Sports are not as complicated as some make them out to be. Line up, let them play and, if possible, have them play as a team and not as individuals. There is, however, one aspect of sports that cannot be exaggerated. You gotta be in shape.
Being in good physical condition is not so easy for the modern kid. Given the choice, most kids would rather play video games or watch Nickelodeon on their computer than shoot baskets or run laps. My son Max told me he gets in shape playing "Wii Sports." ...Get in shape playing video games? ...Vince Lombardi would roll over in his grave.
It is hard to be too tough on kids. Look what they are up against. The only time they are allowed to play games is when they have a scheduled practice or game. Pick up games, the staple of my childhood, have gone the way of the horse and buggy. I played more baseball games on a summer's day than most 2009 kids play in a month.
Of course, there are some exceptions. There are kids who play on two soccer teams, Pop Warner football and see a trainer on the side. The reality is that for every uber athlete there are three who can't run around a sports field without stopping. What are parents supposed to do?
First, let me explain why being in good cardiovascular condition is so important. Simply put, when you get tired, you cannot play. The mind may be willing, but the arms and legs stop working so good. This is not only true for 10-year-olds, but for college and professional athletes.
As I rose through the ranks of high school and college athletics, my appreciation of being in top condition grew substantially. When you are in top shape, you do everything stronger, quicker and with more purpose. And being in good cardiovascular condition not only makes you physically tougher, but mentally tougher as well.
This is how I persuade my son to get in shape. (Something he is not naturally inclined to do.)
Soccer is a running game. To be able to do soccer, you need to be in shape. When you are in shape, you will not only play better, you will enjoy the sport more. It may not be a lot of fun, but that's the way it works. You gotta trust me on this one.
The alternative is not really an alternative. (You gotta trust me on this one.) In my athletic career when I neglected my conditioning, it did not work well. I got tired, my skills went down the drain and I was in pain. ...Not to mention, it was really embarrassing.
Anything you can do to help your child get in shape will enhance their athletic experience and their overall health. You don't have to go overboard, but a run, hike or bike ride will help out.
I promise you will see an improvement in your child's performance. And while they may not say so at the time, they will appreciate your extra effort while playing their sport.