by Sarah Lyons
If you are considering signing your child up for a team sport, but have reservations about the investment of your time and money, consider the benefits it can have for your child. Team sports provide the opportunity for your child to get some exercise and also provide the opportunity for social interaction and growth in their self-confidence.
Encourages a life outside school
“Our middle daughter really struggles academically, but excels in sports,” says Stefanie Eubanks, mother of three from Olathe. “Sports give her such confidence and they really help her self esteem tremendously!” Kids can feel like their lives revolve around school and people they interact while there. Playing community sports gives them the opportunity to meet people outside of their immediate social circle and gives them confidence to develop friendships in new situations.
Become part of a team
Working together for a common goal and achieving it helps build a strong bond between teammates. “Team sports help kids identify their place on the team even if they aren’t the star player. It also teaches compassion and empathy when teammates make mistakes,” says Kara Thomas, Colorado Springs mother. Kids who are part of a sports team learn to cheer each other on and feel the same support from their teammates during the game. They will also learn sportsmanship, compassion when someone gets hurt, and how get along with teammates, even when they don’t like each other. The ability to work as a team is a skill that they will use throughout life in school, at work, and even in a family unit.
Praise from coaches and other players
Everyone likes to hear praise for their efforts and hard work. Receiving praise from coaches and other players as they make improvements is much different than a pat on the back from mom or dad. Kids who play sports have the opportunity to set goals and celebrate as they meet these goals both individually and as a team.
Appreciation of diversity
Team sports draw children from all religions, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Working towards a common goal unifies the group; differences that may otherwise separate us become less important as the team works together.
You can’t always be the winner in team sports. Kids learn to lose, good sportsmanship and how to be empathetic when your teammates make mistakes. Jim Carrier, soccer coach and father of two says, “I wanted them to learn to win graciously, lose without losing, how to work together, support their teammates, a good work ethic, the joy of victory, confidence, and leadership skills. And most importantly, a place they belong.” Kids in all levels of sports, competitive or recreational, have the opportunity to gain priceless benefits that will last a lifetime.