The Benefits Of Getting Children/Teens Into Sports

By CoachDeck Contributor, Helen Young

There was a time when kids would always be outside playing sports with their friends. Football, basketball, softball, and just plain old running around were common sights in every neighborhood. While you still see these activities today, the increasing popularity of video games and other indoor activities mean the number of youths participating in sports has significantly declined over the past couple of decades.

Good habits are formed in our childhood. If a child hasn’t has sporting experiences while they’re young, they’re unlikely to naturally pick up a sport once they reach their teenage years. Yet there are a whole host of benefits that sporting activity can bring. Some of these benefits, like improved health and fitness, are obvious, but there are also many others that can have a huge impact on a child or teenagers well-being.

Don’t worry if your child is late to the world of sport. It’s always possible for a person to pick up a new activity, especially when they’re so young. The benefits listed below will make sure the effort is worth it.

Benefits

Positive Social Group

Being a teenager isn’t easy. They want to stand out, be accepted, and are trying to find their place in the world. It’s easy to see how these thoughts can lead a person astray. In their search to find a place in the world, they could quite easily fall into a bad crowd or become a person who they’ll regret becoming later.

Playing sport gives them an outlet for these confused emotions. Their team will become the social group, working positively to reach a goal, while they’ll also be given plenty of opportunities to stand out and create their own identity, away from their roles in the family or at school. On a more practical level, children who participate in sporting activities simply have less time to fall into bad situations.

Avoiding Alcohol and Drugs

There’s no avoiding that alcohol and drug use among teenagers is far too prevalent in today’s society. Yet rather than just looking at the number of users, we need to ask why they feel the need to use alcohol or drugs in the first place. The use of alcohol in movies and other media drives a lot of teenage temptation, as does a need to escape from the problems of their everyday life. Mental health issues also play a factor: 20% of children will experience depression before adulthood, while 11% of youth suffer from ADHD.

Sport activity helps with all of these issues. Teenagers are less likely to be tempted by what they see in movies if they have a strong identity of their own, and playing sport will also already give them an escape from their other problems. Physical activity, team camaraderie, and a sense of belonging also have a dramatically positive effect on symptoms of depression.

Inspiration and Life Skills

Playing a sport is primarily about fun, but it’s also about competing and striving to be the very best you can be, which is a life skill that will a person in good stead when they reach adulthood. Additionally, being surrounded by inspiring role models, such as coaches, parents, and other athletes, will also inspire them to reach their best. A child who has positive role models in their life will receive a wide range of benefits, including strong self-esteem, how to succeed and overcome problems, and how to deal with emotions. Teenagers are highly susceptible to the environment in which they’re in; it’s much better to be in a positive team, in which you’re contributing to success, than in situations that could lead to poor life choices.

A child can also learn important leadership skills just by participating in sports, be it a team or individual effort. Seeing how their actions influence the result, making and trusting their decisions, and learning to trust others are all lessons that form part of the recipe of success.

The health benefits of sports are well documented, but we rarely hear of the wide reaching and positive effects they can also have on the development of children and teenagers. Sports can provide them with the tools for long-term success, and also give them a healthy body and mind – with little to no drawbacks.


Resources

http://www.science.smith.edu/exer_sci/ESS200/children/youthsports.pdf

http://news.utexas.edu/2004/03/23/nr_video_games

http://www.rehabs.com/pro-talk-articles/when-teens-choose-to-use-top-6-reasons-teens-turn-to-alcohol-and-drugs/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/use_sports-team_participation_to_build_character

http://www.pamf.org/teen/health/sports/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/68593-effects-good-role-models/

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One Response

  1. […] As we’ve covered before, the benefits of getting young people into sports are manifold. Plenty of parents are lucky. Once they’ve won the initial struggle to drag their child off the sofa and onto the sports field, the child has the time of their life and is eager to go back. For other parents it’s a different story. The same struggle happens over and over again, with the children clearly hating the sport they’re being forced to play. This can be heartbreaking as a parent, and many feel an agonizing struggle between their child’s health and their happiness. Which would be better in the long run – giving your child all the benefits of playing a sport, but sacrificing their short-term happiness? Or letting your child stagnate on the sofa but saving them from misery? In many cases, if you can get to the bottom of precisely why your child is resistant to sports, the whole issue can be avoided. So why do some children hate sports? […]

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