Friday, June 5, 2020
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I recently had a conversation with a couple that was concerned that their son who was 10 years old “wasn’t really good at sports”.
“We feel sorry for him that he always has to play right field when he is on the baseball team, and hardly ever gets to play when he plays basketball, or soccer”, they said.
They went on to tell me that he looks awkward and not very smooth like the other boys his age when he is playing each sport. He lacks confidence and as a result he usually backs off from the games and doesn’t really give much of an effort. He is afraid to make mistakes because he thinks the others will make fun of him or say he’s the reason they lost the game. They even have done the right thing by giving him lots of opportunities to experiment with lots of different sports as they have signed him up for a variety of activities. He has been involved in team sports as well as individual sports.
He wants to play sports because his friends do, and they have been somewhat successful with the teams that they have played on. He doesn’t want to feel left out or different. This has already started to happen as his friends like to play sports at their recess time at school and he usually doesn’t get picked to be on a team, or just doesn’t even go over to the game for fear of rejection.
This is a sad story for me to listen to, but one that I hear often. As I talked with this young couple, there was one piece that was missing in this story… they don’t spend any time with him playing and practicing sports together as a fun family activity.
Special mom and dad time in the backyard playing catch or shooting baskets on the driveway or kicking the soccer ball back and forth or hitting a tennis ball back and forth or playing a little ping-pong is so important.
I remember when our kids were young, we would have special family nights of just inventing new sports games or modifying the baseball rules to fit our backyard space. We would play for hours.
It is in these times that kids at an early age start to develop coordination and as a result gain sport specific skills which then lends itself to self motivation and a desire to keep on practicing, because it was fun.
We would make up games that only 2 people could play that somehow represented a whole team of players. We would throw and kick and run and bat and swing and use all the different motor skills that would help them develop those skills and body movements needed for a variety of sports and activities.
Hey and the other good news: it gives mom and dad a good workout!
Needless to say, this special time is so important even as it relates to the parent/child relationship.
I remember also inviting our kids’ friends over and then having a “big” game, because now we had 2 or 3 on a team, which then defines a “big” game.
It is fun and important to have this time together with a basketful of benefits.
I know there is more to this equation, but I really feel that not playing and being active at home, is a huge missing piece to the puzzle.
So, come on parents get in the backyard and start creating fun!
If you have comments or questions for Tom Kuyper, you can email him at:

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