One of the best things my parents did for me when growing up is allowing me to try different activities and sports. And I did lots – ballet, karate, squash, golf, horse riding, swimming, hockey, roller skating, dance – just to name some. I may not be a professional in any of those, but I certainly gained a lot out of having that opportunity, and I would say it definitely helped build the foundation to my profession today.
Encouraging your children to engage in sports has the obvious health benefits that physical activity brings, but there are also other benefits that may not be as obvious.
Toughens You Up For The Real World
It’s a tough world out there and we need to prepare ourselves for it. There will be times when we are faced with challenges where we may not come out on top. This is life, and it is okay to lose some and win some, and what is important is the journey.
Sports is about the highs, the lows, the wins and the losses – just like life. So a kid who plays sports can quickly learn that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and in either situation they learn to be good sports about it. Of course it’s not always that simple, and we naturally do feel down about losing, but this exposure can make kids more resilient.
Sports is about bouncing back - picking yourself up, learning from mistakes and coming out stronger. The earlier kids learn this, the better.
A Sense of Adventure
Whether you’re like me and played many different sports, or you engage yourself in just one or two types of sports, it will result in your child having more confidence, as well as building physical strength.
Playing sports requires you to put yourself on display – whether it’s with your coach, your team mates, your opponent, or the spectators. This constant display will help to build confidence. I see that in my 4-year-old daughter. Sometimes she doesn’t feel like participating, especially when there’s a large crowd, and it’s because she’s still building up her confidence. A recent event took place earlier this year where she was to receive her first capoeira (Brazilian martial art) belt. I was a little anxious as I thought she was not ready yet and she would not want to participate due to the large crowd (50 kids and over 100 spectators). But she totally blew my husband and I away when she confidently got up when her name was called, did what she had to do and got her belt.
So my point about sports building confidence is that it will instill a sense of adventure in children as they will have the confidence as well as the physical ability to join in activities wherever they are, wherever they go. So the next time they see people playing beach volley bowl, or they want to try surfing or kayaking, or go on a cycling holiday – they will have no reservations to do so.
Strike That Balance
So you may wonder, the child who likes to be outside running around instead of indoors furiously studying, how does this result in academic improvements? You may not have a straight ‘A’ child, but the fact that you have allowed them to nurture their athleticism means that you have in fact enhanced their academic abilities.
Statistics show that kids who are involved in sports while in high school are more likely to experience academic success and graduate.
A study conducted by Amika Singh showed that:
- Participation in physical activity is positively related to academic performance in children.
- There is a strong belief that regular participation in physical activity is linked to enhancement of brain function and cognition, thereby positively influencing academic performance.
Another way sports can positively influence academic achievement is when kids are dedicated to a sport and they see how they improve through their hard work and efforts. They may then put the same amount of dedication into their studies.
Often in life we doubt ourselves – whether it’s a physical trait or the ability to do something. It’s not easy to avoid as we are constantly bombarded with images of so-called perfection and social media accounts that illustrate how amazing people’s lives are – that they make no mistakes and just seem to have it all.
Playing sports can help to take away your insecurities. You are surrounded by like-minded people who will support you, and even praise you. When you put your heart and soul into a sport, you progress on so many levels. You also don’t have time to think about what other people think or compare yourself to others. You learn that the only person you need to compare yourself with, is yourself, and that tomorrow you need to be a better you.
Self-doubt is not an easy one to combat, and will probably creep up here and there. Playing sports may not banish it completely, but it can certainly help kids to overcome it much quicker.