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3 Tips for Children Who Have Never Played Sports

And Another 3 for the Parents Who Coach Them

(Published Mar 10, 2015)

As Director of Athletics, parents often ask me if it’s okay for their children to play sports if they’ve never played the sport before. Yes! Here are three tips for getting started:

  1. Look for an Introductory Program. The JCC’s youth sports programs are designed to teach the basics to those who are playing a sport for the first time or are in the beginning stages of a sport.
  2. Keep it light. Most JCC youth sports participants, ages 4½ to 10 years old, have already put in a long day at school. So we schedule practices about two hours after they’ve been out of school. Practices are only one day a week allowing participants and families to experience many activities the JCC has to offer other than sports.
  3. Make it fun. I emphasize with all our volunteer coaches that the number one goal is that kids have a good time. We want them to enjoy playing and have a desire to come back.

Speaking of our coaches, we rely heavily on volunteers. We always need volunteers. For example, for basketball season, we can easily attract 80 or more kids. At 8-10 kids per team, we need at least 16 volunteers to coach. If you’re interested in coaching, or know someone who is, here are my three top reasons to be a coach:

  1. You have the skills. The coach’s role is more organizational and inspirational. You don’t have to be super knowledgeable about the sport since our focus is on the basics; skills learned from playing sports in general are applicable.
  2. You’ll stay in touch. Many of our volunteer coaches see it as a chance to participate with their child and his/her friends.
  3. It’s an awesome experience. It’s uplifting to see children experience things for the first time. Being a coach is different than watching your child experience something from the sidelines. When you see your player do something you’ve asked them to do all season long and they do it, it’s just awesome.

Kyle-mills_headshot_2_webLiving across the street from the JCC as a child, Kyle Mills participated in sports programs that he now leads as Director of Athletics. He loves the outdoors and his favorite place to be is on the soccer field, where he spent most of his time throughout high school and college.


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  1. I liked that you advised turning a sports activity into fun, especially for the children who have never played sports. My son has a birthday soon, and he is literally afraid of playing sports with other children! That is why I want to plan something funny and sporty at the same time so that he could relax and just have fun playing with his friends!

    • If you live in Indianapolis, the JCC does offer kids birthday parties. Given that your son is afraid of playing sports with other children, we’d be happy to involve our sports staff to structure an activity. Since we have a preschool and afterschool program here, our sports staff are really good with kids age 3-grade 6.

      Also, in case you didn’t know, non-members are welcome to join our leagues and to have birthday parties here (members get a discounted rate). Let me know if you’d like to look into this a little more. I can have Rita Jordan, our person who handles birthday parties, contact you.

  2. I think my kids would really benefit from having someone coach them and hone their talents. My son is naturally gifted at soccer, but he needs someone to show him his place in all this. I’ll have to consider having him try out for a team or something in the future.

    • We have leagues that will be starting in April. We also have Advanced Group Training for grades 1-4 that develops skills and focuses on individual drills to improve control and ball-handling.

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