Team sports. Just do it.
Team sports are about so much more than their physical benefits and winning. This is especially so when group sports activities are incorporated into a young person’s life. From academics to decision making, to mental health, every child needs to play a team sport, and here's why...
...team sports foster the development of soft skills which translate into life long skills off the pitch.
Soft skills are personal attributes that allow people to build positive social relationships. Team sports are an excellent source of soft skills development, as they allow athletes to grow within a supportive environment.
While it might not be as obvious as sitting down and discussing a group project, team sports take a lot of communication — both spoken and unspoken. Communication skills are key in maintaining a functioning sports team, whether it’s listening to locker room pep talk, picking up on nonverbal cues given by other players, or expressing a thought during a post-game debrief.
Players are expected to express their concerns, hopes, and disappointments to their coaches and their teammates. Players are encouraged to seek feedback from coaches as well as their classroom teachers, as a result fostering communications skills that will help them succeed in their academic endeavors.
Sports plays happen fast, and athletes develop the skills needed to make effective snap decisions. Whether it’s a basketball player deciding to shoot or a soccer player realizing his best move is to pass to a teammate for the assist, athletes learn critical decision-making skills that will benefit them both during and after game time.
Any athlete who has played in a championship game knows the meaning of pressure. Sports create an environment where athletes learn to conquer their natural “fight or flight” instinct to make consistent and difficult decisions under high pressure situations. This ability to function under pressure translates to person who is better at making deadlines and working in stressful situations in the future.
This is an obvious one. Teamwork is all about collaborating with others to reach a common goal. The diverse pairing of personalities and scenarios will help your athlete become adaptable, persistent, and patient. Team sports also teach a sense of group and individual responsibility.
Being on a team with a dozen or more of your peers is an excellent way to recognize the individual talents each person brings to the table. As the Janssen Sports Leadership Center says, working with teammates teaches athletes important life skills such as to respect one another, act in unselfish ways, make good decisions on behalf of the team, and not cut corners.
Children build friendships with other children and their coaches, which is a great way for them to expand their social skills and understand expectations.
You know the old cliche, "there is no 'I' in team?" Organized sports teach children the essential life skill of getting along with teammates they might not necessarily like. According to licensed marriage and family therapist Bette Alkazian, team sports teach children how to overlook an annoying teammate or a bad attitude. They also encourage friendship and empathy for fellow teammates. "When a friend gets hurt, you cheer for him and hope he finds the inner strength to push through and play on," she says.
Team sports bring together kids from various religious and cultural backgrounds, which is bound to provide a valuable learning experience. Teammates must learn how to adapt to and accept each others' cultures so they can work together as a team. Learning how to get along with people with many different personalities and with different cultures is a skill that will be needed when they enter the workforce and will take your child far past high school.
The time commitment required by athletes can be comparable to that of a full-time job. Think of all the different commitments an athlete needs to juggle: competitions, strength and conditioning, team meetings, sports physiotherapy — and these are just the sports-related obligations!
Necessity demands that athletes learn valuable time management skills, otherwise they would never be able to keep up with academics and sport. Effective time management planning is part of why a recent article published by Fast Company argues employers should consider hiring a former student athlete.
Team athletes know that every second counts, and this value of time will translate to their everyday life. As Shannon Miller, a member of the 1992 and 1996 United States Olympic women’s gymnastics team told Forbes, she kept a schedule that was almost minute by minute when she was an athlete. This careful planning and precision helps athletes focus on reaching their goals sooner than non-athletes.
Build Self-Esteem and a Sense of Community aka They Find Their Swagger
Team sports are said to bolster the five C’s: competence, confidence, connections, character, and caring. At the heart of this is self-esteem – an increased sense of self as a result of better social interactions, stronger relationships, and higher academic performance.
Team sports provide athletes with a natural community. A report from True Sport says that youth who play sports have higher levels of social support, and that the sense of community created with teammates, coaches, and family members incubates the perfect setting for critical self-esteem development.
When playing a sport, children have the opportunity to show their skills, gain greater self-awareness, and enjoy an activity that they love the most. thus increasing their confidence.
Team sports are a huge self-esteem booster for kids to help them find their swagger. They'll gain greater confidence by learning about their own strengths and capabilities. In addition, kids involved in athletics tend to be natural leaders and learning leadership skills at a young age will be a big boost someday in the corporate world.
For girls entering adolescence, team sports are especially important. As Tonia Caselman, Ph.D., points out, this is a time when most girls are being bombarded by messages about the importance of their looks and popularity, which can take a toll on their self-esteem and even lead to eating disorders. Team sports help build their confidence by proving that they're valued for more than just their looks.
Organized athletics also have the power to give your children courage. Picture it now: The team is tied with two seconds left, and your child is handed the basketball just in time to make the game-deciding shot. When the buzzer goes off, the ball goes through the net and your child throws her hands up in victory, you'll be reveling in her courage and confidence.
Engaged Athletically, Engaged Academically
Studies have shown a direct correlation between physical activity and academic performance. A University of Kansas study looking at the performance of students in grades 9 to 12 showed that more than 97% of student athletes graduated high school, 10% higher than those students who had never participated in sports. Athletes were also shown to have better G.P.A. outcomes than non-athletes.
This might have to do with the increased cognitive ability that comes from playing sports. Physical activity naturally increases blood flow to the brain and activates endorphins, chemicals that are released when you exercise. Endorphins can impact your mood and work performance, meaning athletes may be more willing and capable of tackling that next big problem.
Team sports can also help with emotional development. Research published by the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute states that exercise can lead to a unique state of short-term relaxation. That relaxation can promote increased concentration, better memory, enhanced creativity, more effective problem solving, and an improved mood — all benefits that will extend into the classroom.
Build Positive Role Models
Team athletes are constantly working with a slate of other people, many of whom can become positive role models along the way. Team sports foster mentorship between older players and younger players, coaches and athletes, and more.
Coaches in particular can play an important role in a young athlete’s life. Players who have positive sports mentors when they’re young are also more likely to seek effective role models throughout their life.
Learning about values
Playing a team sport provides kids with important lessons in personal values. Kids learn that things aren't going to go their way all the time, and that they need to respect their peers as well as referees and sports officials.
These experiences can influence them throughout their lives such as when it comes to working for a boss, or respecting the police or other authority figures.
When playing on a team, kids, coaches and parents spend plenty of time together. Making sure everyone gets along comes down to one simple word: respect. Not only will your little athletes learn to respect and honor their coach and the coach's decisions, but also to respect their fellow teammates. By noticing the strengths that each individual player brings to the team, they'll learn to appreciate and respect each others' talents. It's healthy to be competitive, but respect fosters a friendly competition that pushes each teammate to be the best he can be.
Creates future leaders
Even if your children don't have the athletic prowess to be the next Tom Brady, team sports give them some of the skills needed to be the next Bill Gates! Kids who participate in team sports are also more likely to be active, hard working students, and better future workers. That's because organized athletics teach kids how to be disciplined during practice, how to focus on the task at hand, and how to have patience when the going gets tough. Children playing team sports also have to learn how to achieve balance between their schoolwork and athletics, which fosters a strong work ethic both on and off the pitch.
In the end, the opportunity to participate in team sports provides athletes with valuable skills that will take them beyond the field, pitch, and court.