Youth sports are an important training ground for children. Whether they play softball, soccer, football, basketball, hockey—or better yet, all of the above and then some—the discipline, teamwork and other healthy habits they gain will serve them throughout their lives.
Playing sports can also create lifelong friendships and build social skills they’re unlikely to be able to acquire from classroom activities alone.
Kids reap lasting benefits from playing in school or community leagues, no matter what their level of innate athletic talent is:
Healthy Heart, Bones and Weight
Playing sports will lead to better health no matter your age, but getting started at the ground level gives children a firm foundation. Kids who participate will build more lean muscle and carry less fat on their bodies, which leads to better heart health and a healthy weight. Rigorous and weight-bearing exercises also builds their bone density, same as with their parents.
Early sports participation lets kids earn praise from adults and peers for their hard work, improvement and dedication to team goals. This helps them start to form their own identities around these and other activities they enjoy. Forming friendships and successfully using social skills learned in the sports environment also helps build self-confidence that will be critical as they undertake new challenges and risks.
Many important skills fall under this heading. Learning how to accept defeat and respect your opponents’ performance is as important as enjoying a win without gloating or demeaning members of the other team. Respect for rules and authority, supporting your teammates and employing self-control all are essential components of sportsmanship that can be learned in a youth sports setting.
Many studies have shown a positive link between playing high school or college sports and higher grades, a correlation with many possible factors.
These include the positive impact of exercise on brain function, learning about the importance of practice and discipline on the field, schools setting minimum GPAs for athletes, and the additional attention athletes tend to get from peers and teachers.