Youth Team Sports: Winning Isn’t Everything

Photo: Soccer Teams Congratulating EachotherIn fact, winning is far down the list of what’s important about playing in a youth team sports environment. What matters to the kids is having fun; social time with their peers; improving their skills; keeping in shape – and, did we say having fun?

In fact, the average age for kids leaving sports is 13; because it’s not as fun as it used to be, and losing games is too disappointing. How can we change that? Maybe by reminding ourselves about what’s important to our children, and the priceless advantages they’ll be missing out on should they decide to withdraw.

Here are three fringe benefits from having your child participate in school-based sports:

Collaboration

Attending school 5 days every week is a game-changer (no pun intended), but joining a sports team is a whole different world. Extra hours, after-school commitment, clothes changes, being on time – there’s a lot to coordinate. And that’s just the beginning. Your child will be a part of a whole, and though they may stand out – they are not alone in their achievements; the support of their teammates is critical to their success.

The children will learn to listen to their coach and totally respect their authority; it’s essential to their safety, and to maintaining cohesiveness within the team. Developing working relationships with others –even those they may not like very much – will teach them how to build friendships. Empathy, encouragement, cooperation and just plain ‘getting along’ are all valuable life skills which can’t be understated.

Stress Relief

The last thing we want to do is induce worry and apprehension in our children, but let’s face it, their world includes some. The thing with youth team sports is that it keeps them physically active while boosting their endorphins. These ‘wellness’ neurotransmitters help to minimize discomfort while raising their level of contentment and relaxation.

Just as adults will go to a gym, or a swim, or take a camping trip – children also need a physical outlet to maintain a sense of peace and heighten their ability to focus on studies, chores, and family. Sports give our kids a reason to make exercise a habit, burn off calories and build up immunity; a healthy balance, which they need as much as we do.

Higher Grades

There’s a very detailed study accomplished by the U.S. Department of Health’s CDC in 2010, which carefully researched the association between school-based physical activity and academic performance. The results state that “Positive associations were found across measures of academic achievement, academic behavior, and cognitive skills and attitudes.”

While it’s common knowledge that league players must retain certain grade point averages in order to play – we might rethink this exclusion. Although the requirement is meant to give kids an incentive to focus on their grades as well as their physical skills – it may forever remove the opportunity from a child with minor learning disabilities (ADHD, ADD) who would benefit from the stress relieving components.  

Wheatland Athletic Association’s offers youth sports programs for various age levels; both recreational and competitive. It is our philosophy for children to have FUN, while they learn the sport they wish to play. For team leagues, there are competitive and travel programs available.

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