3 Benefits of Organized Athletics for Kids
Organized athletic activities are popular among youth all over the United States, where the vast majority of families have at least one child who plays competitive sports. Studies have shown that kids who play sports are happier and healthier than their sedentary peers – for the most part, at least. As with all things in life, balance is essential. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of team sports on young athletes.
- Boosting Confidence
Team sports are a huge boost for many kids’ self-esteem. As they learn about their own strengths and gain new skills, they tend to feel better about themselves – especially girls who get involved with sports. Teen years are rife with self-doubt for both genders, but girls suffer more readily from problems like eating disorders and self-harm. By being part of a team, girls often subconsciously learn that they are valued for more than just their looks, boosting their confidence in the long run.
No matter what level, having the right equipment can be a huge part of what motivates a child to better their athletic skills. For example, by purchasing a lacrosse goal and netting, you can help make sure players get the hands-on practice they need to improve – instead of using a makeshift alternative.
- Learning Friendly Competition
When they play a sport, kids have to spend time together – and often play against each other. By learning how to compete with respect, they’ll learn to honor their coaches and their fellow teammates. They’ll also learn to recognize their teammates’ strengths and talents – and learn about their own strengths and talents in the process.
Friendly competition is also about learning how to deal with disappointment. When their team inevitably loses a game, they’ll learn the importance of congratulating their competitors and learning from their own mistakes. It’s also important to be respectful to the other team when you win the game, and the right environment will ensure kids shake hands and say, “Good game.”
- Developing Leadership Skills
Taking part in team sports doesn’t necessarily mean that your kids are going to become the next big name in football, basketball, or lacrosse. But they will learn some of the skills they need to become leaders in their own way – including discipline, focus, and patience.
Studies have also shown that students who participate in organized sports during their middle and high school years are more well-rounded individuals who do better in school and have better job prospects.
Problems with Youth Sports?
Most kids who play sports find great benefits from the practice, but it’s important to recognize certain challenges. For example, playing sports increases the risk of injury, with 2.6 million documented emergency room visits each year for athletes between the ages of 5 and 24.
There may also be psychological risks. Every child is unique, and some children may not benefit from the intensity and high demands of the commitment required – especially if they simply don’t enjoy playing the game.
Final Thoughts: Achieving Balance
For sports to reach their full benefit, the key is balance. Young people should participate in other activities in addition to their sport(s) of choice, like school clubs, volunteering, and more. By developing a well-rounded, complex identity that doesn’t rely solely on athletic success, kids will learn to see the world beyond just winning and losing.