to get more creative with your inspiration tactics. Here are five tips to motivate your child to try a new sport.

1. Let Them Choose the Sport

Many parents let their biases impact which sports they let their kids play, but forcing kids into a specific activity is not the best plan. You might have excelled at it, but your child is a different person who will have different attitudes about the sport. Instead of making your child take a predetermined path, keep your options open and let them have the last word.

Still, you know your child, so you should have a solid idea of which sports they would enjoy or hate. Write a list of those potentially enjoyable sports and let your child circle a handful of them. Discuss the background of each sport they circled and help them make a final decision.

Your preference can help guide their choice, but it shouldn’t be the driving force behind the decision. Besides, your kid is more likely to choose your favorite sport without persuasion, as discussed in the next section.

Family doing yoga.

2. Lead By Example

It’s no secret that children mimic their parents, so if you really want your child to play a specific sport, make sure they see you playing it. Lead by example and allow them to develop an organic interest in the game. Once they realize you’re having fun, they will want nothing more than to play by your side. A strong role model is more powerful than a motivational speech.

You don’t even have to change your routine to get their attention. Let your children see you practicing in the backyard. Take them to your local recreational league games. Get excited while watching games on TV. Your kids will notice your passion and feel inclined to act the same way. When the time comes for them to sign up for a sport, they will jump at the opportunity to follow in your footsteps.

3. Focus on Fun and Friendship

If you want to pique a child’s interest, you have to think like a child. That means you must focus on the fun aspects of the sport. Winning championships and being in shape are probably low on your child’s list of priorities. Goofing around with friends is the top priority for most kids with a stable upbringing.

Based on that logic, the safest bet is to choose a sport that most of your child’s friends already play. Adults do the same thing by joining group exercise classes when starting their fitness journeys. They will feel included regardless of their experience and their friends will help them learn the rules. Plus, their bonds will grow stronger the longer they play together. Sports have a knack for producing unshakeable friendships.

Girls playing tennis.

4. Take Them to Live Events

Many professional athletes have cited a live sports event as the experience that motivated them to pursue an athletic career. Whether it was getting an autograph, attending a star player’s summer camp or simply enjoying a live game, they can often point to one experience that solidified their love for the sport.

Take your child to live sporting events and give them a chance to have a similar experience. Show them everything the sport offers and let their imagination run wild. They might not be interested in the game’s outcome the first time, but they will notice the flashy uniforms and the stadium’s sights and sounds. These aesthetic elements are some of the main reasons people hold onto their athletic passions later in life.

As you attend these events, help them choose a favorite player or team. Make them emotionally invested in the sport before getting into the game’s rules and fundamentals.

5. Be a Constant Presence

Getting your child to try a new sport is a significant step, but your work is far from finished. You must be a constant presence from the sidelines. Cheer them on at games, let them vent their frustrations in the car after practice and send some positive reinforcement their way.

Most importantly, be patient with their progress. Not all kids are gifted athletes and you shouldn’t put that unfair expectation on your child. Your presence enables them to give their best effort and enjoy themselves. Those two elements are the keys to a successful youth athletic career, not trophies.

Get Your Child’s Heart in the Game

The old saying “get your head in the game” applies to many things, but not children’s athletics. If you want your child to get their head in a new sport, you must first get their heart in it. Make them emotionally invested by leading by example, taking them to live events and focusing on what makes the sport fun. Regardless of the sport, make sure it’s their decision and support them from day one.


About the Author

Mia Barnes smiling.

Mia is a health and wellness writer and the Editor In Chief at Body + Mind. She specifically enjoys writing about women’s fitness, as well as mental health-related topics. When she’s not writing, Mia can usually be found reading poetry, taking a dance or cardio class, or hiking.


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