If you’re a parent, you may be thinking about getting your child involved in sports. This is a great form of activity for kids, as well as a way for them to learn about teamwork and make friends who enjoy the same sport.
Kids should try sports for many reasons, but here are five things that’ll improve when they get up and play:
1. Short- & Long-Term Health
Youth and teen sports may be the answer you’ve been looking for if you have to drag the kids away from the TV or their phones. In 2018, the American Heart Association reported that kids spend an average of seven hours a day on computers, phones, and TV. But playing sports can ward off obesity as your child loses interest in sitting still to look at screens.
Along with leading more active lives today, kids who play sports are less likely to have health problems later in life. Short-term benefits for active children include:
- Better balance
- Strong muscles and bones
- Hand-eye coordination
- Reduced body fat
And long-term benefits may be:
- Chronic disease prevention
- Lower risk of cancer
- Lower risk of high blood pressure
2. Teamwork & Leadership Skills
An obvious benefit of joining a team is learning about teamwork! When kids play group sports, they must work well with others to pass the ball, communicate across the field, and help someone up if they fall. That teamwork and communication are skills they can take with them to school, for group projects, and in their future jobs.
Research also shows that sports can help children and teens build goal-setting and leadership skills. This is especially true if they’re team captains, but the benefits apply to anyone on the squad. When kids work together to win championships or score a certain number of points per game, they learn to encourage each other toward those goals.
3. Confidence & Mental Health
Positive, encouraging coaches and teammates can help your child build confidence in his or her abilities. You may have seen a coach pat a player on the back after he comes out of the game, or a player give her teammate a high five after scoring a goal. These simple gestures recognize a job well done, and your kiddo will feel great for succeeding on the field or court.
Building confidence by playing sports will also boost your child’s mood. One study surveyed students who exercised six to seven days a week, as well as students who exercised zero to one day a week. Only 25 percent of the first group reported signs of depression (feeling sad for two weeks or more). On the other hand, 35 percent of the less active group reported sad feelings. Thus, sports benefit children’s mental health as well as their physical health.
4. Organization & Time Management
It’s no secret that sports keep kids busy — but that’s a good thing! Your child will learn early on how to budget time for practice, homework, and games. This will also help to limit the screen time you may be worried about. For example, your kiddo may not be able to watch TV if she comes home from practice at 6, then has to finish her homework before bedtime at 9.
Not only will your child learn to keep her calendar organized; she’s also less likely to be interested in risky activities. For example, when kids and teens are occupied with school and sports, they don’t smoke or abuse drugs as much as their non-athlete peers. This isn’t to say you should max out your kid’s or teen’s schedule, but focusing on homework, sports, and friends is time well spent for any child.
5. School & Work Performance
Team sports can also benefit kids in the classroom by improving concentration. This helps them score up to 40 percent higher on standardized tests than students who don’t play sports. What’s more, high school athletes are 15 percent more likely to go to college than non-athletes. While not every student wants to go to college, it’s encouraging to know that sports play a role in helping kids achieve goals like higher education.
Athletes can also thrive in the workforce. Those who played team sports are more productive at work and may even earn 7 to 8 percent more than their non-athlete coworkers. This is especially true for active women. A survey of 400 female executives found that 94 percent had played a sport, and 61 percent said that sports helped them succeed in their careers.
Youth sports provide a fun environment as kids develop useful skills like time management and leadership. Your child will also stay healthy, become a great teammate, gain confidence, and succeed in school.
Whether your kiddo enjoys soccer, t-ball, or basketball, youth sports are a great opportunity for all children. If you’re looking for financial help, ask your gym’s front desk about scholarship programs.
The Lafayette Family YMCA is a community dedicated to healthy living and social responsibility. For more fitness tips and to stay up to date about YMCA events, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, or visit our website here.