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Youth Sports and Acdemics

The Ball is in Your Court: The Benefits of Team Sports

With the start of the school year, you may be wondering if your child should participate in an after-school activity, such as music or sports. If you are concerned about extra-curricular activities taking away study time, you might want to consider some of the benefits of team sports that can improve your child’s performance at school. In fact, youth sports and academics work well together to provide many children skills that can stick with them for a lifetime.

Putting the Fun in Fundamentals

When children join a sports team, they learn the basics rules of the game as well as how to work as a team. They also learn the concepts of good sportsmanship, fair play, and respect for authority for both the coaches and the game officials. Some hard lessons can also come out of a team sport setting. The art of losing can lead to an appreciation of hard work and endurance as the children work together to reach a common goal. They may persevere and be victorious, or they may still lose, and that’s okay, because life is a series of ups and downs.

Students also have the opportunity to move their bodies, release excess energy, and increase blood flow and oxygen to all of their organs. Students can increase their concentration and improve memory through team activities that can carry over to their school work. Regular exercise can even help prevent anxiety and depression, which is a tremendous issue for older students who feel constant stress from school. Who knew that youth sports could make both body and mind healthier?

Delving Deeper

Other benefits of team sports can be seen through the socialization aspect of working together. New children are welcomed and incorporated into the team, and everyone learns the importance of acceptance and inclusion. Focusing on the needs of the team teaches children to keep their egos in check. All that team work is character building, as children learn how to contribute, to work together, to set goals, and to cooperate.

But School Comes First

Students, especially in high school and college, should be able to strike a balance between youth sports and academics. Maintaining a regular schedule helps students strengthen organizational and time management skills because they must complete homework and study as well as practice with their team.  Children who are able to prioritize these tasks and activities by importance and due dates are mastering a life skill that some adults still find a struggle. It may be a challenge now, but by the time they enter college or start work, they will better understand how to use their time wisely. They also learn to honor commitments as they gain confidence in a group setting which can carry over to individual activities.

As a parent, you can help them by encouraging your children to find a few activities they can stick with and build on instead of trying to do too much. Part of it may be understanding expectations as well as self-advocating if they find themselves feeling overwhelmed. You can be there for them as a touchstone to provide support when needed.

Go for the Gold

What if your child doesn’t isn’t a natural athlete? Any regular consistent group activity can provide similar benefits of team sports. Being in the band, part of a speech and debate club, or in a dance school may all strengthen some if not all of the same skills.

With time, hopefully your child can learn to handle the responsibilities that are a part of team sports and academics. As they progress, they may become better at critical thinking and problem-solving, on and off the field. If you have looked at a job description or college application lately, then you know most of the skills gained from participating in team sports are valued in learning institutions and career paths. These are not just athletic abilities; children are gaining necessary life skills that are appreciated in every aspect of adulthood.