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It is important that children find the success that makes them feel valued and wanted and success should not be measured in terms of 'winning'. To some, simply achieving a new skill is success. In fact, until someone tells them otherwise, most children do not see 'winning' as the primary aim and are more concerned with achieving skill development than beating others. It is therefore very important that parents and coaches do not set expectations and standards that are too high. Good coaches recognise the role they play in influencing confidence, self-esteem and the general behaviour of their young athletes and use a positive approach to build on strengths rather than weaknesses.
Generally children participate in sport because it is fun. Other reasons cited are to improve skill levels, get fit, belong to a community, gain recognition, achieve success and to travel and make new friends. They drop out of sport for a variety of reasons including boredom, lack of success, too much pressure, other interests but most often the reason is simply that it ceases to be fun.
Dr Steven Danish, professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University said "Enjoyment is highest when people set their own challenges and assess their performance against these challenges. The reward comes from competing against your own potential and goals, not from a competition over which you have little control."
Children learn many lessons through participation in sport. They learn to work as part of a team; to manage success and disappointment; to respect others; to respect rules and other social values; to accept responsibility and to be fair.