Many factors contribute to being a successful athlete, including physical skill and good coaching. Yet the primary reason players succeed in sports is they have a love for the game. In his interviews with athletes around the world, Robert Nideffer, sports psychologist, has consistently found that it is not money or fan approval that motivates them to play long term. Rather, it is because they love how they feel when playing, a love for the game that allows them to continue playing through adversity.
Love is First Caught
Children develop a love of sports early, and in many ways. The love of the game is caught when a child:
Learns a sport's most basic skills
Is on the field with his friends
Begins to feel comfortable with her body and can see how hard work pays off with increased skills proficiency.
Organizing Youth Sports: Taking The Fun Out?
Playing games is natural for children. Soccer is a great example of a simple game that children can grasp at a young age and enjoy as they grow into their bodies and increase their skill level. The reality of modern American life, that children can't be left in playgrounds and parks without supervision, and that parents have limited free time, mean that children learn to play sports on organized teams, in organized leagues, with set schedules for games and practices, all of which tend to take the fun out of sports. The number one reason kids give for dropping out of sports - most at age 12 or 13 - is that it is no longer fun.
Adults Are Responsible
It is possible, however, to change the organized sports environment so that it fosters a love of the game instead of stifling it. Every group of adults is guilty of some part in this negative process.
Parents are notorious for putting pressure on their children to them perform better. Parents often try to live through their children and that they are having fun is not good enough. Winning is a must at all cost. It is well known that parents have been a negative influence on the sidelines of soccer games. When young players are embarrassed by their parents' behavior, they quickly lose the love of the game.
Coaches have a profound role in developing the love of the game. Coaches are responsible for teaching the technical and tactical part of the game. But if the coach does not also create a positive emotional environment, the love of game will be lost.
Referees are on the field to enforce the rules and create a positive atmosphere for the game of soccer to be played. The referee has significant power, as most calls are judgment calls. Referees have the power to significantly alter the tone of the game by the use of cards. A card can be used to help control the atmosphere of the game or it can make a bad situation worse. The voice tone of the ref will significantly determine the attitude the players bring to the field. When the referee is able to control the game, then it is fun, and players can enjoy and love the game even if their team loses.