Many parents I have spoken with through the years have expressed a hesitation to involve their daughters in sports “for lack of physical coordination.” Without passing judgment on these parents, they steer their daughters clear for fear of facing possible teasing or embarrassment, two factors that can lead to a debilitating deflation in confidence.
Hence the existence of and supreme need for sports on a purely recreational level – just for the fun of it. Distinguished from competitive play (also referred to as travel, elite, feeder, and even competition development), recreational leagues and clinics offer structured sports activities for girls looking for active sports fun without the attention to level of play. These girls simply wish to frolic in a sports environment without so much emphasis on winning and losing, scoring and missing. Without question, they deserve this chance.
As a corollary, it is crucial that parents of the more skilled athletes take the time to learn about the expectations of programs and leagues they are considering. Program descriptions should provide an indication of the level of player involved and intensity. It is simply unfair for the competitive athlete to participate in a purely recreational program unless she truly understands that any and all are invited to play for fun.
Coaches and instructors too should be careful not to deviate significantly from the expected curriculum and level of seriousness. Teaching and instilling spirit is one thing, but going beyond an attitude that conveys relaxed, recreational play is another.
I was recently asked as to whether recreational sports for 4th grade girls on up were going by the wayside. My sincere and emphatic response is, I CERTAINLY HOPE NOT.
As always, I look forward to your feedback.