All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.
Or nowadays is it – all video games and no sports makes Johnny an obese and lonely boy?!
It’s now more important than ever to help our kids get involved in youth sports. The benefits are incredible as we’ll talk about here. Whether it’s basketball, football, soccer, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, golf, or any sport at all, your kids will be happier having played something.
We’re going to show you 11 Amazing Benefits of Kids Playing Youth Sports and hopefully you’ll be getting your child a jersey soon!
- 1 11 Benefits of Kids Playing Youth Sports
- 1.1 Physical Development
- 1.2 Keeps Them Healthy Longer
- 1.3 Develop Teamwork Skills
- 1.4 Teaches Self Discipline
- 1.5 Builds Character And Self-Esteem
- 1.6 Provides Mentorship From Coaches
- 1.7 Boosts Confidence
- 1.8 Learn To Build Relationships
- 1.9 Dealing with pressure
- 1.10 Leads to Higher Grades, Expectation and Achievement
- 1.11 Ease The Transition Into College
- 1.12 Speaking of College…How About A Scholarship And A Degree
- 2 Wrapping It Up Here
11 Benefits of Kids Playing Youth Sports
Most sports are vigorous, involving a lot of physical activity. As a result, kids who play sports develop strong muscles and bones either in the sport or training for it. It’s common knowledge that the stronger you are, the less susceptible you are to physical injury, especially later in life.
An Australian study found a link between kids who are active and stronger bones. They analyzed the relationship between kids who watch a lot of TV and those who are more active. The study found that more active kids had stronger bones when they got older. The study highlighted that poor bone health can lead to osteoporosis which impacts more than 200 million women worldwide.
Keeps Them Healthy Longer
It’s no secret that physical activity is one of the best and cheapest ways to stay healthy. Even leisurely physical activity helps. One study by the National Institutes of Heath found that less than 3 hours of moderate physical activity per week can reduce the risk of 13 different types of cancers!
That’s 3 one-hour practices per week which most sports have that at minimum!
This study by Dr. Perkins was published in the Youth & Society Magazine. It showed that kids who play sports at a young age are 8 times more likely to be active and physically fit as young adults.
Develop Teamwork Skills
Clay is much easier to mold when it’s wet. And a kid will benefit greatly from learning this crucial life skill at an early age and where better to learn it than sports. Most organized sports have several players on the team. Even if your kids aren’t the “stars” or the starters, they’re still part of a team atmosphere. Even individual sports like tennis or golf still involve team aspects since they will be playing alongside other kids their age.
Where am I going with this? Players have to depend on each other for success of the team. If you’ve ever watched sports where the bench players are excitedly cheering on the other players, you know what I’m talking about.
Everyone on the team is out for the same mission.
Kids will learn how to adapt in tough situations and lean on each other when things get difficult. How better to prepare them for the real life difficulties than having controlled difficulties in sports?
And think of how much better your child will be in adult situations when the stakes are higher and they need to work with a team to finalize a successful deal or handle a huge project? Just see how a little known professional player impacted his team with this amazing story!
Teaches Self Discipline
Discipline is a characteristic that cannot be overemphasized these days! In our current world of instant gratification, discipline is becoming a lost art. With cell phones everywhere, the average person now has an attention span less than a goldfish...
Discipline is training hard for something. It’s putting in extra effort to run those last sprints, or take a few more free throws, or hit a few more drives. Discipline is getting up for 6AM practice before school. It’s not fun, but it teaches valuable lessons.
Most kids these days are used to an answer from Google within 3 seconds. And when an app doesn’t download in less than a minute, they’ve already forgotten about it and moved on. How will that translate into the real world when they grow up?
What project have you ever started and had done in a minute or less? Did you just give up or did you get it done because your boss was expecting an answer.
Sports help teach kids that discipline is crucial to the team success. You have to come to practice if you want to play. You have to show up on time or else everyone is going to run. You have to be on time for the bus to take you to games or you don’t play.
If all our kids learned the value of discipline, we’d definitely be setting them up for better success later on.
Builds Character And Self-Esteem
The research has been done. It’s pretty solid and it comes down to this statement:
Kids who are involved in sports or physical activity experience higher self esteem.
And as a side note, adults feel the same benefit here also.
Remember, self-esteem is the mental image a person has of themselves…whether it’s positive or negative. According to renowned child psychologist Jean Piaget, it begins forming in the younger child years (7-11) which happens to coincide closely to the time most kids get involved in sports.
This study, published in the Oxford Journals, showed a some distinct comparisons between adolescent athletes and non-athletes. It showed that athletes tend to have higher body image, better health in the future, and a lower tendency to attempt suicide.
Another great study published in the Melpomene Journal showed clear results that teenage girls tended to have higher confidence scores when involved in some physical activity for 2.5 hours per week. They studied a wide range of girls based on age (12-17 years old) and race and the results were consistent.
The confidence was measure by two different questionnaires that covered a range of confidence in the girls’ perceived ability in sports, math, science, school and life in general.
Here is a quote from one girl in the study talking about how sports help her:
“I think it’s the biggest rush you can get when you do well’ and I like to see my parents proud, and it kind of gets you a name in the school — you’re not just another person, you have something that people know you for.”
If that doesn’t sum things up, what will?
Bottom line for that study was a clear linear relationship between physical activity (aka sports) and confidence levels. More physical activity equals more confidence and competence.
Not only that, but kids (young kids especially) learn by developing motor muscles. They explore the world through movement and different tasks help them feel successful. Take this study for example, it showcased how small goals in movement helped build a solid foundation in children.
All they did was have kids set a small goal (bouncing a ball ten times and working toward 20) to achieve. When the kids finally achieved the goal, positive reinforcement was given and it showed in the reaction from the kids.
Something so simple had such powerful results. And it is all through movement, which is basically sports!
Here’s the only caveat to this point… A lot of this depends on the coach.
It’s not fun to say, but it’s true. Self esteem is commonly built by either being praised for good things or being punished for bad things. A good coach will keep the praise high and use constructive criticism to help the players improve.
A bad coach can turn the entire experience into a nightmare and make you regret ever putting your child in a sport.
Thankfully, in many youth sports they are always open to having more coaches so you might be able to find yourself a spot on your child’s team. That will be a great experience for both you and them!
Provides Mentorship From Coaches
Mentorship is another dying art in our society. It was the norm back in the today when a person would become an apprentice. Today everyone thinks they can do it “on their own” with YouTube.
Coaches can be a fantastic mentor! They are another authority figure in a child’s life that don’t come home with them. Most often, a coach is someone a child is choosing to be around as opposed to being forced.
And as we said before, the right coach can make all the difference. Think of Michael Jordan. He looked up to his college coach, Dean Smith, and thought of him as an invaluable mentor. That’s how it should be between athlete and coach.
If you watched Allen Iverson get inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, you heard him thank his college coach for saving his life. That coach, John Thompson, gave Iverson the chance to succeed and he believed in Iverson. Another example of how it should be.
The men and women who coach our children are incredibly important. They can help reinforce the values and morals parents do. And often times, kids are more receptive to a coach.
So if coaches and parents can be on the same page, it can create a fantastic team of positive reinforcement for kids to truly reach their potential.
- Increased high school graduation
- Lower rate of high school dropout
- Higher enrollment in college and other higher education
- Improved behavior at school and home
- Decreased likelihood of starting drugs and alcohol
In additional to that kids typically have better relationships with each other, with parents, and with teachers. Talk about the benefit of one simple mentor.
As a parent, there’s not much that’ll give you more joy than seeing your child succeed. One easy area to see success is sports. And when you praise them (especially in public) it will do wonders to boost their confidence.
Developing confidence in life is essential for many reasons, but arguably the most important is this.
High confidence helps kids bounce back from mistakes easier and faster.
Need we say more?! Think of how many mistakes our kids (especially teenagers…) make. Dozens per hour or more maybe 🙂
Now think if they had low self confidence, how would they react? Probably beat themselves up and run to the corner for a few hours. But a confident kid can see the failure, analyze it and know that they’ve learned something.
They don’t dwell on the issue because they are confident in themselves and their ability. They know next time they’ll beat that situation.
Sports brings that out of kids because they are constantly put in situations where they could fail. Thankfully, it’s just a game, but it simulates real life situations. If a kid misses a free throw, but has high confidence, there’s a good chance they believe they’ll make the next one.
Or if you child misses the landing off the balance beam, they know they’ve practiced that move long and hard and they’ll stick it next time.
Confidence matters. And confident people are more likely to be successful down the road, have better health, and improve your social interactions.
Learn To Build Relationships
Sometimes the friends you make in sports become your best friends for life. At least that has happened with many people we know.
Sports gives a bonding experience that other situations cannot duplicate. OK actually military relationships can.
If you’ve ever heard athletes talking about “brotherhood,” “sisterhood,” or “tribe” you may already understand this. These kids playing sports together learn to trust one another. This is different than building teamwork skills because you’re going to have teammates you don’t like but must play with anyway.
Building relationships means actually becoming friends with people they may never have met before. If your kid gets really involved with sports, you’ll see that many of the same kids are pursuing sports. Those kids will constantly be practicing and playing together.
In fact, one study by the University of Alberta found that kids confidence in their sporting abilities related closely with the number and types of friendships they have. The lead researcher discovered that kids who had lower athletic confidence actually felt lonelier at school.
That’s not to say your kid has to be the All-Star, but if they start younger they can develop some talent and feel good about it later.
Dealing with pressure
Pressure is a killer to some and an adventure to others. Usually those who’ve never experience pressure before are the scared ones who cave under it. Feeling pressure more often makes it seem familiar.
And familiarity breeds confidence (see how these all relate!).
Sports give a controlled environment to experience pressure. Nothing feels better than nailing a game winning jumper or kicking that winning penalty kick or serving the game-winning ace.
Handling pressure is best learned under fire and then developed afterwards. It’s difficult for parents to simulate real pressure, but sports have it naturally.
We all want our kids to be able to handle tough situations. Whether it’s a daughter standing up to a boy who’s getting too physical. Or a son refusing drugs even when his friends are doing it.
Those are real life pressure situations that parents aren’t always around for. Sports teach kids how to handle those situations and be prepared for the difficulties of life.
Leads to Higher Grades, Expectation and Achievement
Some people think that playing sports will prevent kids from getting good grades. Actually the research proves just the opposite.
One of many studies has shown a very strong connection between high school sports and higher grades. This study in particular was by the LA84 organization and the University of Minnesota and it documented exactly that.
A strong positive connection between sports participation and academic achievement.
Or take this study by the Los Angeles Unified School District that studied 35,000 students. Their research shows that students involved in sports achieved a higher overall GPA between 0.55 and 0.74 points higher than non-athletes. Those athletes also attended school an average of 21 days more than non-athletes.
Another study by the Division of Adolescent and School Health for the Disease Control found a positive connection between sports and increased concentration.
The evidence is all right there, over and over again. You want your kids to perform better in the classroom… get them a jersey!
Ease The Transition Into College
Sports has a way of uniting people around the world. Just see how people are around the Olympics or the World Cup. It’s remarkable! So imagine how beneficial it can be for your child to go to college and instantly connect with other athletes who played similar sports. It gives easy ice breakers and conversation starters. Those friends could (and most likely will) be lifelong friendships!
Speaking of College…How About A Scholarship And A Degree
Listen, not all athletes are going to get scholarships. But a lot more do than you may realize. Scholarship Stats put the number around 178,000 kids receive full scholarships for sports each year. But that doesn’t include partial or academic incentives scholarships. Adding those in more than doubles the amount available!
According to the NCAA, there is about a 6% chance each high school graduate will play either in Division I II or III for sports. That may not seem like a lot, but any scholarship money is better than none.
However, that same NCAA article also notes the incredible graduation rate of college athletes! Specifically, Division I athletes graduate at 86%, Division II at 71% and Division III at 87%.
Wrapping It Up Here
So we’ve talked about the amazing benefits of youth sports. And we hope you see the value they can provide. As parents, we know they’re time consuming and sometimes crazy with practice schedules. But look at the facts. It’s a positive investment in our kids. And that’s the best we can do to prepare them for this fun thing called life.