Involvement in sports and other structured physical activities can provide several important benefits for children and teenagers. While the physical aspect seems obvious, with consistent activity levels helping to maintain a healthy weight and lowering chances of cardiovascular disease, there are other key advantages that are worth considering when it comes to long-term personality traits that will translate into several other aspects of life as an adult.
Let’s take a look at 5 of the top ways that kids benefit from playing sports, beyond simply considering the physical:
BETTER ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
At first glance, it can be easy to think that sports can distract our students since they require a lot of time and energy. This is a common misconception. Granted, it’s true that kids will, from time to time, try to use sports an excuse for lack of effort in the classroom, but that is an issue separate from what we are considering at the moment. The University of Michigan has done a great study that shows how sports are proven to help develop memorization, repetition, and learning skills; which can be applied in regular classroom and learning settings to help student athletes succeed in academics.
DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK SKILLS
Motivated by the same goal, sports largely involve coaches teaching young players effective team building strategies, as well as how to communicate with one another to implement them in game settings. The quick and inherent realization that every player needs to succeed in their role for a team to have success plays a massive role in accelerating the development of inherited (and taught) leadership skills. These skills translate to improved abilities to help solve problems at home, at school and ultimately in the workplace.
LIFE LONG MEMORIES AND EXPERIENCES
Did you participate in sports as kid? If not, ask someone that you know who did, what are some of their fondest memories from childhood? For many, sports plays a prominent role in those positive memories. The experiences one lives through sports from friendships to heartbreak and to the most amazing victories, are all moments that often stay with you for a lifetime. Not to mention all of the opportunities to travel and experience things that many of us never would at that age had it not been for sports. These memories and experiences all contribute to a deeper well of knowledge to pull from in various situations as a growing adult.
IMPROVED SELF ESTEEM
Hard work always pays off, one way or another. It doesn’t even require having been on a team that had an incredible amount of success. Simply achieving a goal that your (or a coach) set out for you while learning and practicing a sport will boost self-confidence. It’s an inherently rewarding process that encourages us to keep achieving other goals inside of and outside of sports, while fueling us with the growing self worth of past goals met.
Exercising is a great natural solution to let go of stress; and yes, kids have it whether we realize it or not. It may be as simple as a tough situation at school that day or more complex like a difficult family situation at home. That time away from it all to simply focus on your sport and work hard – releasing endorphins – is a huge benefit. The involvement with a team also provides coaches and friends that you can talk to in order to help work through an issue or blow off steam.
It becomes easy to see that the benefits of sport are not simply for physical health. There are many other excellent long term reasons to encourage our kids, family and friends to develop their interest for sports. Share the benefits you experienced from sports as a kid in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!