There’s an obvious concern for childhood obesity in America. One reason children aren’t as active as they should be is they believe playing games on their smartphone or staying inside with a video game is more fun than going outside and playing or participating in sports.

Because children have more engaging options to choose from than most of us did as youths, it’s the job of leagues and parents to find ways to make exercise and sports engaging. We can kill two birds with one stone by encouraging more children to discover the fun, engaging opportunities that come with being part of a youth sports league.

Promoting Socialization and Exercise

Exercise for adults and children are typically totally different. While adults will exercise alone at the gym, by themselves at home or separately in a class of others, children have the capability to exercise with one another in a way that’s more fun and engaging.

Being part of a sports team is a quick way for a child to become part of a group that exercises together. Smart coaches utilize practice times for both socializing and exercising – why? Children on a team need to practice their teamwork skills while preparing for games, matches and meets.

The most common way to do this is through paired exercises. This can be done through promoting skills like passing; something important in many field sports like soccer and football. In sports like baseball and softball, it’s important for teammates to be able to read the signals other team members give one another, so communication and team exercises are a must.

Children will soon become lost in the more social and game-like aspects of these exercises. Group exercises like scrimmages and drills unite a team while making exercising fun because of the competitive, social aspects.

Explaining the Benefits of Exercise

Sometimes children will appreciate exercise more when they know how beneficial it is for their well-being. During practices, coaches should highlight key exercise benefits, such as:

·         Exercise builds strong bones.

·         It helps to make muscle grow and strengthen.

·         It helps children grow to be bigger and stronger overall.

We as adults understand that exercise prevents diabetes, lowers blood pressure / cholesterol, improves weight and stabilizes mental health, but younger children are especially focused on becoming older and better – going back to the tried and true “bigger and stronger” benefit. Children will put their all into anything they believe will benefit them while remaining fun.

Promoting Fun and Silly Exercises

Young children like to be entertained constantly. They have a short attention span and like to be constantly stimulated – and it’s hard to train younger children out of these habits. Instead of giving them complex, frustrating exercises, try to add a fun twist to things.

Don’t be afraid to get juvenile. When doing basic stretches, it’s okay to be a little silly – when asking children to raise their hands above their head, ask them to stretch like they’re trying to reach a cookie jar on the top shelf. Even something like walking or running like their favorite animal can help stretch muscles and get their giggles out before a practice.