GIVING THE GIFT OF PERSONAL GROWTH: HOW PARTICIPATING IN SPORTS HELPS KIDS
“Sports are the greatest tool we have in today’s society to help children develop positive character traits and life values,” says Greg Bach, Vice President of Communications for the National Alliance for Youth Sports. “No other place affords them the opportunity to soak up as many quality values as sports participation provides.”
Competition on and off the field gives kids the opportunity to experience successes and failures. Learning to maintain a positive attitude, win or lose is a valuable skill that can be applied to other areas of life. Remember that the most elite basketball players are successful around 50% of the time, and the greatest baseball hitters strike out 65 percent of the time.
DEALING WITH PRESSURE
Part of being an athlete is learning how to perform well under pressure. Learning how to relax, focus, and maintain confidence while under pressure will help kids deal with other pressurized situations like exams, job interviews and difficult social situations.
PLAYING BY THE RULES
Learning how to play fair is one of the most important things kids learn from sports. If they can win with humility and lose with pride, they leave the field with improved character. Getting them in the habit of being honorable even when it seems hard will help them value playing by the rules.
One of the most studied benefits of youth sports is the impact it has on academic performance. Studies have shown that GPA, attendance, and graduation rate is significantly higher for athletes than their non-athlete counter parts. Similarly, discipinary referrals and dropout rate is significantly lower for athletes versus non athletes. End of course english and math grades are also higher for athletes.
Here is an article about this study.
Bonding with coaches on the playing field helps kids be more open to communicating with adults and learning from what they have to say about life off the field. Coaches can have a positive influence and can instill healty habits. They can talk to kids about avoiding drugs, alcohol, and harmful substances that can hinder their athletic performance.
Being part of a team helps kids develop crucial social skills. They learn to value the contributions and talents of others as well as respect the needs and opinions of others as well. Their needs are often secondary to those of the team. This development can trasfer into their interactions with family, friends and school.