Posts Tagged ‘benefits of youth sports’
As a parent of an athlete I have seen first hand the benefits and positive effects of youth sports. The benefit of participating in sports, goes beyond the obvious physical and health benefits. Sports can help kids develop character, social skills, self discipline, confidence and even improve academic achievements. If kids are activaly involved in sports, they are less likely to develop delinquent behavior. As a community we should recognize the social and economic consequences for students that don’t have the opportunity to be involved in sports or other after school activities. Children and teens who are unsupervised after school are more likely to use alcohol, drugs and tobacco, engage in criminal and other high-risk behaviors.
When we think of athletes, many people have an image of the “dumb jock”, but we are beginning to learn that stereo type couldn’t be further from the truth. In-fact student athletes often do better in school and on standardized testing. Students that participate in sports also have a lower drop out rate.
It is believed that physical activity has a positive effect on learning. Studies show that sports and physical activity in general improve concentration, memory and a students classroom behavior. After engaging in structured physical activity, young children have improved mental focus, concentration and attitude toward school. Studies have show that aerobic activity increase blood flow to the brain improving memory. It is also suggested that aerobic exercise promotes brain cell growth and regeneration.
A survey of 75 Fortune 500 companies showed that 95% of corporate executives at or above a vice-president level had participated in high school sports.
Mood, Attitude and Character
Participating in sports reduces anxiety and depression and improves self-esteem. Sports promote social interaction, friendship, self discipline, leadership, teamwork, cooperation, trust, respect and improve coping skills. Participating in sports has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and improves self-esteem.
Aerobic activity releases endorphins, which relax us and reduce depression. In addition to increasing endorphins, exercise in general can raise levels of glucose, serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine which can help balance behavior.
My experience raising an athlete
We introduced our kids to sports at a young age with fun, unstructured play and family activities. My little guy isn’t old enough for organized sports yet, but my teenage son has been playing organized sports since he was five. We let him experiment with several sports, so he could learn what he excelled at and enjoyed the most. He has done karate, baseball, soccer, hockey, basketball, golf, track, skateboarding and football. We always let him choose what activities he wanted to do, but once he started, he had to finish the season. Some sports he liked more than others, and some he is admittingly better at than others.
One of the biggest things I noticed is how sports help social development. When my son was about nine, he invited both, kids from school and kids from his football team to his birthday party. I couldn’t help but notice that the kids that played sports, interacted with new people more easily. I am not referring only to the kids from his football team, but also his friends from school that played other sports. The athletes were more social and confidant, while the kids that didn’t play sports were timid about interacting with new kids. I could look around and see most of the kids playing together, while a few had segregated them self from the group and needed encouragement to participate.
A few years later my son switched schools twice in a year, to meet his academic needs. He began the school year at a public school. When I picked him up from school the first day, he told me he had friends at this school, that he already knew from sports teams he played with. A couple weeks later, he was switched to a private school. Before he started at the new private school, we were invited to a pool party, to meet some of the other boys in his grade. I was impressed with how quickly my son transitioned into the group. We were only there a few minutes, before he was playing football with the other boys. I honestly feel that playing sports has given him a social advantage, and now that he is in high school sports is an academic motivator. Anyone with a teenager will probably agree, they need all the motivation they can get. Lets not forget that teenagers are also exposed to things like drugs and alcohol, and although some athletes may participate in these things, a serious athlete is more likely to avoid them because they are conditioning their bodies to be competitive.