Youth sports can have a very positive impact on children. These activities aren’t just good for their growing bodies, they also are good for their minds. Sports teach important life skills. The physical benefits of children participating in sports is obvious. This is becoming increasingly important as so many of today’s kids spend extended time being sedentary, engaged in screen time activities. While screen time can be positive too, often it takes the place of physical activity. Physical activity has been shown to stimulate chemicals in the brain that promote emotional wellness
Benefits of Youth Sports
The developmental benefits of sports go well beyond simply learning new physical skills. Sports include winning or losing. It is important to recognize that even if your child is not winning, they can still have fun and enjoy playing the sport. Losing can teach children how to bounce back from disappointment and develop coping skills. It promotes the development of becoming resilient. It is not necessary for children to always win because they need to experience what it feels like to lose. This teaches empathy.
Of course winning is not bad! Winning boosts self confidence and self esteem. Sports can also help in developing patience and understanding that it may take a lot of practice and hard work to develop their skills. Being a part of a team can help develop children’s self esteem when the environment is healthy, supportive, and encouraging. The support of the team members, positive coaching (and parenting), and seeing their skills develop will help boost a kid’s self esteem.
There are many social benefits of being involved with team sports. These skills are used throughout life. It can help develop the skills of listening to other players, cooperation, and how to support each other. It can give kids a sense of belonging as well as helping develop new friendships.
Another key part of playing on a team is following directions and accepting discipline. Kids are expected to follow the rules of the sport and accept the consequences when they do not. Kids learn how to take directions from the coach, referees, and even other team mates. They learn what team work is all about!
The Role of Parents in youth Sports
A component that is often overlooked is the parents’ role in team sports. Many parents are not aware of how their response and comments impact their child. Parents, focus on your child having fun and being active, rather than winning or losing. Be positive! This includes praising your child or team efforts, even when they do not win. Be aware of your side line comments, keeping them positive to the players, coaches, and referees. Be your child’s and team’s biggest cheerleader. Let the coaches and referees take charge of the team.
The following was taken from The Thinking Branch. It captures so many points, especially our role as parents, which is often a very big key in how a child responds to playing team sports.
It was HER that said it.
On the way home from the soccer field, my goalie daughter said:
“Mom, I should have turned my wrists down on that last goal they scored instead of keeping my hands flat. It would have made the ball go to the ground like Coach Erik teaches me instead of it going up and over me like it did. I’m gonna get better at that.”
I glanced in the rearview mirror to see if her face showed the excitement I thought I heard in her voice.
“That’s so cool you noticed that,” I said. “You’ve been working hard on your technique, and it’s so fun to watch you play.”
As I continued down the road, she and her little sister were already discussing what slushie flavor they were going to get – but I kept thinking about what she said.
Instead of beating herself up for a mistake, you could tell she felt empowered that she knew what she did wrong – without anyone else having to point it out – and could adjust the next time.
This was different from other rides home where – before we got out of the parking lot – I’d suggest something she could have done better or ask her why she didn’t do something in a certain way – not to be hard on her, but (in my mind) to “help” her.
But those conversations never went the way this one did.
Those left her feeling frustrated. You could see it on her face she felt attacked and like she was letting me down. I’d remind her I was “just trying to help” and she’d ask to change the subject.
But in that recent moment, I realized how powerful it can be when you let coaches coach and let kids find the answers within themselves.
How powerful it is when you accept your job as a parent is to support their growth and not always point out where it needs to happen.
How powerful it is when you see your kids gain the tools to self evaluate…and you start to do some of your own about your role in their sports journey.
I’m not always going to get it right.
But just like my goalie plans to tighten up her technique the next game, on the drive home after it – I’ll tighten up mine, too.
By letting the coaches coach and my player play.
And staying in MY lane where my job is to give her space to grow and keep reminding here I’m here for her along the way.
Here are a few youth sports options in our local communities. Many offer scholarships if there is a financial hardship. Your area Chamber of Commerce may also be a resource in locating activities.
- Belgrade Girls Softball
- Bozeman Girls Softball
- Soccer (AYSO)
- Bozeman Swim Club
- Belgrade Baseball
- Bozeman Baseball
Click here to learn how to minimize your child’s risk for sports related injuries.