Balancing Competition and Fun


Dr. Natalie McCabe, East Sandringham JFC Chief Mental Health Officer and Mum of  2 Zebbies

Competitive sports offer numerous benefits beyond just winning. When the emphasis is on enjoyment and having fun rather than solely on victory at any cost, both children and parents can experience a host of positive outcomes. Here’s why a focus on fun and enjoyment in competitive sports is so important:

Benefits for Children:

Physical Health:

Competitive sports encourage physical activity, promoting cardiovascular health, muscular strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. Whether it’s team sports like soccer or individual sports like swimming, participation in sports contributes to a healthier lifestyle.

Mental Well-being:

Engaging in competitive sports can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The sense of accomplishment and camaraderie derived from sports participation boosts self-esteem, improves mood, and enhances overall psychological well-being.

Social Development:

Competitive sports provide opportunities for social interaction, teamwork, and relationship-building. Children learn effective communication, collaboration, leadership, cooperation, and sportsmanship, skills that are valuable both on and off the field.

Personal Growth:

Participating in competitive sports fosters personal growth and development by challenging children to set goals, overcome obstacles, and strive for improvement. They learn resilience, determination, and perseverance, essential life skills that translate beyond sports.

Healthy Competition:

When the focus of competitive sports is on fun and enjoyment rather than winning at all costs, it creates a healthier and more positive competitive environment. Children learn sportsmanship, fair play, and respect for opponents, promoting inclusivity and support.

Lifelong Participation:

By emphasising fun and enjoyment, competitive sports are more likely to retain participants over the long term. Children who have positive experiences and derive pleasure from sports are more likely to continue participating throughout their lives, reaping ongoing benefits.

Benefits for Parents:

Reduced Stress:

Prioritising fun and enjoyment over winning reduces stress and pressure related to sports performance for both children and parents. Parents experience less anxiety and tension, creating a more relaxed and enjoyable sports environment.

Enhanced Self-esteem:

Parents who encourage their children to focus on effort and improvement bolster their child’s self-esteem. By emphasising progress and effort rather than result, parents contribute to their child’s sense of confidence and achievement.

Stronger Relationships:

Open communication, mutual respect, and shared enjoyment of sports strengthens the parent-child relationship. Engaging in sports together creates opportunities for quality time spent as a family, enhancing overall family cohesion.

Increased Resilience:

Learning to navigate the ups and downs of sports with a balanced mindset helps children develop resilience and coping skills. Parents who support their child through challenges create resilience in both themselves and their children.

Improved Overall Well-being:

A balanced approach to sports promotes greater overall well-being for both children and parents. Enjoyment derived from sports participation, along with the development of skills and relationships, contributes to a sense of fulfillment and happiness.

Promoting a balanced approach to competitive sports positively impacts the physical, mental, and social well-being of both children and parents. By prioritising enjoyment alongside competition and fostering a supportive sports environment, families can create positive experiences that support lifelong participation and overall well-being.


Go Zebbies!!! 🦓