With kids today spending so much time hunched over tablets, Gameboys and computers, it can be a constant battle to ensure that they are getting enough physical activity. One thing that many parents do is to enroll their children in organized sports. Whether your child ends up playing varsity football like Mack Prioleau or simply develops a lifelong appreciation for an active lifestyle, there are many benefits that come from encouraging your kids to participate in sports. Here are just a few.
Cardiovascular and Muscle Strength
An obvious benefit that comes with being involved in sports is the impact on the overall health of your kids. A generation ago, kids would have been outside running around for hours every day. Now, they spend very little time engaged in active play, which makes the time spent play sports even more important. No matter what sport they enjoy, they will spend time developing their cardiovascular health and muscle strength as a result of running, jumping, hitting or swimming.
Coordination and Flexibility
While studies have shown that computer games can contribute to the development of fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination, there is no substitute for sports as a way to bring these skills into the real world. In addition to developing fine motor skills, sports also encourage the development of gross motor skills that can only come from moving your body through space. And no matter what sport your child enjoys, flexibility and mobility will benefit as well.
Discipline and perseverance
As children gain skills in their chosen sport, there will come a time when they want to continue to improve their abilities but they find that it no longer comes as easily or naturally as the basic skills did. This means that children learn that in order to improve, they must be prepared to put in the effort to practice. They will also learn that this comes with sacrifice – in order to practice, there will be times when the child will have to make a choice between practicing and another activity. They also learn that even though not everything may come easily, there are small improvements that they can observe and build on every day, thus teaching the value of perseverance and patience. The sense of accomplishment that they can enjoy as they achieve their goals will reinforce the value of hard work.
Whether your child plays a team sport or an individual sport, they will need to internalize the norms of good sportsmanship, which include values of fair play, the importance of following rules, of working with others, and of being both gracious winners and losers. The ritual of players shaking hands and saying “good game” after a competitive match underscores everything that is good about sportsmanship and models positive values that your child can take into adulthood.
These are just some of the many ways that your child can benefit from involvement in sports!