Movement is essential to life. It not only increases blood flow and physical strength, but also decreases stress, improves our mood and helps us sleep better.
While these ideas have been widely understood for years, getting our kids moving seems to be a modern challenge. Organized sports offer a great solution—they keep kids active, teach them new skills and challenge them to do their best. Sports also add a layer of social development, helping kids learn to communicate, succeed with grace and lose with their heads held high.
If you’ve been thinking about a summer sports camp for your kids, that’s a great idea! We’ve outlined nine reason on why sports are good for kids:
Benefit #1: Muscle development
Sports are good for helping kids with their physical development. As your kids grow, their muscles will naturally develop. Regular activity is important for development as your children build muscle memory and overall strength. Stronger muscles, in turn, help to protect ligaments and other soft tissue from injury. And as muscles gain strength, they give your child more confidence to try new activities.
Benefit #2: Physical coordination
Another reason why sports are good for kids is because it improves brain coordination. The act of hitting a ball, catching or making a pass may seem relatively basic, but they are learned skills, based on hand-eye coordination. The cerebellum, at the back of our brains, controls balance, movement and coordination.
As kids develop coordination through sport and play, they develop this part of their brains and practise moving their muscles together. Over time, coordination becomes a feeling, rather than an effort.
Benefit #3: Good self-esteem
As children take part in sports, they naturally gain confidence. The process of listening to a coach, practising a new skill and applying it in a game situation allows kids to trust themselves and their ability to learn. Learning a sport can feel like one accomplishment after another.
Benefit #4: Positive social skills
Almost all sport categories help to build social skills. As kids learn a new sport, they practise communication, listening skills and cooperation with others. Sports are great for a child’s social development. The kids learn to understand their role in a game or on a team and how best to work with their peers.
Benefit #5: Teamwork
Sports are good for encouraging kids about teamwork. Some of the greatest workplace and life lessons can come from a field of play. By participating in sports, kids learn that they can’t always get the position they want; their coach may need them to play a different role.
Similarly, sometimes they have to sacrifice their own needs for others. The team-based approach to many sports teaches kids to listen to their coach and peers, understand the rules and play fairly.
Benefit #6: Learning how to lose
One of the greatest gifts of sport is the lifelong practice of resilience. When your child learns a new sport, he/she is bound to make mistakes, get things wrong and feel frustrated; his or her team is bound to experience defeat and disappointment. But as they stick to it, learn from others and try again, they will build a lifelong faith in their own resilience.
Benefit #7: Commitment
Let’s face it—taking part in any sport requires discipline. Whether your child has early morning, after-school or weekend practices, regular games or weekend tournaments, sport takes commitment. Discipline gives kids an understanding of what it means to show up, work hard and follow a routine.
Benefit #8: Close bonds
Whether your child takes part in speed skating, cross country, swimming, soccer or baseball, they will more than likely meet regularly with a group or team to train. Even if they compete on their own, they will have a sense of belonging to group.
This team bond not only bumps up the level of fun in any sport, but also gives kids a shared sense of accomplishment and the chance to grow socially.
Benefit #9: Transferable Skills
One of the greatest benefits of signing your child up for a sport—any sport—is that skills easily transfer, should they want to change sports. The sense of space learned by playing soccer, for example, where kids learn how to move into empty space when they don’t have the ball, is easily applied to sports such as hockey, basketball or ultimate frisbee. If you are considering a new sport for your child, ask they what they would like to try and find an age-appropriate game or competition to go and watch.
If you’ve been wondering why sports are good for kids, it might best be summarized as the chance for them to have fun while building strength, social skills and resilience. If you or your child are unsure which sport to try, consider a sports camp, where they can try several new sports without signing up for an entire year. When it comes to kids and sports, it is important to play with them; encourage their gains and always have fun.