There are seemingly endless developmental benefits to playing team sports, ranging from building new friendships to strengthening math and language skills. Here are five excellent reasons to get your eager (or less than eager) young athlete out the door and onto the field, court, turf, or wherever their sport of choice might take them.
As children discover new physical abilities and develop that feeling of competence they begin to feel more effective in the world and build their sense of autonomy. Physical effectiveness and autonomy are related to the promotion of self- esteem.
2. Building Community
Playing sports gives kids a sense of camaraderie. They build new friendships and strengthen existing ones, learn to lead, learn to listen, cooperate, practice losing well, the list goes on. After the last year and a half of being glued to screens and being relatively socially isolated, team sports and games allow kids to be together physically in a positive and productive way.
3. Attention Span
Study after study have shown us that children get a boost in executive functioning skills after coordinative exercise experiences like bouncing two balls at the same time. More and more high performing schools are building in intermittent movement opportunities to boost kids’ focus. While playing sports, children are presented with a lot of stimuli, sensory and otherwise, that they need to process. Their brain needs to filter all of the noise and information, prioritize things, and then make quick decisions. They are getting real world practice at fine tuning their ability to attend to something when a lot of distractions are present.
4. Emotional Regulation
Physical and mental health are very much connected when it comes to well-being. If a child is struggling with their ability to regulate their emotions, or if they are having a hard time managing their interactions and relationships with others, the structured setting of team sports offers a safe and predictable environment to practice these skills. The expectations are made clear, the form of communication is relatively consistent, and generally speaking they have to get along with their teammates. Practicing emotional regulation skills as part of a team helps kids develop important life skills like resilience, coping with frustration, and honing effective communication skills.
5. Kick starting a healthy lifestyle
Kids grow tired of our seemingly endless demands to eat well and get more sleep. But when healthier choices are fuel for success at their chosen sport it all takes on a new and more meaningful feel. Exercise increases muscle strength and decreases children’s risk of diabetes and high cholesterol. Ultimately active children are more likely to be active and healthy adults.