What do you say when your child hates sports day?

What do you say when your child hates sports day?  Actually, to be more precise, what do you say when YOU hated sports day but you want to enthuse your child?

when your child hates sports day - lad with bat and ball on the field

I was a complete sports duffer.  I used to play Left Back at Hockey because the bib had my initials on.  I tried tennis, but our teacher couldn’t be faffed teaching a left-hander.  I tried cross country running.  Well,  a brisk jog down the lanes surrounding the school anyway.

Our school had a swimming pool (complete with, we later discovered, its own asbestos tiles), the water of which was always freezing.  I remember lessons in winter were particularly onerous because you could never dry your hair and would spend afternoon lessons with water dripping from your ponytail down your back.

And don’t mention gym – we had wall bars and ropes and those ‘horse’ thingummies. I once managed a forward roll.  That’s it.

On the other hand,  I studied ballet and completed all the Royal School of Dance exams up to Pre-Elementary so I did do some exercise during my teenage years.

And Dad did take my sister Sarah and I out on our bikes quite a lot.

In those days Dinas Powys really was a village and the surrounding country lanes were quiet. Nobody worried about wearing a safety helmet then.

It seems like another world now, doesn’t it!

My most hated event on the school calendar was sports day. There were always the cool girls who could sprint without breaking into a sweat. There were the strong and solid girls who could chuck a shot or a javelin for what seemed like miles.

And then there was the small group of us sporting renegades for whom hiding out in the changing room toilets or, better still, remembering some extremely urgent piano practice in the music room seemed a better bet.

Caitlin seems to have inherited my loathing of forced sporting activity, gung-ho banner waving and irritating whistleblowing. I am, however, determined that she should give sports more of a go than I did.

She is not very confident and is not one of the fastest runners – largely because she does not have the competitive edge that some of her peers do – inherited, I suspect from their far more sporty parents.

“Does it matter if I come last?”  she’s asked me on a couple of occasions.

It’s a more sensitive subject because her brother Ieuan lollops everywhere, making running looks as easy as breathing.

So what do you say to a child who hates their school sports day?

How about some of these.

* Everybody is built differently.  Some can run fast, some can jump high and some are born to dance.

* Even if you don’t win, by trying your hardest you are helping your school team (or house) to succeed.

* Even if you are not good at sports now, one day you may be (Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, anybody?)

* If you want to succeed at anything you’ve got to practise (train).  Athletes train for hours every day.

* If you don’t do well, nobody will think badly of you.

* See yourself winning.  Imagine you are running down the track as fast as a superhero. Nothing can stop you.

* Believe you can and you will

* We will love you and be proud of you no matter what happens.

I’d be tempted to add “your mother had all the speed and grace of a sleepy Heffalump and she’s turned out OK” but that’s possibly not up there with the best coaching strategies.

What would you say if your child hates sports day?


  1. Barbara Finemore
    6 June, 2018 / 7:52 am

    Hi Linda, Tell your lovely Caitlin that we can’t all be great at everything and be honest about hating sport yourself. Sports day will soon be over, even the practices. What IS wrong with coming last? Some has to be! Xxx

  2. jessica newman
    30 June, 2015 / 7:37 am

    I hope my son will love sports day when he starts school in september, i was never a fan

  3. Emma Fox
    29 June, 2015 / 10:54 am

    My son loves sports however I do not. Luckly he looks to his father to do anything active. I take him to swimming lessons.

  4. Jill Fairbank
    22 June, 2015 / 3:49 pm

    I have never had this thankfully but I guess it's about encouraging them to have fun and perhaps say we are not all good at everything if that's the issue

  5. Julia Bryson
    22 June, 2015 / 8:55 am

    My son is not sporty at all, like me, so I try to tell him it doesn't matter and just to enjoy it. My husband was captain of the football team though so tries to encourage him to succeed more! Thanks for linking to #sundaystars

  6. 18 June, 2015 / 1:59 pm

    Trying to remember what I said to my daughter. She wasn't as hopeless as I was at sport, was an average runner, and could at least throw and catch a ball, but never saw much point in it. It was the fashion for interactive games rather than competitive sports, so I don't remember sports days were the evil they were for me. Give it your best and that's all you can do I think.

  7. 17 June, 2015 / 8:43 am

    My son hates sport too, as do I, but I just tell him that it will all be over soon, a bit like immunisations lol!!

  8. Morna Piper
    16 June, 2015 / 7:52 pm

    I totally don't know what to tell my kids because I'm crap at sport and I'm pretty sure that my five year old will be too! My three year old would probably be quite good at cage fighting and mixed martial arts. They both love ballet and I try to encourage them at this but I feel really worried for them that they won't excel because I'm also rubbish at dancing. I'm trying hard not to let my own disappointments affect how I interact with them. I mainly just say things like – I'm really proud to see you taking part – what a cop out!

  9. 16 June, 2015 / 12:27 pm

    I can relate to this! I hated it and so does my little girl!


  10. Kaci Soderstrom
    16 June, 2015 / 1:08 pm

    Always hated sports and I'm not sure how I'd ever manage to encourage anyone else to like it. Think you either do or you don't.

  11. elaine dale
    16 June, 2015 / 11:26 am

    not a lot as I hated it too

  12. 15 June, 2015 / 3:42 pm

    I mean I use to be in your position in school.. I was never good at sports day and always came in the last 2 or 3. However, I did enjoy it in primary school but not senior- that is when I feel it got harder for me to be motivated.
    Erm. I don't have kids, but I would probably say, 'Try your best. If you win- you win. If you lose you lose' -that's what my mum always said to me. 🙂 After that I didn't stop worrying so much about it

  13. 15 June, 2015 / 3:40 pm

    My eldest girl hated sports when she was younger….She dreaded sports day and actually cried about it. I just told her to try her best….She isn't a natural runner but now she is 12 and she loves sport. Netball, hockey and rugby….lol Sports where she doesn't have to run as much 😀 xx

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