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The benefits of getting involved in team sports

July 30, 2012

Summer is almost over and it’s already time to start thinking about the new school year! There seems to be many decisions parents are faced with as their child heads back to school- which classroom will he/she be in, what classes will my child be taking, what after-school activities will my child get involved in? While all these questions are important, there is one question that every parent should be asking their kids- “what sport do you want to play this year?”. Team sports can benefit your child in more ways than one: physically, socially, mentally, and behaviorally.

The Physical Benefits

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a study highlighting the benefits that team sports have on children’s physical health.  The study was used to compare weight status and the different forms of physical activity among teens. Researchers surveyed over 1,700 high school students and their parents, covering many areas associated with physical health including team sport participation, active commuting, physical education, recreational activity, screen time, diet quality, and demographics. What they found was that when compared with active commuting, such as walking or biking to school, participation in team sports had the strongest association to weight status. It was shown that participating in team sports could help decrease a child’s risk of being overweight or obese. As a result of this study, obesity prevention programs are encouraged to incorporate and increase team sport participation among all students.

What is the takeaway of this study for parents? Simple. Participating in team sports does your child’s body good. Encouraging your kids to get active will help them create healthy habits leading into adulthood. Encourage your child to shop around. Maybe they try one sport and don’t like it- that’s okay!  There is such a wide variety of team sports to choose from, making it easier for your child to find one that appeals to him/her.  Take advantage of the organized sports selection your child’s school has to offer to help extend participation beyond the classroom.

The Other Benefits

Getting your kids involved in a team sport can not only benefits them physically, but mentally, socially, and behaviorally as well. Participating in sports can be exhilarating for kids because it gives them a sense of community and can boost their confidence through the little successes found in sports, whether it be making the basket or hitting a home run, or even through the encouragement of teammates and coaches. Let’s take a further look at the other benefits of team sports:
  • Developing discipline- Team practice is all about goal setting: swimming a number of laps in the pool, hitting so many balls over the volleyball net, or increasing your running speed by a certain time. Setting goals and accomplishing them will help your child see that it takes hard work to accomplish the things they are working towards.
  • Social butterfly- Even if your child is not the chattiest in a group, participating in a team sport will help give them a sense of community and help them find a group of peers that have common interests, making it easier to relate to others.
  • Working with others- In the word “team” there is no “I”. The team must learn to work together in order to achieve their goals and be successful. Participating in a team sport will help your child develop the skills needed to work with others- on and off the field.
  • Dealing with disappointment- In sports, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Expecting to win every single time would be largely unrealistic, just as it would be in life too. Learning to deal with the ups and downs of the game will help prepare your child for the ups and downs they will face as they navigate through life.
  • Increased family time- Your child’s sports practices can be a great way to squeeze in more family bonding time!  Whether it be going outside to shoot some hoops or heading down to the soccer field to kick some balls around, it can be a win-win for you and your child.
It doesn’t matter if your child is just starting out, or a sports pro- every child can benefit from participating in a team sport. Make it fun by letting your kids choose which sport they want to try, instead of picking the one you think fits them best. Getting your kids involved in a team sport at a young age will help them see the value of being a part of a team and encourage healthy habits as they grow older. But at the end of the day, if your child is absolutely hating the sport they are in, there are other ways to stay active and connect with others. So who’s ready to put on their gloves, lace up their sneakers, or grab a racquet at the start of the new school year?