As a child I never had the chance to be involved in sports until I was in high school. Although I wish I would have started playing sports at an earlier age, I know those four short years really helped me become the successful adult I am today. As a parent, I wanted to make sure my children had a chance to try different sports while they were young. So, when my daughter was six years old we signed her up for AYSO soccer . My husband and I knew nothing about soccer so we learned with her. Now, six years later we realize that putting our kids in youth sports was one of the best parenting decision we ever made. Our kids have tried soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, football, and swimming. I have two very responsible, self-confident, and respectful children and I know it is because they are both actively involved in youth sports.
Here are 10 reasons why you should consider having your children in youth sports.
Live a healthy lifestyle.
In youth sports your children are moving and exercising all their muscles four to five hours a week at least. This allows them to burn calories properly and it encourages them to drink more water. Before youth sports my children didn't really like to drink water. Now they consume gallons of it each week before, during, and after physical activity. They are used to being physically active and this lifestyle will likely carry over into adulthood.
Learn to work well in groups.Sports like soccer, basketball, and football require everyone to work as a team in order to achieve a common goal. My children use those skills as well in school and have always worked well in group settings. I know this skill and others they are learning will help them be successful in the workforce when they get older.
Build solid relationships.
We have become great friends with other families involved in youth sports and our children do a lot of other non-sport related activities together. I know those families well and I know that I can trust them with my child. Recently, one of the soccer dads passed away and the entire soccer community was there for that family and created a college fund for his daughters.That happened because of the strong bonds we have all formed over the years having our children in sports together. I know if something ever happens to me those other parents will be there to be a good role model and support network for my children.
Learn to respect others.
Our children have learned to respect the players on opposing teams as well as the adult referees, coaches, and parents at every game. Although they often don't agree with all the calls referees make or things other teams do, they have learned to still show respect to everyone. My children have even earned awards in school for demonstrating respect on a daily basis.
Manage time well.
Every day my kids come home from school and have a routine of eating a snack, getting their homework done, and doing their chores before we have to leave for sports practice. When we have a day without sports they still follow that routine and then go outside to stay active. I feel sports have made my kids more responsible with their time and have taught them use it wisely.
Relieve stress in a positive way.
Whether kids have just a little stress here and there over a test or a lot of stress from something more serious, sports offer kids a way to relieve that stress in a positive way. I was a runner in high school and I still run as a way to relieve stress. I am glad my children have learned several different sports and have a many ways they can relieve stress as life gets harder.
Accept that life is not always fair. My children have learned through sports that life is not always fair. You have to work hard and earn your time on the field. You also learn that you can't win them all and when you do lose, it pushes you to work harder for the next game.
Solve problems and make decisions on your own.
Kids involved in sports have to solve problems and make decisions all the time. Isn't that a life skill that all adults need to have? I can't think of any other activity that gives you more practice with that skill than playing sports and being part of a team.
Understand personal strengths and weaknesses.No one is perfect and by trying out different sports kids can get a sense of things they are good at and things they really don't like. We have a rule that when our kids try a sport they must finish the season; after that they can decide if they will return or not. My son started soccer and didn't like all the running at first. After a few weeks he realized he was actually a decent runner. Later that year he ran a 2.1 mile benefit race at the age of eight and beat me!
Children who play sports get a boost of confidence every time they step onto the field or the court. My daughter once lost a basketball game to a really good team. One of the parents from the other team came over and told her how much they liked the one shot she made. She knew she played a good game, but that extra boost definitely didn't hurt. Kids need people other than their parents telling them they are doing a good job.
Remember, it's never too late to get your child involved in sports. I also recommend volunteering in some way for the youth sports group your child is in. Many organizations offer opportunities to coach, work the snack stand, or serve on the board of directors. Being involved in sports with your child makes the experience all the more rewarding for you and your child.