Most parents understand the wide-ranging health and fitness benefits associated with encouraging their child to take up a team sport. These may include…
- Making regular exercise a habit from a young age
- Developing bone and muscle strength
- Developing cardiovascular fitness
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Learning the importance of eating right
- Reducing their risk of illness and disease
But what is less commonly talked about is the immense mental, emotional and social benefits that playing a team sport can offer your child.
There is now a growing body of research focusing on these benefits. This research highlights many advantages that your child will enjoy by becoming involved in team sports. It doesn’t even matter what sport your child decides to play, or their skill level. It’s the mental, emotional, social skills, and lessons that they will gain by playing any type of team sport that is important.
So, let’s look at some of the benefits of team sports for kids.
On a purely scientific level, when kids exercise they are happier. When we exercise our bodies release endorphins. These naturally occurring chemicals are scientifically proven to improve our mood, reduce stress, relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, boost self- esteem and help us sleep better.
This all leads to happier, positive, more relaxed kids every time they finish training or playing a game. Now what more could you want as a parent?
Learn Important Values
Being a part of a team will teach your kid important values that will guide them through their teenage years and into adulthood.
- Respect for coaches, teammates, opponents and umpires
- Discipline by learning to play as a team and follow the rules of the sport
- Patience by having to work alongside other players even if they don’t get along. Furthermore, understanding that the team comes before their own needs or desires
Build Self Confidence
Learning any new skill is a great way to build self-confidence and doing it as part of a team environment where your success leads to more success for those around you only serves to magnify that self-belief. Team sports help kids to confront setbacks and obstacles without seeing it as a negative reflection of themselves but more as a challenge to be overcome.
Professor Margaret Talbot, President of the International Council for Sport Science and Physical Education, once wrote: ‘Sports and other challenging physical activities are distinctively powerful ways of helping young people learn to ‘be themselves’. She suggests that ‘these sorts of activities can teach young people to question limiting presumptions they might have picked up, and come to view themselves and their potential in a new way.’
Improve Communication Skills
When playing as part of a team, communication is a crucial skill no matter what sport you’re playing. Important social skills such as, learning when to be quiet and listen, and to speak up for themselves when they have an idea, opinion, problem or solution are invaluable lessons they will learn from a team sport that will benefit your child again and again as they develop.
It’s not only verbal communication that improves either. Much of human communication is nonverbal. These types of nonverbal communication such as body language, eye contact and facial expressions form a large part of participating in any team sports.
As kids grow older they have an increasing number of duties to manage. This continues to grow as they enter adulthood. Having the responsibility of managing school and family duties as well as being on time for training and game day helps your kid to be better prepared for the increasing time demands they’ll face in the future.
Kids that play team sports have been found to perform better in the classroom as well. According to ‘Project Play’ by the Aspen Institute, kids that played team sport scored on average 40% better on school test results than those who played no sports at all.
They were also reported to have better behaviour and more respect for teachers in the classroom.
It’s important for kids to have a good support system around them. Often family is the main place they feel supported, as most schools tend to lack in this department. Sporting teams offer an ideal secondary support system and peer group to lean on when things are a little tough. Going to training and blowing off some steam is also a great alternative to some of the more negative behaviours kids can get up to after a bad day at school.
Making New Friends
There is often no better way to make new friends than to join a local sports team. Your child will make friends from different suburbs, backgrounds and cultures. They’ll learn tolerance and acceptance, and build relationships with kids they would never have meet before. But most of all they feel that they belong, and build a large network of friends from different schools which can be especially helpful when moving from primary to secondary school.
Make Lifelong Memories
The sporting victories and losses we experience, the friendships we develop, and the lessons we learn on the sporting field stay with us forever. Having the chance to be part of a sporting team and enjoying all the physical, mental, emotional and social benefits that comes with it is a gift that every child deserves to experience.
If you’re not sure where to get started when looking for a team sports for your child. Australian Sports Camps coaching programs are a great way to sample different sport for a few days each to see what your child enjoys the most.