What will your kids do this summer when there is no schedule and few commitments? Does sport lead to an active lifestyle?

During Covid-19, when many sports were not taking place, rather than pick up their shoes and a ball many kids turned to screens to fill in this time.  Cochrane’s Sport and Activity survey, 2021 showed that despite a reduction in organized sport, there was not a corresponding increase in unstructured activity despite youth having more free time.

Is it naive to think that when our athletes found themselves without a sport, without a team, without a schedule,  would naturally want to fill the void with activity?  We hear the stories of those youth who set up gyms in their homes, practices on their backyard rink or field, but this was not the norm. 

What can sport and families do to help kids choose to be active outdoors, in their basements or on the rink?  By playing sports we think our kids are healthy, but research shows that kids who play organized sports are not as likely to be ‘active for life’ when their time in organized sport  comes to an end.

The pull of screens and the ‘structured’ nature of ‘organized sport means that our kids may be learning to be active only when it is scheduled and they ‘have’ to be there…in an ideal world, all children and youth grow into adults who never stop playing, using their imaginations and challenging themselves without an adult directing or interrupting their learning processes.

What are some ways we can change this so our kids ‘want’ to be active’ - with summer coming up, it’s a prime time to experiment with ways to inspire your child to do some self directed movement just for the sake of it or for health and mental benefits


  • Set boundaries with your tween or teen for screen time
  • Be active yourself
  • Go on active holidays/build activity into each day and make it fun - not boot camp!
  • Encourage active transportation - ride your bike to the store or a friend’s house
  • Ask your child when they feel the most engaged/happy/in the zone - that will help them determine the types of activities to choose
  • Competition - join a fun league or pick up games with friends with  different sport (frisbee golf courses are popping up in many communities)
  • Solitude,challenge - climbing, working out, training for a race/event
  • Being outdoors - hiking, dog walking, scavenger hunt (geocaching)
  • Giving back - volunteer as an assistant at a sports camp