Using sports to teach math

How to use Sports to Teach Math to Kids

Learning math can be quite a difficult process. Luckily, learning math online or with a coach could make it much easier. If your child is struggling to match learning styles with their teacher or to commit to studying outside of class, taking a different approach could help. Specifically, investing in a math coach that uses sports-related methods could really motivate and help your young student.

Sports are an incredible past-time, one that many young students enjoy. Using various tutoring methods related to sports could be an interesting and effective way to introduce mathematical concepts to children who are struggling. With the added element of fun and relatability, using sports to teach math is a simple way to improve motivation.

Let’s break down a few different ways that sports can be used to teach children math.

Use sports-related problems that math can solve.

It’s funny how some kids will say that math is boring, but will sit in one spot for hours to watch a football game. Luckily, these two things can be merged to make learning math more relevant and interesting.

It all starts with reframing how your child sees math. When something is difficult or frustrating to understand, most children will associate it with negative aversion. By using sports concepts that they are comfortable with and even enjoy, you can flip the script on how they view math.

Here are a few tips for using sports-related problems in math:

  • Keep score with your child while enjoying a game, preferably a televised game from home so that there are fewer distractions.
  • Dive into sports statistics and basic probability, as they are an essential part of most sports.
  • Have your child average each player’s contribution, such as scores or hits, in the game they’re watching.
  • Compare and contrast both teams’ final stats compared to other games from the same season. This is a great way to help your child understand how graphs are made.
  • Don’t be afraid to get into the scientific side of things. Sports science is very interesting, and the basic scientific concepts of sports will be much more attention-grabbing for your little athlete. Look into basic physics concepts and relate them to different scenarios that pop up during a game.
  • Calculate the probability of their favorite player’s scoring potential through the use of older scoring numbers.
  • Go old-school and build a fantasy league with your child. Older children love this! Build a fantasy team and hire different players using a budget. You can also incorporate a wide range of math concepts, such as probability and statistics.
  • Units of measurement are used quite a bit in sports, from distance to timing. Next time you’re watching a football game with your child, have them determine the number of yards needed until a touchdown or something else related to the game.

Outside of tutoring, it may also be beneficial to invest in a few books on alternative strategies for teaching math. Specifically, “Math Power: How to Help Your Child Love Math, Even If You Don’t” by Patricia Clark Kenschaft is a great tool to use for helping your children become more interested in math concepts, rather than overwhelmed. Some of the approaches noted in this book can be used with sports-related techniques.

Heads or Tails

This game is a very basic one that can be used for math tutoring at most ages.

Most competitions or games start with a simple toss of a coin. Two parties will choose either heads or tails to make decisions before the competition begins, such as who is going to go first.

Heads or Tails is an excellent concept to use when teaching children about statistics and probability. With probability, a single coin toss will have two possible outcomes– either heads or tails. The chance of getting either side is 50%.

When tutoring your child or helping them with their studies, try a little experiment. Have your child flip a coin every day during summer break until school is in session again. Record the results. The results won’t be 50% tails all the time, but it should be close. This is a great way to teach your child about probability.

Counting, Fractions, and Geometry in Sports

Counting is the most basic element of math, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy for young students. Counting is also a big part of a majority of sports. From counting fouls to points to goals, being able to memorize number order and understand basic addition and subtraction is very important. When watching a sports game with your child, have them keep up with counting points throughout the game.

Fractions and geometry are also important math concepts that have a solid place in sports. Games are often divided up into innings, quarters, matches, etc. This presents an excellent opportunity for children to learn more about how fractions work and to experience them in a real-world context. For geometry, you can talk to your student about which angles are needed for a player to kick the ball into the goal. You can also dive into the different shapes found on the field and what they mean.

Sports Statistics (Example using Baseball)

Does your young student love baseball? You’re in luck if they’re currently learning about statistics! Baseball is a very stat-heavy sport, with hundreds of different statistics available. From predictive models to advanced fielding stats, you can use a televised or live baseball game to help your child gain a clearer understanding of baseball. When presenting this type of math in the context of baseball, you’re giving your child the motivation needed to understand everything about the game– which is more of a priority for them than simply being good at math.

Talk about different statistic formulas during a game, such as vatting average, earned run average, and total bases. It also helps to have a standard baseball stat resource on hand.

Sports Statistics (Example using Basketball)

As with baseball, basketball is another great sport that utilizes statistics. When enjoying a game with your young student, introduce the concept of basic statistics such as points, rebounds, blocks, turnovers, etc. These are counting stats that can be used to determine the minimum, maximum, and media. You can also introduce the concept of field goal percentage. This is found by dividing the number of successful shots by the number of shot attempts.

How was our guide to investing in the best math tutors online who use a sports approach to coaching? Leave a comment below and tell us which sports-centered approach has helped your child learn math!

Ready to find the right math coach to take your child’s math skills to the next level? TutorOcean is an international marketplace dedicated to connecting students to coaches. Our coaches tutor on a wide range of subjects, from math to language to university prep tests to music lessons.  Our vetted and experienced coaches leverage TutorOcean’s proprietary online whiteboard to help teach young students math in a fun, effective, and interactive way. Get in touch with TutorOcean today to find the right math tutor for your child!

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