New Study Identifies Four Keys to Happy Athletes

Youth Sports Psychology

Sports Kids’ Keys to Happiness

Nearly 70% of kids drop out of sports by the time they’re 13.

That statistic isn’t new, but what is new is research that identifies what would keep them in sports.

A new study conducted by George Washington University’s School of Public Health found that kids are happier in sports when coaches focus on sportsmanship, kids’ effort, positive coaching, and encouraging the young athletes to learn and improve.

Cris Dobrosielski, an author, fitness expert and longtime youth sports coach gave us his take on the new findings.

“The new study found the kids are there to have fun. This is true of kids of all ages. They have to find enjoyment and satisfaction,” he says.

The study identified 81 fun factors and asked young athletes, mostly soccer players, to rate them. The four tactics identified above were ranked as top, in the kids’ eyes.

The additional top fun factors included game time support, games, practices, team friendships, mental bonuses, and team rituals.

Dobrosielski, who works with kids at all levels, says that at the higher levels, kids and adults tend to think that high-intensity training and fun don’t mix. But that’s not true, he says.

“Kids can have fun and it doesn’t have to take away from the high intensity. Coaches need less emphasis on the score and more on what the kids can control,” he says.

“They need to understand that they can’t control how good their opponents are, but can focus on their own effort and commitment.”

“Another important factor is creating a family environment for the kids,” he says.

“Coaches can support that by doing team activities unrelated to sports,” he says. Those activities might include dinners, laser tag, and parties that don’t focus on sports or performing.

Here at Kids’ Sports Psychology, we’ve got loads of resources that can help parents and coaches ensure kids have fun playing sports and stay in sports for the long term.

To begin with, exclusive members can listen to our full interview with Dobrosielski here:

Kids’ Sports Psychology

What’s more, exclusive members have access to eBooks, additional expert interviews, videos, and much more!

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify

The Composed Sports Kid

“The Composed Sports Kid” audio and workbook digital download program for young athletes and their parents or coach helps kids cope with frustration and anger in sports. Help your sports kids learn how to manage expectations and let go of mistakes so they can keep their head in the game. 

The Composed Sports Kid system is really two programs in one–one program to train parents and coaches how to help their kids practice composure, and one program that teaches young athletes–ages 6 to 13–how to improve composure, let go of mistakes quickly, have more self-acceptance, and thus enjoy sports more

1 thought on “New Study Identifies Four Keys to Happy Athletes”

  1. You can work hard and still have fun! I think a lot of coaches think that hard work and fun are mutually exclusive and if kids are smiling and laughing they aren’t focusing and pushing themselves. But if you don’t love what you are doing and enjoy spending hours doing it it’s impossible to give it your all!

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