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Are Little League Sports Beneficial to Young Children?

by Nathan Fisher

Little League Baseball and associated youth sports leagues provide children the opportunity to take part in healthy competition, learn about teamwork, build friendships and engage in much-needed exercise. While the overwhelming majority of youth sports are led by adults who have the children’s best interests at heart, some pitfalls exist that can turn a positive experience into a misadventure.

Exercise

With the ever-increasing sedentary U.S. lifestyle, Little League sports provide children with a much-needed opportunity to reap the health benefits of regular exercise and fresh air. Leslie T. Lambert, chair of the Department of Education and Physical Education at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, states that children should engage in 30 to 60 minutes of exercise every day. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity is at epidemic portions, almost tripling in the 30 years from 1978 to 2008.

Social Skills

Organized sports allow children the opportunity to interact with other children of their own age, building friendships within peer groups they might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. Participation in Little League sports is beneficial to young children in teaching them sportsmanship, permitting them the opportunity to learn how to deal with defeat and success in a structured and supervised atmosphere. Organized youth sports allow your children to develop self-esteem and confidence while teaching the benefits of camaraderie as well as instilling in them the importance of teamwork.

Teamwork

Little League sports are valuable in introducing young children to the benefits of cooperation and working toward a common goal. Teaching children about the benefits of teamwork has far-reaching ramifications that will transcend the field of play. Being a member of a team will show your child that she doesn’t have to always be a superstar to help her team succeed. For example, in a game of baseball, even if your child does not get a hit, she can learn she is helping her team win by helping a base runner move to the next base and into a position to score a run, even if she makes an out herself.

Pitfalls

While the majority of children benefit from organized sports, the occasional overbearing coach or parent who places winning above all else can have detrimental effects on your child. To protect your child, watch out for coaches or parents of other players who berate children who don’t perform to the coach’s or parent’s standards. Boston sports psychologist Harvey Dulberg emphasizes that excess pressure can place undue strain on children, causing them both physical and psychology harm. Because Little League sports are meant to provide a positive atmosphere for your child, if you sense he is being hurt by the exposure to excessive criticism or strenuous practice or conditioning activities, it is your responsibility to remove him from the setting.

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