Football, baseball, basketball -- depending on where you live, there are probably plenty of team sports on which your child can participate. Whether the team is part of his school or a city league, your child will experience many benefits. Besides the physical benefits of participating in team sports, your child will also see academic and emotional benefits. Keep in mind, KidsHealth recommends waiting to participate in team sports until your child is at least 6 or 7 years old and has the appropriate skills and attention span.
Team sports provide many physical benefits for kids, including meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Participation in team sports reduces your child’s risk of childhood obesity, a growing issue in the United States. According to the CDC, more than one third of children were overweight or obese in 2010. Reducing your child’s risk of obesity also reduces his risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and bone and joint problems. If your daughter continues to participate in sports into her teen years, she is less likely to use certain illicit drugs, participate in sexual risk-taking behaviors and become pregnant than non-athletes, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Team sports also provide the benefit of a safer environment. The American Academy of Pediatrics points out that team sports allow for rules specifically designed to keep athletes healthy and safe, a fair process in choosing teams and matching up competitors, and enforcing rules. Team sports might also have rules in place to determine a child’s readiness to play, reducing the risk of injuries to younger athletes who might not be ready to participate.
Besides the physical benefits of participation in team sports, research shows that young athletes generally do better academically. In a report by the Health and Human Services Department of the CDC, participation in extracurricular physical activity showed either a positive association between participation and academics or neutral association, but not negative. If your child continues his sports participation into high school, the same report showed a relationship between sports participation and decreased high school dropout rates. According to the University of Missouri Health Care Children’s Hospital, academic success might be a result of the memorization, repetition and learning required in sports. Young athletes also learn determination and goal setting on the field which can transfer to the classroom.
Participating in team sports helps build self-confidence and results in higher self-esteem. Working together with a team, working hard and seeing practice pay off shows young athletes they can accomplish their goals. Your daughter will continue to see emotional benefits if she continues participation into her teen years.The Women’s Sports Foundation reports that sports participation enhances the physical and mental health of females, resulting in higher than average levels of self-esteem and less depression. The foundation also reports that girls who participate in sports are at a lower risk for eating problems in their teen years.
Team sports offer young athletes the benefit of learning to work on a team. Your child will likely make new friends and learn important life lessons. Education.com reports that participation in team sports helps children learn to focus on the entire team, not just themselves, as well as hones the important life skills of practice, patience and persistence.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Children Need?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Childhood Obesity Facts
- Education.com: The Benefits of Team Sports
- KidsHealth.org: Signing Kids Up for Sports
- Better Health Channel: Sport and Children
- Pediatrics: Organized Sports for Children and Preadolescents
- University of Missouri Health Care Children's Hospital: Benefits of Sports
- Women's Sports Foundation: Women's Sports Facts
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance
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