Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
What are the motivating factors that keep our children interested in swimming? Why do they want to stick with a sport that is so demanding with practice before and after school, plus weekends for 50 weeks a year? It requires sacrifice from the entire family, but if your children are into it, chances are you will be, too. I have friends whose son lost interest early on in high school and wanted to quit swimming. The parents asked their head coach to talk to their child and convince him to keep swimming. They were surprised and disappointed when the coach said the decision to swim or not swim should be their son’s choice.
What can we do to help our kids continue swimming and reap the benefits of staying fit and learn many life lessons that will help them throughout their lives?
Here are four reasons kids will stick with swimming throughout the years:
Kids are a good judge of where they stand amongst their peers in terms of ability and hard work. When they improve and get faster, chances are they will want to keep coming back. Ribbons, medals, winning heats and events and getting to the next level of meets are very measurable signs of success for our kids. When they work hard for a goal and achieve it, they’ll feel motivated.
Healthy relationships with their coaches and recognition for hard work is crucial because our kids spend so much time with these adults. If a coach is negative, has favorites or yells all the time, your kids may not feel like going to the pool on a regular basis. If they have a coach they respect, who is pushing them to be better in and out of the pool, they’ll love being on the team.
The number one reason why 70 percent of kids in the United States quit sports by age 13 is that it isn’t fun anymore, according to the National Alliance for Youth Sports. When it’s a shared experience with their peers and they get to hang out together at meets, practice and outside the pool, it is fun and will go a long way to have kids commit to swimming long term.
If we aren’t into it, chances are our kids won’t want to swim anymore either. If they hear us complain about the hectic schedule or having to spend money for a meet, we could be deterring them from a sport they love. When our kids have our unconditional support and love, they’ll be more likely to stick with it, because they know we’re there for them.
What do you believe keeps your kids coming back to the pool?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.