The Power of Fun


“Let’s make it fun.”

You hear those words a lot these days from parents, teachers, and coaches — along with words like “passion” and “engagement.”  We all know that “fun” is a key element of the learning process. We think of it as the the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. That’s part of what fuels the modern urge to provide trophies, ribbons, and ice cream to every participant in every activity — after all, it should be fun, shouldn’t it?

But is this the right way to think about it? Is “fun” really something you can add to the process?  Or is it something more?

I think we get some insights from this video. It’s about the Cochran family, which has produced ten national-level downhill skiers on their small hill behind their house in Vermont. It’s a wonderful video for a bunch of reasons, but especially for the way the four Cochran kids, now grown, describe the experience:

“It was like having a party at your house… We’d come home, rush to do our homework, and at six o’clock the lights would go on, and this magical place appeared.” 

“I don’t ever feel that my father wanted us to be World Cup racers or ever had any idea that we’d be national level racers; all I remember that it was incredibly fun. We just loved going out there.” 

I think this shows a truth that’s easy to overlook:

Fun isn’t something you add to the process — fun is the process.

Fun isn’t the sugar that gets sprinkled on top of the work — it’s baked into the work itself.

Fun isn’t really about parents or teachers or coaches at all. It’s about creating a space where learners can experience the deep fun of discovery and improvement.

(And judging by those smiles, it never goes away.)

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2 Responses to “The Power of Fun”

  1. Dennis says:

    Awesome article.

    A quote from a famous soccer coach in Sweden.

    “Fun practice is’nt always good practice.
    But good practice is always fun practice”

    Best regards

  2. Alex says:

    I have read all the posts on your blog, thanks for doing this.

    I’m not a coach, I’m trying to help a cousin with training, lent my “Talent Code” copy to him – just found one to buy in my language. He latter told me that he was one of the 2 worst players at his age (under 13) on his school, now he have improved quite a lot in 6 months – lot’s of training – and is able to hold his own on adult games.

    I’m going to start to implement all I’ve read on this blog and will be aiming to become a starter of his school team (quite good team) in the next months so he can also gain experience in games that have more pressure.

    You are the best coach I’ve ever had, thank you!

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