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Keeping Score in Games and Sports: Why Some Kids Struggle With It

By The Understood Team

At a Glance

  • Keeping score during games or sports can be stressful for kids.

  • Some kids don’t like keeping score because they struggle with math or tracking information.

  • Others simply dislike competition.

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Some kids love to keep score in games and know who’s “winning.” But others really don’t like it. Why do some kids not like to keep track of the score? And does it even matter? Here are some answers.

Keeping score requires math.

As adults, we have a lot of experience with keeping score. We were graded in school. We may play sports or at least we watch them on TV. And lots of us have played tons of games over the years, like trivia, board games, or video games.

We may not realize that keeping score is actually a complicated task for kids. Think of a basketball game. Keeping score requires kids to work with numbers on the spot, at a fast pace. They have to figure out what notation to make in the score book when someone makes a basket. They need to know the difference between a two- and a three-point shot and a free throw.

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Many math skills are involved, too. You have to count and add numbers quickly and accurately. If a referee says a basket doesn’t count, you have to subtract and rewind the score. And you might have to keep several numbers in your head at the same time. All of this can be challenging.

Keeping score can be stressful.

Another reason why some kids don’t like to keep score is the competition. Many kids have a hard time with losing. But there are also kids who don’t like the idea of having to compete or be compared with others. Many adults feel this way, too.

Even when kids aren’t playing, keeping score can still be nerve-racking. If they’re responsible for the score and make a mistake, they might feel awful. Other kids may get angry at them.

Know when the score matters.

If your child doesn’t like keeping score, does it matter? For kids who don’t like competition, it may just not be their favorite thing to do. And that’s OK.

However, it’s important that keeping score not discourage kids from playing a game or sport they enjoy. To encourage kids to play, don’t emphasize the score. Give them lots of chances to play without pressure or expectations.

Sometimes not wanting to keep score can be a sign of other challenges. Math could be difficult or create anxiety for your child. Or your child might struggle with keeping track of many things at once. You can help by spending time explaining how scoring works in a game or sport. The more your child knows about scoring, the easier it becomes.

If you’re concerned about something more serious, observe your child to see if there any patterns. If your child is struggling with math or anxiety, it will probably show up in several areas. For example, try to see if your child also has trouble with other math or timed activities.

Remember that keeping score isn’t the most important part of sports and games. The point is to have fun, learn, and participate.

Key Takeaways

  • Some kids don’t like competition and keeping score—and that’s OK.

  • If a child doesn’t like to keep score, it might be a sign of a challenge with math.

  • Don’t let the scoring discourage your child from playing or participating in a game.

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom