Team sports offer more than just physical benefits for kids who participate. It also helps them emotionally and mentally. And there are also social aspects of team sports that children will enjoy.
Here are just a few of the many benefits that your child can enjoy when they participate in a team sport:
A high-five, pat on the back, thumbs up, or even a nod of approval – these are simple gestures that can help build confidence in kids. You’ll often see these signals come from teammates and coaches when they want to recognize someone for a job well done. Kids also develop self-confidence the more they learn about themselves and their abilities.
Tell a child to exercise and they may up a fight. Exercise does, after all, sound like work. But tell a kid to go out and play with their friends, and you won’t get an argument. When kids play sports, they probably don’t even realize how much healthier they are becoming. They are building stamina and endurance. Their hearts are getting healthier thanks to all the aerobic activity, and they’re maintaining a healthy body weight which will help them ward off diseases associated with obesity.
Teaches Leadership Skills
While team sports require team effort, kids still learn about leadership. They learn about responsibility as they recognize the vital roles they play on their team. Leadership isn’t always about who is the best or on top; quiet leadership is about being accountable for your actions and being a role model for sportsmanship.
The ability to work well with others is a skill that youth athletes will learn playing sports and they will bring it with them throughout their entire lives. It will benefit them when they get older and prove to be beneficial when they have to work with others at their jobs.
Because of the social aspect of team sports, kids learn how to handle themselves better in social situations. They develop a sense of camaraderie and community, allowing them to maintain and nurture stronger relationships.
Team sports put them in many social situations where they need to express themselves. Because team sports promote teamwork and foster relationships, kids also become better at communicating. And because sports also instill self-esteem, children not only communicate better but they do so with confidence.
Sports don’t just teach kids the fundamentals of playing, but it also instills respect for authority and rules. At a very young age, children who play sports learn the consequences that come with not following the rules. They are taught to respect their coaches who guide them and the officials who work to ensure the games are fair. They also learn good sportsmanship and to treat their opponents respectfully, win or lose.
Youth athletes have been observed to be better students. Through sports, kids learn about time management and discipline. Teammates often support each other on and off the field, helping one another keep track of schedules and academic responsibilities.
There are so many amazing reasons why parents should sign their kids up for sports. And if your child has shown interest in becoming a student-athlete, then you should absolutely support them. Sports offer a slew of benefits that cover everything from physical to emotional to social.
One of the most wonderful aspects that young athletes enjoy when they join sports is the camaraderie created among the team. Camaraderie brings a sense of closeness that forms a strong bond between teammates. Ultimately, it is this friendship and loyalty that they have for one another that helps them work together towards a common goal.
As a coach, one of your primary goals should be to cultivate camaraderie within your team. The mutual trust and friendship that your young athletes develop while playing sports will give them memories to last a lifetime, allowing them to build stronger relationships in the future. Teamwork will also pave the way for team victories. Here are other reasons why camaraderie produces champions, both on and off the court:
Leadership in teams can take many forms; the team captain may not always be the leader. Because camaraderie is something teammates enjoy on and off the field, different leaders can emerge depending on the situation. One teammate might be better with their academics and can help the others stay on track with their studies. Another team member may deal with loss better and uplifts the team during times of defeat. Because camaraderie nurtures relationships, people become more self-aware, and their natural leadership skills arise.
Camaraderie instills mutual respect which allows each player to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their teammates. They understand the unique roles that they each play and how to complement one another when needed. They not only celebrate the wins together but also collectively work through the challenges.
Support and Trust
Teams can’t function without trust. A team full of strong players could easily go off and do their own thing, only thinking about their own desires to win. A team that enjoys camaraderie supports one another, understanding the unique strengths that each player possesses. They trust one another to let one do what they do best while the other should pull back. Teams who understand each other are better at team dynamics and the complexities of push and pull when it comes to winning championships.
When teammates have that special bond, they naturally communicate better. In some cases, they know each other so well that there’s very little verbal exchange involved. And teams who have a connection with one another are more likely to execute plays well.
Furthermore, teams who communicate well also resolve conflicts effectively. No matter how close a team is, issues will arise; however, a team that trusts each other will be more equipped to work through their problems together.
Ultimately, teams that don’t have this special bond rarely ever enjoy true success. They may win thanks to a handful of key star players. But without that bond, even “winners” don’t quite feel like champions when their team isn’t there for them to celebrate the achievement.
Practically all sports require athletes to have a certain amount of stamina and endurance. Sports like football, basketball, baseball, and soccer will demand that you run up and down a field or court. An athlete who gets winded in the first 10 minutes of the game will likely not have the ability to make it through the entire game.
Fortunately, strength, stamina, and endurance are all things that you can build. Over time, you will notice that you can play for longer and not feel fatigued early on.
If you have a 5- or 6-year-old child who is participating in competitive sports and you notice that they are getting tired easily, they may need to help them build their stamina and endurance. However, before anything, get them checked up for a sports physical by their pediatrician to ensure there aren’t other reasons why they get tired easily. Some kids may suffer from nutritional deficiencies, or there may be other factors at play.
Once your child’s doctor gives you the go signal, you can help them build endurance. Here are some ways that you can encourage your kid to increase their stamina and endurance without making it feel like extra practice or drills:
Because most sports involve a lot of running, a good place to start would be to get your kids into running. The best part is that you can join them. Go for runs around your neighborhood, and you may even want to bring the family dog along. Start slow. Build endurance by starting with a 15-minute run and work your way up to a 30-minute run. Make it fun by changing up the scenery with different trails. And you may want to finish the run with a race to the house.
Play Longer and Harder
There are dancing video games that only look like fun but in reality, can give you quite the workout. In fact, many adults are using these dancing games to lose weight and get fit. For you and your child, it’s a playful way to get active and build endurance. And because you’re following dance moves, it will also develop their coordination and agility.
Take them to parkour facilities or trampoline parks. These places are absolute fun but surprisingly, require you to have a lot of stamina and endurance. The more you play with your kids, the more you’re actually helping them improve their capacity to last in competition longer.
Circuit training should be reserved for older kids or teens who are keen on improving their athletic skills. Circuit training can be too “hardcore” for young children. This type of training will take your child from one exercise to the next with brief breaks in between each activity. Here are some exercises you can incorporate in their circuit training:
- Shuttle runs
- Let lifts
- Jumping over hurdles
- Jumping jacks
All these exercises will push your child to move harder in order to last longer. Start them slow and encourage them to level up when they’re ready. Older kids who are determined to improve their athleticism will have no problem with the dedication it takes to make it through circuit training.
When it comes to stamina and endurance, it’s always best to assess your child’s level of interest in the sport. Some might find the stamina and endurance training too intensive, and it might make them resent the sport. As the parent, it’s up to you to think of creative ways and activities that can help build up their ability to last longer and overcome fatigue.
Your role as the parent of a youth athlete is so much more than just driving them to practice, packing healthy snacks, and making sure they have all their gear.
You’ll want to guide, advise, and support them. And you’ll also want to understand how the mind of today’s athletes work. Here are our top 5 picks for the best books for parents of young athletes:
- Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills, and Inspire a Love of Sport by Jack Perconte
Raising an Athlete is written by a man who has been there as an athlete (major leagues), youth sports coach (28 years) and parent (3 athletes). He knows what you are going through and how to turn things around when the pressure on your child, or you, seems to be too much.
- The Pitcher’s Mom by Heather Choate Davis
Bottom-of-the-ninth dreams are the stuff that young boys are made of. But boys grow. Destiny arrives on the doorstep –or, more likely, fails to– and all the while mothers look on, impotent witnesses to the great unknown. Such is the turf of The Pitcher’s Mom, a novel about big dreams, cup shopping, bleacher barbs, sore arms, mothers and sons, wrestling destiny, and the sacrifices we make for love.
- Bring Your “A” Game: A Young Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness by Jennifer L. Etnier
Bring Your “A” Game introduces key strategies for mental training, such as goal setting, pre-performance routines, confidence building, and imagery. Each of the seventeen chapters focuses on a single mental skill and offers key points and exercises designed to reinforce the concepts. The book encourages athletes to incorporate these mental skills into their daily lives and practice sessions so that they become second nature during competition.
- Feeding the Young Athlete: Sports Nutrition Made Easy for Players, Parents, and Coaches by Cynthia Lair
In Feeding the Young Athlete: Sports Nutrition Made Easy for Players, Parents and Coaches, simple nutritional lessons are organized into 10 Essential Eating Guidelines and recipes for cooking healthy meals and snacks with whole grains and vegetables. These recipes and eating tips offer a gateway for young players, parents, and coaches to improve performance and establish lifelong eating habits.
- Just Let the Kids Play: How to Stop Other Adults from Ruining Your Child’s Fun and Success in Youth Sport by Bob Bigelow
Just Let the Kids Play is the first book to identify the youth sports systems as the cause of the problem and offers practical ways to rebuild them so they better serve the physical and emotional needs of children.
First-round NBA draft pick, part-time NBA scout and youth coach Bob Bigelow joins journalists Tom Moroney and Linda Hall to put youth sports under harsh review. They explain the controversial belief that elite traveling teams at young ages should be abolished and replaced with equal playing time, team parity and shortened seasons, among others. Focusing on soccer, basketball, baseball and hockey, they highlight ten programs nationwide where these principles are working and offer ways to integrate them into existing programs without sacrificing a child’s chances for success. Soccer moms and hockey dads will discover that it really is possible to sleep in on Saturdays without sacrificing their child’s future!
If coaching youth sports is new to you, it’s understandable for you to feel excited but nervous at the same time. You may feel that you still need direction to navigate what you suspect to be the complexities of coaching kids. Because while you may have background on the sport and may have even played it in your youth or as a hobby, knowing the sport is one thing but guiding people, particularly young athletes, how to play is a completely new challenge.
Many new coaches struggle with leading a team of young kids and find that this aspect of coaching is the most challenging. And some find it even harder to coach older kids like teens who may not always be the most cooperative. To find success as a coach, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the coaching standards, beliefs, and philosophies.
Whether you are coaching young kids or teens, there are things that you should remember when helping develop athletic skills and strong relationships with their teammates that will ultimately help them improve their chances of winning in both life and sports:
Communicate with Parents
When you’re coaching youth sports, you’re not just dealing with the kids, but their parents as well. Communicating expectations with parents should happen from one to avoid any misunderstanding with parents. It’s natural for parents to want to be constantly updated on their child’s progress. However, parents who are too involved can often get in the way of their kid progressing.
Start with the Fundamentals
As a coach, it is your job to ensure that your kids know the basics. If you’re coaching a team of youth athletes that have competed before, go over the fundamentals briefly before moving onto more technical skills that will help them develop. Mental and physical maturity varies depending on age, and it’s also up to you to approach them with appropriately based on their level of technical and emotional understanding.
Have Fun and Be Enthusiastic
Coaches who have a win-at-all-costs mentality can quickly suck the fun out of the sport for everyone. Kids will become too competitive, and parents will worry that the sports is no longer fun for their child.
The best way for young athletes to learn a sport, develop sportsmanship, and improve their athletic skill is by having fun while working hard.
If your practices are nothing more than repetitive drills, your athletes will perceive the sport as a chore and get no fun out of it.
Give the kids a reason to love the sport by being enthusiastic about developing their skills. Remember that sports competitions are referred to as “games” for a reason.
When you show your athletes that you are paying attention and care for their well-being, they’ll be able to approach you and tell you what they hope to achieve out playing sports. Take heed and use their feedback to make practices more productive.
As a coach, remember that your key responsibilities are to ensure the safety of your athletes by helping them develop skills that make them ready for competition. But overall, your job demands that you be the role model for good sportsmanship and camaraderie.