My most significant learning since starting to work with youth is the importance of positivity. Having an intentional attitude around creating a positive environment is something we can all work toward. When working with kids, it is the most significant factor in making great connections and helping kids learn.
What would youth sport look like if we set a goal of developing good human beings as opposed to creating elite athletes? By deliberately switching the approach we can engage more kids and create more of an impact.
Youth sports organizations spend a great deal of time focusing on skills, drills, teams, and leagues. It is this all too familiar system that creates the adverse effects of power alliances and the win at all cost mentality. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for this, but I believe it belongs later in age and at the elite end of the sporting experience.
Kids play a sport for fun, friends, and exercise, they do not need to be treated like pro athletes.
At Pure Game, we base everything we do in the power of positive behavior reinforcement and encouragement. I like to call this the Pure Game “Monsters Inc.” effect (Yes, Disney’s movie). In this movie, the monster used fear and intimidation to create power for the world in which they live. However, when Sully met Boo, the protagonists, they discovered that giggles and laughter produced more power. The establishment fought against this new finding but ultimately lost.
I wonder how much the establishment fights against this very same idea in the world of youth sport?
It is the fun engaging environment that gives Pure Game all its power.
More kids will pick up a sport, become active, and stay engaged when we focus on fun, inclusion, and the pure joy of playing.
What is preventing this from happening?
Youth sport is now a $15.3 billion market, according to WinterGreen Research, a private firm that tracks the industry. People are making a great deal of money from the current model, so why would they want to see change! We cannot expect change to come from above, we need to take this into our own hands and make it happen. Who’ up for a rebellion?
Let us be courageous enough to make change happen. Start a pickup game for kids at your local park. Walk down there with some sweaters for goals, a couple of balls, and don’t forget your kids. Invite a couple of other families to join you, and you have a pickup game. Kick the ball around for an hour and see what happens. Who knows you might create a movement in your neighborhood.
Be courageous, find your “Monsters Inc” effect and make change happen.