Of all of the things that experts say you can involve your child in, sports are consistently listed as a top activity to enrich your child and help them grow into well-adjusted adults. The benefits of sports for children are far too extensive to list here, but this article is a beginning.
High performance sports psychologist Michael Gervais asserts that sports offer children the opportunity for self-discovery through learning how to build skills and discern who they are in high-pressure situations. Sports involve spectators, and as such children learn how to handle themselves when people are watching and scrutinizing them. Children learn how to interact not only with peers but also with adults during sporting activities.
There are two kinds of sports children can participate in - team sports and individual sports. There are advantages to both kinds of sports for children. Jennifer Siebel Newsom says team sports are a powerful way for children to build self-esteem creating. Specifically, group sports teach kids about teamwork and leadership. Children who play team sports discover that they are not always the center of attention and that in order to find success as a team, they have to be malleable. Team sports teach responsibility, because children learn that other people depend upon them, says Owen McKibbin.
Individual sports teach children about focus and time management. They tend to be highly competitive, allowing kids to become self-reliant. Kids who pursue singular sports learn to work toward a goal and then showcase those skills. They learn what level of work and commitment it takes in order to reach a goal, an important real world skill.
All kinds of sports are a good for children. Intramural, non-competitive sports still teach kids about teamwork and responsibility. Training for elite sports instills another set of values and can be enriching not just for the child, but for the whole family says Natalie Hawkins, the mother of Olympic champion gymnast Gabrielle Douglas. Geoff Wells makes the argument that sports are important for kids who aren’t good at them. Learning how to interact with other people on various levels, how to deal with loss and success in healthy ways, and how to deal with people who are antagonistic toward you are such powerful lessons, that really every child should participate in sports in whatever capacity they are able and for as long as possible.