Decreased physical activity (PA) in children is a global health problem. PA during childhood has multiple health benefits. Therefore, opportunities to engage youth in PA such as sports, physical education classes, active transport and unstructured physical activities, are critical in encouraging healthy lifestyles in adolescents (Mandic 2012). With less time dedicated to physical education and free play, there is a greater need to promote sports for kids.

1. Can Lead to a Healthy Lifestyle

Making exercise a part of a young athlete’s life teaches the importance of fitness. When I was a kid, I hated to exercise. I played a new sport every season, it helped me stay active while having fun. With today’s research, parents and coaches realizing proper nutrition plays an important role in maintaining health. Kids need physical activity every day and participation in sports fill this need. With the new video games and studying, daily physical activity is rarely accomplished. Getting your child involved with sports helps them make exercise a part of their lifestyle and provides them with the proper tools for being a healthier adult.

2. Can Help You Feel Good About Yourself

When a kid realizes that they are improving at their sport, they can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. There are times in every athletes life where everything is not going according to plan. Choosing a sport your child can grow and improve in gives your child an opportunity to build self-esteem (Mandic 2012). With positive reinforcement from outside sources (coaches, family, friends) they will gain confidence and have a more positive view of themselves.

3. Helps You Create a Goal

It is safe to say that goal setting and success go hand in hand. Participation in sports gives your athletes a fun, practical way to learn about goal setting. They will get experience, and learn about how goal setting is accomplished. If a coach doesn’t cover goal setting, you as a parent can sit down with your child and set goals. Having your child create long and short term goals can give them a better chance at succeeding in life.

4. Helps Them Experience Team Work

All throughout my playing career and in interviews I would always hear “team player” or a candidate that “works well with others”. Sports teach children about teamwork and about how their actions affect other people. If they can’t learn to work together with teammates while playing a sport they enjoy, how will they be able to work with co-workers they may or may not like while performing a job they may or may not enjoy? This is an important lesson to learn. It is important that your athletes becomes a team player and, as a sports parent, encourage this trait in your child.

5. Builds Time Management Skills

Adding extracurricular activities to your child’s schedule encourages development of and time management and prioritization skills (Mandic 2012). Teach your child that taking care of business, such as school work and chores, comes first. This gives them the tools for prioritization. Help your child by creating a plan which helps them handle their responsibilities while still leaving time for sports practices and games.

6. Helps You Deal with Adversity

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has ups and downs. How well you handle these mistakes and problems directly can affect your quality of life. Many people “get in a slump” and can’t get out of it. In baseball if you can get a hit 3 out of every 10 at- bats you’re in the hall of fame. Others continue making the same mistakes over and over again. In sports, we always try to minimize errors, but we’re human. Mistakes happen. Even professional athletes a stretch of horrible games, but it’s not the mistake that counts. What you do to fix it is very important. What helped me in my life was if I made a mistake, I would learn what I did wrong, try to fix it and then move on. If your child learns how to deal with adversity and errors they’ll be able to minimize mistakes as well as competently recover from setbacks.
Positive experiences play an essential role in raising a happy, healthy human being (Mandic 2012). Sports provide numerous opportunities for positive experiences both for your child as an individual, and for your family as a whole. “Sports parents” should be proud to have the chance to watch their child have fun while learning and developing as an athlete and as a human being.
If you’re a youth athlete in the Bay Area, consider getting a complimentary performance screen at COR!
Reference:
1. Mandic S, Bengoechea EG, Stevens E, de la Barra SL, Skidmore P. Getting kids active by participating in sport and doing it more often: focusing on what matters. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012 Jul 12;9:86.
Written by Chris Barber, CPT