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My Child doesn't Enjoy Football. What Should I do?

5 July 2023

If your child does not enjoy football, take some time to listen to them to try to find out why. Try to ask specific questions like is there anything you do like about it? Would you like to try playing with a different team? If they have the skills and enjoy knocking around with you there may be something happening among the team that they are struggling with. Maybe just talking it over with you will help and you can use the opportunity to teach them some life skills about dealing with other people.


If a child is under ten they want to be having fun doing things and it is hard to explain they are committed to a team. Maybe you can negotiate going to one or two more sessions before quitting. Coaches all work in very different ways so perhaps a different team has an atmosphere where they will thrive.

There is a delicate balance to be struck between encouraging them to fulfil a commitment and letting them listen to their intuition and honour their own needs. 


Is your child fit enough? It is very unpleasant to have to run without any previous fitness practice. Children need to have good nutrition and the ability to run with stamina to enjoy themselves on the football pitch. Are they warm enough, thirsty or not sleeping? Are there any underlying health issues like asthma that you need to have checked? Have they suffered an injury whilst playing? Spending time being active with them will let you see what is going on without them having to verbalise it.


Do they understand the game? If you have explained the rules and watched matches together then they will have a better understanding and appreciation for being on the pitch. You could spend some time having a knockabout with them to help them develop skills without the stress of their peers watching them. 


Some kids love the camaraderie of a team sport, others dread the social aspects of the game. They may not have the psychological make-up to tackle another player. In this case, consider other sports like tennis or martial arts where they perform as an individual. Perhaps they prefer swimming or love cycling. Often children want to do what their friends do so if they like the rugby crowd they will want to be with them.

Don't force them

Be sure it is not you wishing you were playing football rather than the child. It is important they follow their own dreams. Parents can put a lot of pressure on children without realising. Try to be enthusiastic and praise them rather than yell from the sidelines. 

If football causes them major anxiety it is not worth it. You want them to be looking forward to their activities, not losing sleep and possibly becoming depressed. 

It’s common for children to lose interest in all sport around age 13. Suggesting a change in activity might keep them active without losing everything that football has to offer. Exercise has so many benefits like confidence, boosting immunity and social development it is always worth encouraging. The joy that can be found in movement and sportsmanship will benefit them all their lives.

Photo by Марина Шишкина

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