« Back to FFLF News

April 20, 2016

10 Benefits of Youth Sports, Surprisingly, ‘Winning’ Doesn’t Make The Cut.

Orig Post www.youthletic.com | Re-Post Fight For Life Foundation 4/20/2016

It’s easy to see the perks of having your child in a sport when the child wins a game. The big grins, the excited dash across the field – what’s not to love?

Beyond that, though, there are innumerable benefits to enrolling your child in youth sports.  Here are 10 of the best reasons:

1. The health benefits, of course

In 2012, one in three U.S. children was considered obese, and with that, increasingly at risk of diabetes or other obesity-related health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma or cancer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents push an active lifestyle for children of all ages, arguing it’s not only necessary to preventing obesity, but to helping children meet the physical  benchmarks needed for appropriate physical development.

2. The psychological benefits

Here’s another perk to play: The American Academy of Pediatrics also reports that regular physical activity helps kids of all ages regardless of weight. Participation helps decrease anxiety and depression.

3. The lessons you don’t necessarily learn in school

Dave Gleason, director of youth performance for the International Youth Conditioning Association said sports can push children to use creativity in ways that can help them throughout their lives.

“When we’re out on the field or on the court, or ice or whatever, that’s a time to be creative and use our imaginations,” said Gleason. “You have to problem solve and figure things out constantly.”

Such skills may help kids in the classroom, said Gleason.

“The same part of the brain that allows kids to learn strategies and decision-making in the brain is the same part of the brain you use to learn math, language and science,” he said.

4. The parental bonding benefits

While it’s very easy to come up with a list of the benefits of sports for kids, David Jacobson, a spokesman for the Positive Coaching Alliance says parents, too, reap the benefits.

Sports, he said, forces parents to focus on their kids. It sends another message as well: That the child is a top priority.

“It’s something to talk about,” he said. “Something to build a relationship out of or around.”

5. The character benefits

Sure, you can learn to pitch and kick, but those involved in child sports say young athletes can learn a lot about teamwork, good sportsmanship and the value of a positive attitude.

Sports are the greatest tool we have in today’s society to help children develop positive character traits and life values,” said John Engh, chief operating officer of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

He says that sports can help form children’s attitudes, mold their values and define their character.

“They teach the importance of teamwork, playing by the rules, handling winning with class and losing with dignity, good sportsmanship, putting your best effort forth every time, and learning to persevere in times of adversity, among others,” he said. “Those are all characteristics we want our own children to develop and carry with them the rest of their lives.”

6. The value of a positive mentor and role model

As parents, we’re invested in our children, but the value of having other adults supporting your child is incalculable, said Gleason.

That’s important for coaches to remember. A good coach will talk about sportsmanship, the importance of playing a role on a team and stress trying hard and having fun.

“Whether we like it or not, as coaches we leave an indelible mark on the kids that we coach,” he said. “So we have to make a conscious decision to make a positive one.”

7. Learning discipline

The saying “practice makes perfect” applies here, say those involved with youth sports. Playing sports, they say, can teach discipline in a way a parent’s punishment cannot.

Sports, said Jacobson offer a good first lesson that repetition – be it by shooting balls at a hoop or playing catch – is often the best way to learn a skill.

8. The value of being on a team

Gleason of the International Youth Conditioning Association said sports can teach kids the value of “big team, little me.”

“I think you’re never too young to learn that life isn’t all about you,” he said. “Life is about being part of something bigger than yourself; that you contribute to that.”

9. The value of belonging

Belonging, said Gleason, is “a primitive need,” one many people need to feel as part of their happiness.

The understanding that people need to feel like they belong, he said, is powerful as well.

“If you’re managing a corporation at some point, if you can create an environment of belonging for employees, they’re going to last longer,” he said. “And they’re going to work harder.”

10. It’s fun!

Beyond all of the lessons, sports are a good time. And what’s the point of being a kid if you can’t have fun?

“There’s no time, no space, they’re just out there and joy’s the only word you can come up with,” said Gleason. “That’s really why we play.”