I don’t often write posts with a strong opinion. This is mostly because I have a firm “you do you” philosophy for most areas of life. However, there are some things that I feel strongly enough about that I think it’s worth just putting it out there! In general, I think youth sports are beneficial for most families. And I even think this about why kids should play sports after spending alllll evening driving children around from activity to activity.
This doesn’t mean that I’m a big fan of super competitive, all consuming sports commitments. But if that’s important to your child and your family, that can work too! In our family though, we mostly join recreational leagues like Upward or local city leagues. Usually, practice is once or twice a week, and one game a week. This is a great schedule for our family!
Of course, I also think that the arts is important, and my children take weekly music lessons. We also participate in theater and dance. But sports holds specific benefits that I’m happy to share with you.
1- Get some exercise through sports!
We homeschool three days a week. This has been called part-time homeschooling or hybrid homeschooling. If you want to know more about that, you can read about it here! Although my younger kids do have gym at school once a week, that’s obviously not enough physical exercise. And I’m not sure what’s going on in public schools these days, but I doubt most kids are getting physical exercise 5 days of the week.
So we can all agree that our children should get more physical exercise. And youth sports are a great way to do that! Whether it’s a team sport like soccer or an individual sport like swimming, participating in youth sports is a great way for kids to get physical activity. Although kids can run at home, and do other physical activities, they often don’t on any regular basis. With scheduled team or individual sports, regular exercise is a scheduled part of the week.
Playing youth sports is also a great way to make physical exercise a lifetime habit. When kids learn to play golf or tennis, they are learning a lifetime sport that can be played in so many different settings, for so long in life. It’s a gift unlike any other to give your children the chance to create lifetime healthy habits.
2- Playing sports teaches patience and perseverance.
Not all kids are athletic. Out of my 5 children, I have two (who will remain unnamed) who are not very athletically inclined. These two have many gifts, but they’re not natural athletes. However, this doesn’t mean that I have those children need play any sports. In fact, for those two, I work even harder to find something where they can excel!
Why kids should play sports? For even those without much athleticism, it teaches patience and perseverance! They complete drills, they go to practice, they sit on the bench, and they try their very hardest. Not all children will be amazing athletes, but they can still participate, and learn patience along the way.
What about those kids that are gifted athletes? Whether they are playing a team sport or an individual sport, there will always be boring drills or frustrating teammates. Sports provides ample opportunities for patience and perseverance!
3- Sports helps kids learn the importance of fairness and respect.
There are so many things on the field or the court that take place almost purely for respect. For example, at the end of most games, the two teams shake hands. There’s no good reason for this in terms of the game, other than to show respect to each other. This is such a great example of being a good loser, and a good winner.
Also, since all games require rules, when kids play sports, they learn the importance of fairness. Even in less competitive games, without any rules, there’s no actual game, it’s just play. I certainly believe in the power of free play, but playing sports also helps children learn the value of fairness and objectiveness. When else in life do you have the chance to shake the hand of someone who just beat you at a game? You learn that as a child when playing sports in a way that can’t be rivaled later in life.
4- Kids can make friends through sports.
All parents worry at some point about their children’s social life. Do they have enough friends? Are they too preoccupied with their friends? It’s something that’s just part of parenting life. And as is true with many things, when you’re homeschooling, you might worry even more about your children’s social life. So when they play sports, they at least have the opportunity to connect with other kids their own age.
When you’re part of a team, you learn teamwork and camaraderie in a way that’s difficult to do otherwise. When your whole team is working so hard for that championship, and someone scores the winning goal, that feeling of excitement is hard to beat! Even when you’re playing an individual sport like swimming or tennis, there’s usually an amazing sense of companionship. Sports allow children to make friends and build companionship in a unique way.
5- Building self-esteem is a great reason why kids should play sports.
Whether your child is the star of the team or sits the bench most of the time, playing sports is a great way to build self-esteem. Hear me out! There’s a certain sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from simply being part of something bigger than yourself. No matter what your skill level, you can participate in practice and in most recreational leagues. your child will get some play time. And when they do, parents and coaches will always find something to praise! The star athletes will have a chance to sink that three pointers. But the kid who sits the bench and goes into the game at the last minute will also have a chance to build their self esteem in a different way.
When I was a kid, I played soccer for maybe one or two years in Kindergarten and 1st grade. However, solely based on this small bit of experience, I feel like I played soccer. However, ridiculous this sounds, it just feels true. When you learn something as a child, you have a sense of knowing it that doesn’t happen any other time in life.
Give your child the gift of self-esteem, companionship, respect, patience, and physical fitness through sports!