Players, parents and coaches involved in youth sports will tell you that “Having fun” is the primary reason they participate in your sports. The absence of fun is usually given as they number one reason when they quit.
I’m sure that every coach you’ve ever had has talked about “Having fun”. But what does this really mean?
Research from Dr. Amanda Visek at George Washington University does a really good job of answering this question. Dr. Visek studied an entire youth soccer organization (142 players, 37 coaches and 57 parents). They were asked to brainstorm to identify all of the things that make playing sports fun for them. She then compiled all the answers and asked the entire group to rate the importance of each idea. This research allowed her to create the FUN Map and the Not-FUN Map.
The FUN Map lists and ranks 81 things that make sports fun. The Not-FUN Map lists and ranks 91 impediments to having fun in sports. In my experience, all of these apply to hockey
The Top Things That Make Hockey Fun
Surprisingly to some, “Winning” is nowhere near the top of the list.
- Being a good sport
- Playing well together as a team
- Supporting teammates
- When players show good sportsmanship
- Trying hard
- Trying your best
- Exercising and being active
- Working hard
- Being strong and confident
- Positive coaching
- When a coach treats players with respect
- When a coach encourages the team
- Getting clear, consistent communication from coaches
- A coach who allows mistakes, while staying positive
- A coach who listens to players and values their opinions
- A friendly coach who you can talk to easily
- Learning and improving
- Being challenged to improve and get better at your sport
- Learning new skills
- Learning from mistakes
- Team Friendships
Data based on Visek, A.J., et.al. (2015). The fun integration theory: Towards sustaining children and adolescents sport participation. The full study can be found below: