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April 5, 2015

The Emotional and Developmental Impact of Childhood Sports

Updated on 5/28/17


As parents we all know it’s important for children to be involved in a variety of activities from elementary school through high school. These activities build character and help them develop socialization skills. It’s also important for children to explore different activities, as these experiences can shape future career paths.  Sports can be one of those outlets that can have short and long term benefits in overall development.
Here are some of the advantages of early involvement in individual and team sports:



1. Self Esteem/Confidence
Participating in sports is a great way to build self esteem and confidence. You would be amazed at the impact of a small ribbon for achievement can do for a child’s confidence. Some adults don’t believe in the “participation” ribbon for everyone. I have mixed feelings about it. Although it’s important for kids to get something for participation and encouragement, it’s also important to understand that they can’t always get rewarded for average results.  

2. Encourages a Healthy Lifestyle
Time spent participating in sports means time away from the television and the cell phone.  Sports encourage movement and exercise which is critical in reducing childhood obesity. Many schools are reducing recess times so it’s important to find alternative opportunities to stay active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity levels have increased dramatically in the last 30 years. This increase in childhood obesity is largely due to a lack of physical activity and poor eating habits. Encouraging physical activities a young age can reduce the onset of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


3. Discipline
Sports instills discipline by providing structure and coaching. Being on time for practice, learning plays and following specific directions all help young people develop discipline and organization. Sports like dance, martial arts, cheerleading and gymnastics tend to have more focus on body control and tend to help with discipline.  Instilling discipline and organization at a young age increase the likelihood that they will be disciplined as adults.   Young people who develop good discipline usually turn out to be good college students and eventually good employees.


4. Socialization and Teamwork
Participation in sports is another way that kids can socialize and learn to work as a team.  They have an opportunity to make new friends and they learn the importance of being part of a team. Participating in team sports can also help develop leadership skills. Some sports such as dance and cheerleading are a cross between sports and arts. They often require the learning of a specific routine and require a great deal of choreography. They require repetition and teamwork to be successful. Learning teamwork skills at a young age can translate to the workplace as an adult.

5. Future Planning
Involvement in sports and other extracurricular activities can be helpful when planning for the future. Colleges and employers look at these activities when making decisions on what students will be the most successful in their university or at their place of business.  Sports provide an opportunity for young people to earn college scholarships. 

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