Allowing your children to participate in youth sports is a fantastic way for children to explore and develop lifelong skills. Youth sports not only play an important role in exercise, but promotes mental and psychological advances as well. It is well-known that children who participate in sports are less likely to drop out of school, and become involved in drugs and alcohol activity, while they also excel in academic performances and sociability.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Physical development – Children who participate in sports develop stronger muscles and bones, and the stronger you are, the less likely you will suffer from physical injury. A New Zealand study conducted in 2006 suggested participating in physical exercise before and during the onset of puberty helps reach peak bone mass, enabling them to develop stronger muscles and bones that will be the foundation for future growth.
- Aids in weight control – Several studies have shown that childhood obesity is a growing problem in our society. Playing sports, however, will keep children active and aid in the fight in combating this problem. Having a controlled weight leads to happier children and decreases the risk of diseases that comes from being overweight in their lifetimes, such as heart disease and diabetes.
- Improves endurance: Participating in sports improves cardiovascular endurance. Increased cardiovascular health decreases the risk for heart disease which is the number one killer disease claiming almost 800,000 lives in 2011, according to the CDC. Having an increased endurance allows athletes to reach their full potential in sports but most importantly, will keep their heart healthy.
- Builds character – Playing sports at a young age enables children to participate in social interactions and build skills such as teamwork, leadership, and responsibility as they learn to work with others to achieve a common goal. This type of setting allows children to develop and practice different mental and moral qualities they acquire from their surroundings on the field, at the school and at home.
- Boosts self-esteem – Being part a of a team with similar goals will increase the child’s value of their self. What they contribute to the team – whether it be in leadership positions or in fulfilling important roles – will ultimately contribute to the boost in their self-esteem and their confidence. There are numerous studies that support the impact of youth sports on self-esteem. In fact, one Swiss study found that adolescents who participated in sports clubs viewed their health and their body image positively.
- Strengthens perseverance – Athletes are often placed in adverse situations on the field, both during game days and practices. During these high-pressure moments, the children learn to persevere through those challenges, and because there are so many of these moments in sports, the child will learn to quickly adapt to these situations and take them in stride. Practicing perseverance at a young age with this kind of adversity will lead to better coping skills, and critical thinking and application skills in life when they are met with bigger challenges.
- Develop teamwork skills – Teamwork is a skill you are going use for years to come, so it is important to learn the basics early. Youth sports provide children important lessons in team dynamics. Everyone must work together to achieve their goals, and sports allow children to sort through each others strengths and weaknesses to decide what strategy works best for the team.
- Teaches discipline – Playing sports require athletes to be disciplined in tactical, mental and physical aspects. In order to succeed in sports you must have self-restraint, and behave in a controlled and precise manner. Good discipline translates to life situations in order to achieve goals and reach their fullest potential.
- Promotes healthy competition – While naysayers like to claim youth sports are becoming too competitive, it is inevitable that as they grow, children will face competition in school, the workplace and their personal lives, so they must learn how to interact in competitive environments. Participating in sports will teach children how good sportsmanship and that trying your hardest will often yield great results.
- Provides guidance – As youths, children haven’t experienced nor learned what adults have, and because of this, children require guidance to make the right decisions. While parents and guardians are the ultimate mentors, participating in youth sports also gives athletes the opportunity to meet positive people, such as coaches and parent volunteers, who will guide them as they grow. Some examples of mentors include coaches and parent volunteers. In a study conducted by Big Brothers Big Sisters, children are 52% less likely to skip school if they have a mentor and 46% less likely to use drugs. There are tons of things out there to distract the impressionable youth, but sports gives them focus and people to make sure they stay on track.