Guest Post: 5 Things I Want my Kids to Learn from Sports, by Christine of Love, Life, Surf

photo credit: kennymatic via photopin cc
photo credit: kennymatic via photopin cc

Christine Yu and I have a lot in common – we like avocados, triathlons, and writing.

guest postOK, avocados and writing. She’s a mother of two and a fantastic writer who transitions with ease from yoga to surfing to poignant posts about life on her hugely popular blog Love Life Surf.

It’s an honor to host such a revered writer as Christine here on Coach Daddy.

Her boys, Jasper and Everett, are more blessed than we, her readers. They’re getting an incredible mentor in life. Today, Christine shares with us five things she hopes her boys learn from sports. 

I loved the post, and I know you will, too.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

I grew up playing sports and being active, creating some of my fondest memories with my family and friends. I learned a lot from those experiences. I always knew that I wanted my kids to have those experiences and memories too.

But it hasn’t exactly been easy to convince my kids to participate in sports. I mean, they love to run around and chase each other and jump and play. But ask them to do that within an organized setting with other children and a “coach”? No way.

They are the slow-to-warm-up, reluctant-to-try-anything-new types. They like routine and they like the things that they like. In particular, they don’t like trying things that they are not familiar with because they don’t want to embarrass themselves. Inevitably, once they try something for the first time, they love it. That’s what happened with swimming, skiing and surfing.

I want my kids to continue to be involved in sports and to continue to expand their horizons, not because I expect them to be the best player on the field or athlete in the pool but because I think that there are some really important lessons that they can learn from the experience.

5 things that I want my kids to learn from sports

1. It takes practice.

photo credit: trustypics via photopin cc
photo credit: trustypics via photopin cc

This is pretty much the mantra around my house, particularly for my oldest son. He’s smart and he gets things quickly except for sports. Sports come a bit less naturally. Plus, he doesn’t like to be “bad” at something.

With him, we’ve been trying to emphasize the importance of practice and how everyone needs to continue to practice – even grown-ups like Mommy and Daddy.

I make a point of telling him that I’m going to practice my swimming or running. And we celebrate the small victories and improvements and find opportunities for him to play in a low-key setting.

2. It’s not just about being good.

While it does take practice, it’s not just about practicing in order to be good or the best at something. We can’t all be good at everything that we do, but we do need to try a bunch of different things in order to figure out what it is what we like and enjoy doing, and to learn what are strengths are.

3. Losing isn’t the end of the world.

Well, for a 4- or 6-year old, it is but I do think that it’s important for my kids to lose and experience that. It’s not that I want my kids to fail all the time or that I would put them in situations in which they are constantly disappointed. However, I do believe that it’s important for kids to learn how to lose well, to learn that it’s not the end of the world, and to learn to pick themselves up and try again. See #1 and #2.

4. You have to work together.

As you see from the list of sports that my kids have tried and liked, they are primarily individual sports, which is awesome. However, I would like them to try a team sport too because I want them to see how a team works together and is dependent on each of its parts, and how it’s impossible to go it alone. My kids want to do everything all themselves. But sometimes? You can’t do it by yourself and you have to work together and ask for help.

5. I’m proud of you.

No matter what, I want my kids to know that I’m proud of them for stepping out onto the field or jumping into the pool. I’m proud of them for trying, even when they were unsure or scared and especially during those times.

# # #

Christine Yu is author of the blog Love, Life, Surf where she shares her love of fitness and stories about her experiences as a mom of two young boys trying to balance, work, family, fitness and healthy living. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.



  1. Another excellent guest post! You sure know how to pick ’em, Eli. Christine is one of my favorite bloggers!

    Christine, you covered all the bases with this one! I especially love #5. Whether my daughters run, jump, hop, skip, or hula hoop their way through life, I’ll be proud of them. At the end of the day, trophies and ribbons don’t matter. I just want them to be happy & healthy!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Nicole – and you have the right approach. Your girls are lucky.

    2. Christine says:

      Thanks Nicole! #5 is the biggest for me too. I do just want them to be happy and healthy and have fun!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        It shouldn’t have to feel liked forced labor to play a sport!

  2. What a beautiful Guest Post, Eli & Christine sounds like an incredible mother & writer. Sports can be such a wonderful tool in teaching children so many things in life. We always had them as a part of our life growing up. My brother Robert played football, my brother Barry Soccer and I was in cheerleading a majorette & was on the girls volleyball team. It helped to teach us the importance of teamwork, how to loose gracefully & be a good sport & the glory & satisfaction of winning. But the thing I remember most, is my mother in the stands watching, pride in her eyes & taking part in all the activities from the games to the fund raisers. Nothing can replace those memories. Thank you for reminding me of that. 🙂 Can’t wait to check out Christine’s blog!!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You’re going to love Christine’s blog … great stuff over there!

    2. Christine says:

      Thank you so much! It’s so true. Now, when I sit in the stands or on the sidelines and watch my kids, there’s such a sense of tremendous pride at seeing them try something new and to keep at it.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        That’s how they learn and grow, too.

  3. Christine says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words and for having me here today Eli!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Honored to have you Christine – have fun engaging with the best tribe of readers ever.

  4. tamaralikecamera says:

    Love it – Christine is here! I love that they swam, skied and surfed. I wish I had tried those three things rather than being the crying kid on the soccer field, the scared kid on the basketball court and the former strikeout queen of soccer!
    Ultimately, whatever it is mine choose, I’ll be proud of them for trying. I know there will be many misses, but many hits as well.
    (Especially Scarlet. Did I ever tell you about her powerful kick? Oh, and especially Des. Did I ever tell you about his throwing arm? Ouch!)

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I seem to remember your softball career finally took off at least once, didn’t it?

    2. Christine says:

      Thank you Tamara!! Believe me, we have a lot of crying on the sidelines and being scared to play around here! I guess that’s part of the reason why I’m so proud of them when they do step up and go for it because I know how scared they are and I know that takes a lot!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        The trenches can be pretty daunting … just getting down on their level, the tension is palpable and the noise is sometimes pretty awful.

  5. I’m so happy to hear you say that your boys are reluctant to try sports because mine are the exact same way! Part of their problem is the discipline. They like to run around like animals and just have “fun” but once a coach and organization is involved (listening!) they are out. I know it takes time and they are doing better but I’ll keep trying b/c of all the reasons you listed! Love seeing you here Christine!

    1. Christine says:

      Thank you Allie! Oh man, the number of times that I wished that my kids would be the ones ready and willing to run out on the field to play without hesitation! But I know that it’s just their personalities and that (hopefully) it will serve them when they are older 🙂

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        The experience – not the score and not the trophies – is the most valuable aspect of playing youth sports.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      They just need a coach who can bridge that gap between fun and team – there are ways to incorporate games into your training that feel like playtime, but develop skills.

  6. Love this!
    My almost-7 year old loves sports. Soccer, basketball and running make up her year. When she started playing soccer, I was secretly thrilled that her team lost almost every game. Ok, maybe “thrilled” is a bit strong, but I was happy for the opportunity to help her learn to lose gracefully. She had plenty of practice. 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The lessons in losing are often more valuable than the ones you get when you win, I believe.

  7. ksbeth says:

    these are fantastic lessons, christine and could really carry over to many parts of life. loved this ) beth

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      works for grownups, doesn’t it beth?

      1. ksbeth says:

        absolutely )

  8. Kim says:

    I love this!! Christine has so much wisdom and I enjoyed her point of view on kids in sports. I agree that losing isn’t the end of the world – I think it’s good for kids to experience the losing side of things on occasion.
    And, I love #5 – I hope that my boys never question how proud of them that I always am!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      We just have to remind them every once in a while, Kim!

  9. This comes at a perfect time for me. My kids have recently started playing soccer. They were so excited for the first “practice” until the actual day came. Can you picture me kicking a soccer ball with one child attached to my leg and holding the hand of another? Thankfully, with every week it’s getting better. With all the soccer I’m playing, I think I’m ready for an adult league this summer! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Maybe you should coach next year!

  10. I love all of this – what a great post!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I think it should be given out at youth sports registration, Cynthia!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        With fine print that says “any violations carry the penalty of having to cook dinner for the coach.”

  11. This is awesome, Christine, and I love all your points. I agree that kids need to know how to lose…I don’t understand the whole mentality we have today of when they are little, everyone wins. It just sets them up for difficulties later because they don’t understand the concept of winning and losing. And honestly, as long as we don’t make a big deal out of it, they won’t either! And #5…perfect!! No matter what they do sports or activity wise, I’ll be proud of them. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      As long as my girls don’t yank other girls to the ground by their ponytails during soccer matches, I’ll be proud!

  12. Tricia says:

    Such a great list. I never played any real sports in school and do often feel like I missed out on the particular way sports deliver life lessons. It’s not that I never learned about practice or working together but there is something about playing sports that delivers those lessons in such an impactful way. I want that for my kids too.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I hope your kids play soccer and not, say, softball. It’s much noisier. And more expensive. And time-consuming.

      But, I’m biased.

  13. This is a great post! I recently read an article in Parents Magazine about how to teach your kid to be a gracious loser… I think it’s so important!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      There’s been seasons we’ve had substantial opportunity to practice that … not only is it a good lesson in humility, I think it gives the kids the drive to improve next season.

  14. Rorybore says:

    I am so glad you put your #1 – Practice. My oldest also has a hard time trying new things because he is terrified of being “bad” and failing and other kids laughing. It’s hard for me because I was the complete opposite — I just went out there and did my thing. But it doesn’t come as naturally for him, as it did for me, so I have to stress that no one is good at something the very first time they try it. Everyone has to practice, practice, practice.
    All excellent points you’ve made that I will try to keep in mind.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I just wish more parents enjoyed the ride a little more – no matter how well your kid or kid’s team does, this ought to be fun.

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  16. Sandy Ramsey says:

    This is a fantastic post! I have one that doesn’t like to play organized sports at all but rolls around on the sidelines like a champ (he’s 6) and one who plays football more than one and can’t stand not to be perfect at either. Practice makes progress is a constant conversation in our house with him. He’s getting better and just having fun. That is what it’s all about….getting outside, getting active, having fun and being a kid!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I noticed when the girls are out and moving and active … everything goes much more smoothly than when they are not.

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