Every once in a while, it is important that kids put down the video games and engaging in a competitive sport of some kind is a good alternative. Not only are sports great for encouraging physical activity and strength, but being involved in organized games is also good for the mind.
Playing sports can help kids make new friends, boost their self-esteem, encourage them to develop critical thinking skills, improve their self-discipline, and teach them how to work towards a goal, both on individual progress and within a team.
Not every kid, however, is cut out to be the next Kawhi Leonard or Wayne Gretzky. Regardless of their abilities, there’s plenty any child can learn from participating in a sport, whether he or she is good at it or not.
Perhaps the most important thing a child can learn from playing soccer is teamwork. Soccer is a sport that requires the entire team, from those on the field to the goalie and even players on the sidelines, work together. It requires positive enforcement, trust in your teammates, and the ability to sometimes pass the ball and let someone else shine.
While games can sometimes get aggressive, it also helps kids build up their ability to get up and shake it off, so to speak. It’s a great sport for promoting camaraderie. Kids can also learn more about their parents' confidence in them, based on how mom and dad react from the sidelines, and to a big win or loss. A good coach can also be an important role model outside of the family that provides additional encouragement and advice.
While baseball can sometimes be a slow and solitary sport, particularly if you’re playing a position way out in the left field, it’s another team-based sport where players must work together to achieve goals. Kids can learn things like hand-eye coordination, how to catch a ball, and listen to a coach. Kids can develop their speed and agility, and celebrate big wins, both as a team and individually.
Because of the sometimes slow-moving nature of the game, kids learn patience, and how to improve their focus and attention. The lengthy innings can also teach kids never to give up – just because you’re down in the seventh, it’s easy to turn things around if you put your mind to it, and try your best. There’s no better feeling, after all, then catching the game-winning fly ball or hitting a home run for the first time.
An intense sport, aside from learning how to skate, kids can learn about that all-important teamwork as well, trust in fellow players, and understanding the mechanics of a game that requires that everyone works together to either score a goal or stop one from getting into their team’s net. With an often grueling schedule of practice, games, and travel; kids learn about responsibility, dedication, not letting down their teammates, and working hard at something in order to improve.
They can also learn how to both win and lose graciously and build up teammates when they aren’t performing at their best. Since parents are often involved in this sport, kids can also learn through positive reinforcement that mom and dad are proud of them as long as they put in the work and effort, and try their best.
Don’t let this sport fool you – it is indeed a sport and a pretty intense one that requires hours of practice, choreography, and hard work. Kids improve memorization skills, build up their flexibility and rhythm, and learn to work with others. They learn to cheer on others when they are given the spotlight and do to their best even if they’re only in the background.
Dance can also help kids get over stage fright, boosting their confidence as they perform in front of audiences for recitals. Kids also learn how to play to their personal strengths, understand the importance of determination, and focus on working harder to diminish their weaknesses.
6 Martial Arts
Whether it’s karate, taekwondo, or another martial art; kids learn self-discipline and respect, dutifully bowing as necessary and working on building their strength, agility, balance, body control, and form. They learn memorization of different forms, how to listen and reply with respect (through responses like “Yes, sir!”), control their movements (and emotions), and work continuously to perfect, improve, and grow both physically and mentally.
They also learn the important skill of being able to defend themselves in tough situations or properly resolve conflicts, ironically without resorting to physical violence unless absolutely necessary. Thus, they also learn restraint, when it is appropriate and not appropriate to fight, how to respect opponents, and respect oneself.
An intense sport, boxing requires that kids develop tremendous hand-eye coordination and learn to read the movements of others to respond in kind. Almost like a dance, boxing teaches kids about determination, hard work, and rhythm.
It doesn’t hurt that boxing can also help kids blow off some steam, banging pads for an hour instead of throwing a tantrum or getting frustrated about something. Kids also learn about speed and agility, trust in a partner, and how to defend themselves against attackers.
While there is some controversy of late surrounding this sport, with some claiming that dodgeball is a tool of “oppression” and calling it a form of legalized bullying, anyone who plays the sport knows that it’s a great way for kids to develop their athleticism, learn to move quickly, and have fun. While weak kids might feel targeted, this can also teach them to toughen up, stand their ground, and try harder. Obviously, every situation needs to be analyzed on its own.
The smaller or weaker child, in fact, might actually have an advantage because they make for a smaller target. Meanwhile, stronger kids can learn to play the game based on strategy, not just targeting the smaller or weaker kids. With the proper teaching and game rules, dodgeball can teach both strong and weak kids to harness their abilities (or inabilities) for good.
A sport that requires lots of training, tennis teaches children about coordination, respecting opponents, and working hard to improve. As it is mainly a one-to-one solo sport, all eyes are the children, which can help them feel more confident in themselves when they do well, or better able to accept defeat when they don’t (with the proper encouragement from coaches and parents).
Kids can also learn to respect authority and that practice makes perfect. As tennis is a non-contact sport, it’s also great for kids who shy away from sports like football or hockey for fear of getting hurt. Since coaching is usually one-on-one, kids also learn how to listen to advice, while developing patience and determination.
Aside from being a life skill, swimming should be on every parents’ list of sports a child is involved in, whether it’s competitively or not. Swimming teaches kids the important skill of being able to survive in open water, as well as proper breathing.
With competitive swimming, kids learn to always do their best, whether competing with a team or individually, and how to have a positive competitive spirit. Swimming can also help alleviate stress, which is great for kids who might be prone to anxiety or get easily worked up about things - swimming tends to have a sort of calming effect.
Aside from the obvious benefit of gaining tremendous flexibility, kids learn how to be confident in themselves, dedicated, trust their instincts, and work hard to perfect a move or conquer on an obstacle (sometimes literally).
A very team-centric sport, kids also learn things like healthy eating habits and to pick themselves up when they fall. They also learn important skills like balance and coordination. There’s an artistic and rhythmic element to gymnastics as well that helps kids develop grace and poise.