Inside: Cultivate young football fans’ love for the game with a kid-friendly fantasy football league! Discover 5 creative ways to simplify and customize the league for maximum fun and learning.

My husband has been in a family Fantasy Football league for several years. In recent years, he allowed our younger son (who loves football) to help him make decisions on players and stuff. Then, I added a team.

Another uncle left the league, we expanded the league size, so more kids (cousins) got their own team. Now, 25% of our league is Fantasy Football for kids.

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Including Kids in Fantasy Football Leagues

Needless to say, with three of us with our own teams, there’s a lot of football talk in our house. And can I just say? Wow! Sure, Fantasy Football is a hobby or pastime, but there is a lot of educational value, too. I never realized it!

fantasy football for kids

I love it when our kids get the opportunity to practice or learn a skill in a low-risk environment. And I’d say a Fantasy Football league is low risk. You gather up some friends and family members, and most of the websites are free.

Even if you’re a parent who knows nothing about the NFL, you can still play. The website will tell you how many players you have to pick for each position and so on.

There are even some social skills to be learned. Such as winning and losing. Fantasy football is based on how well each individual player does, not a team. Even the person who picks the most random players is going to pick some good ones and get points each week.

fantasy football for kids
Fantasy Football is a great alternative to playing actual football.

But, having kids in your league may require some adjustment to what most adults do in their Fantasy Football leagues. (like chugging beer to decide who picks first in the draft!

Fantasty Football for Kids

Adjusting a fantasy football league to make it fun for kids involves simplifying the game, emphasizing enjoyment over competitiveness, and adding elements that cater to their interests.

Here are five ways to do just that:

  • Age-Appropriate Scoring: Modify the scoring system to make it more straightforward and easier to understand for kids. Focus on basic statistics like touchdowns and yards gained while eliminating complicated stats like fumbles or interceptions. This ensures that scoring remains transparent and accessible to young participants.
  • Customizable Rules: Allow for more flexibility in league rules and settings. Let kids have a say in how the league operates by allowing them to collectively decide on certain rules, such as trade regulations, roster sizes, or waiver wire procedures. This empowers them and promotes a sense of ownership over the league.
  • Prizes and Incentives: Create incentives and rewards that are appealing to kids. Consider offering small prizes like stickers, trading cards, or trophies for weekly winners or season-long accomplishments. These tangible rewards can boost excitement and motivation.
  • Educational Elements: Incorporate educational components into the league. Encourage kids to research players and teams, learn about statistics and analytics, and even explore football history. You can organize mini-lessons or quizzes related to football to make it an educational experience.
  • Themed Leagues: Introduce fun themes or challenges to the league. For example, have a “superhero” league where kids pick players based on their favorite comic book characters or a “color” league where each participant’s team is based on a specific color theme. These themes can add an extra layer of excitement and creativity.

Remember that the goal is to ensure that kids have a positive and enjoyable experience in the fantasy football league. Be patient and provide guidance as they learn the ropes.

Encourage fair play, sportsmanship, and camaraderie among participants. By making these adjustments, you can create a fantasy football league that is not only fun for kids but also a valuable learning experience.

But guiding your child through Fantasy Football can also be a way to teach or practice their executive functioning skills. Here are 8 main executive functioning skills and how you can practice them using Fantasy Football.

Executive Function Skills taught via Fantasy Football

Many kids struggle with various executive functions. FF is a great way to teach and practice those needed executive functions.

Emotional Control: It’s not going to be possible to pick all the players from only teams that you love or are emotionally attached to. You’ll have to pick players you may not like, and overcome that. But if you do not look past your emotions and only pick players that you like, you’ll never get enough points. In fact, diehard football fans tend not to do as well with their FF teams because they are too emotionally attached to their players. You’ll also win and lose every week.

Flexible Thinking: Again, you will have to pick players you don’t like, as they may be ranking higher than your favorites. The best player option you have that week might be someone from a rival team or city. It also seems silly initially to put two rival players on the same team, but that’s how it goes.

Impulse control: Throughout the season, you can add, delete, and trade players. However, once play has started for that player, you cannot move them that week. Also, some bidding and trades take place overnight. You have to learn patience. Last Saturday, I put in a bid on a player that did not come through until after Monday night football was over. These are league rules to make it fair for everyone, but they can protect you from making impulsive decisions.

Organization: Managing a football team is a big job, even if it’s just pretend. You have to look at overall predictions, injury reports and select your best options every week.

Planning and Prioritizing: Same as above. Every week you want to play your players that will bring you the most points. That takes planning, especially since play one week can result in injuries that affect your entire team. 

Self-Monitoring: I struggle with impulse control myself. And I’m a FF newbie. I made one rash decision and added a player from waivers, and it was a move that could be done instantly. I regretted it, as that player was on the injured list and I was stuck with him. My husband constantly tells our 11-year-old, “Don’t make your decisions based on one game; everyone has a bad game. Plan for the entire season.” 

Task Initiation: If you don’t stay on top of your team, you’ll lose. I get it; people get busy. But if a team has a bye week and you played them–you’ll get 0 points for them. If someone moved to the injured list and you didn’t bench them, you’ll get 0 points. Managing a successful team takes monitoring and task initiation.

Working Memory: I swear I’m not making this up, but FF is improving my problem solving and working memory skills. I know very little about professional football, believe me. I root for the home team (Go Birds!) and that’s about it. But, I want to do well at this. It would be fun to beat my husband too. So while it’s fun, doing these tasks and exercises is working my brain in ways it hasn’t been worked. Much like doing a word puzzle or sudoku, it’s good for you. 

You really don’t have to be an NFL expert to play Fantasy Football. And you can learn and practice valuable skills. Set up a league, for free, today and start playing!

Fantasy football on a computer screen, perfect for kids who love sports.
Include your child in your FF league or help them create their own.

Fantasy Football for Kids

Fantasy football for kids is an exciting and educational way for young sports enthusiasts to engage with the game they love. This popular pastime allows children to immerse themselves in the football world, strategize like real NFL coaches, and have fun while learning valuable skills.

One of the key benefits of fantasy football for kids is its ability to enhance their mathematical and analytical abilities. As children select players, manage their rosters, and make strategic decisions, they apply basic math concepts like addition and subtraction to calculate player scores and rankings.

Furthermore, they develop critical thinking skills as they weigh the strengths and weaknesses of different players and make informed choices.

Fantasy football also encourages teamwork and collaboration. Kids can form their own leagues with friends, family, or classmates, fostering a sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship. They learn to negotiate trades, make collective decisions, and work together toward a common goal—winning their fantasy football league.

In addition to improving math and teamwork skills, fantasy football can also enhance a child’s knowledge of the sport.

Young fans become more familiar with player statistics, team dynamics, and game strategies, deepening their appreciation for the game. It can also encourage physical activity, as kids may be inspired to play football themselves after watching their favorite players perform on the field.

Perhaps most importantly, fantasy football for kids is just plain fun. It provides an opportunity for children to bond with family members and friends over a shared interest in football, creating lasting memories and traditions.

The excitement of watching their fantasy players score touchdowns and make big plays adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the football season.

Fantasy football for kids is a fantastic way to combine sports enthusiasm with valuable life skills. It fosters math proficiency, teamwork, sports knowledge, and, most importantly, a love for the game of football.

Whether aspiring NFL coaches or passionate fans, young players in fantasy football leagues can enjoy a rewarding and educational experience.

Executive Functioning Skills for Kids

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