The Freedom To Choose

A question I’ve been asked on more than one occasion is ‘when should I let my child choose the sport they play?’

This is a brilliant question and one I can empathise with on a variety of fronts for parents.

Usually there are 3 reasons kids will end up playing a sport:

1. Parental Influence- What their parents played growing up is likely to influence the sport selected.

2. Siblings- If an older brother or sister play a particular sport they’ll fumble their way into it also.

3. Peer groups- If their friends at school or perhaps on their street play a particular sport, they’re likely to want to dabble also.

Bearing in mind the number one reason for kids quitting sport or physical activity is a lack of fun!!! 

As a parent there are 3 thing’s I’d love for you to consider the next time you’re enrolling your little cherub into a season.

1. Start them early

In this instance your influence would carry significant weight. You may have enjoyed a particular sport and reaped the rewards along the way growing up. So why not pass that experience on to your child. Excellent! By doing this not only can you relate but build a positive relationship along the way… fun!

2. Fun comes in a variety of forms

By not only having a solid peer group, but by their siblings participating also encourages friendly competition along with unsupervised/unstructured sessions at home. Ever wonder why younger siblings often display more resilience? Competing against and trying to one up their older brother or sister is empowering! It build’s confidence and in many instances instils a solid work ethic… all the while being fun along the way!

3. Enrol and stick to it

Far too often we complain about this generation lacking resilience! Yet we’re the first to withdraw them or change teams, schools, or clubs when they face a hurdle. Being played out of position, no knowing anyone, the coach having it in for them… The excuses (woops I mean hurdles) continue to come. As a parent encourage your child to overcome obstacles and help them find a way to do so- don’t provide an ‘opportunity’ for a get out clause.

Throughout your child’s journey they may ask to participate in a particular sport. This is normal. Quite possibly for number two or three above (Sibling’s/Peer Groups). Explore it and dabble in it accordingly.

Too often parents see some of what could be described as early/natural talent and pigeon-hole them with a particular sport.

The greatest success in sport come’s intrinsically when the individual’s themselves enjoy a sport, are challenged by it, and choose to pursue it further. This usually comes after dabbling in several sports having built some resilience and self-confidence wanting to be better.


If there was a general rule of thumb to this the mid-teens would be about that time.

Remember it’s ok for your kids to choose a different sport to that you as a sporting parent would prefer. By this stage as a sporting parent you’ve been successful! 

Despite the fact you might not feel it at the time.

You’ve not only established a strong positive connection early with your child/children, encouraged them to adopt a multi-sport approach, and now have instilled resilience which in turn encourages independent learners who are intrinsically driven! A massive win…

So, no- you haven’t failed by them not wanting to pursue what you did as a kid. Or are they ‘rebelling’ against you by wanting to do something different.

Nurture it. Encourage it! This is all part of the fun being a sporting parent along the way!

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