Beyond the obvious benefits of getting more physical exercise, there are many other important reasons why playing a sport can be great for your child.
Socializing and making friends
Learning how to interact and get along with other kids is a skill that can sometimes be taken for granted in today’s tech-heavy world. But kids can develop important social skills for their future simply by engaging in less FaceTime and more face-to-face time. Plus, when we’re young, our best friendships typically come from the various clubs and activities we’re involved in. Kids open up more and develop a greater level of comfort around kids who they know are into the same sport or activity.
Handling highs and lows
Sports are a great way to teach kids how to deal with losses and failures — and more importantly, how to quickly bounce back from those events. Also, learning how to celebrate wins while maintaining compassion and respect for one’s opponents is just as important. These are skills that transcend the sports arena and also apply to the challenges and successes your child will experience in other areas of their life.
Not surprisingly, figuring out how to play well with others and operate as a unified team is one of the big benefits of playing sports. However, this is most certainly a skill that needs to be taught and practiced. Your child may start out as the “ball hog,” or as the child who’s afraid to touch the ball for fear of messing up. Soon though, with the help of a good coach, those initial tendencies fall to the background and a new picture emerges of the collective team, with your child recognizing their crucial role in that team’s success.
Learning responsibility and discipline
Sports are also excellent for instilling a sense of responsibility in your child. Practices and games start at a specific time, and being late or not showing up at all has a negative impact on the rest of the team. This helps kids be more aware of appointments and deadlines, and makes them responsible for managing their own schedule. This sense of discipline then transfers over to their school and work lives, too.
Thinking on their feet
Being able to react quickly and calmly to changing circumstances is another trait learned via participation in sports. Perhaps your child’s opponent suddenly changes their tactics and your child needs to adjust their approach accordingly to stay in the game. Or maybe a teammate gets injured and your child finds themselves needing to play a different position that they’re not used to. Unexpected events like these happen all the time in sports, so young athletes learn to think quickly and adapt on-the-fly to succeed.
Kids who are involved in sports always have a goal in mind (no pun intended). Whether it’s as simple as winning the next game, or as lofty as qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team, having a clear goal to work towards is a highly beneficial practice that sporty kids develop early on. And of course, this helps them accomplish great things in their non-sporting lives as well. Because as the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”
This is a big one — sporty kids are more confident! Why? Because they learn early on that setbacks are temporary, and that they can bounce back from their failures to achieve great successes. And when they do achieve those successes after much hard work, they’re rewarded with praise, awards, trophies, and more. Their achievements and accomplished goals reinforce their belief in themselves and their abilities, and give them the confidence that they can achieve other great things in life as well.