Often times coaches and parents are puzzled by what I mean when I say "kids sports must, above all, be fun." Too many adults think that the words "fun" and "competitive" are mutually exclusive terms. They shouldn't be. In addition, some adults may think that fun only comes with winning and that, of course, is also not true.
In youth sports, competition is not a bad thing. It is natural and normal. Kids love to compete against one and other. It is a way for kids to measure their abilities, their development and their progress.
When kids play a sport, they should always try to do their very best and should be urged to do so. They should always strive to win - that is the essence of sports competition. Striving to win and making the effort is what is most important, not winning. Certainly winning is more fun than losing, but performing well is a worthwhile and commendable objective and accomplishment.
A coach's commitment to winning should be to prepare the players to play. Coaches should help each player develop the skills necessary to play his or her position and should help players set and achieve reasonable goals. Problems start when competition between kids escalates to competition between adults, either coaches or parents.
A good youth coach will make a commitment to ensure that each player has a positive and enjoyable experience. By recognizing and rewarding players performance and achievement, coaches are making the sports experience enjoyable and fun.
Practice can be a major element in the fun factor since practice time is much greater than game time. Practice is when the coach has the greatest impact on the players. It is the time when recognition and reward are most easily accomplished.