8 Lessons learned from participating in youth sports

By | October 7, 2015 | Motherhood & Family

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8 Lessons learned from participating in youth sports | The Momiverse | Article by Brigitte Cutshall

We each have our own reasons for participating in a sport or supporting our children in their endeavors. Many athletes are revered because we all know the commitment that is required to excel.

When my 17-year-old son decided he didn’t want to play travel hockey this year, we were surprised and disappointed – felt kind of let down actually. Why did I feel this way? Was I too attached to the outcome because of the money invested for the past 8 years? We can’t focus on those lost costs. He’s the one playing hockey, not my husband or me.

You want what’s best for your child. You take pride in their accomplishments. It’s a hard thing to do, but you have to let go at some point. We’re glad he spoke up.

Sports played an important role in my life. Sports really was a place for me to escape, something to occupy my time so I could avoid going home. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed it, but my parents were freshly divorced and my home life was up in the air. My coaches were the ones who pushed me to do better. To be honest, I resented it on occasion at the time; which is normal for a rebellious teenager. I’m still grateful for their positive influence.

I surveyed my two sons and a few of their friends about what they learned through their involvement in sports (all male, ages 17-20, played a variety of sports including baseball, track, cross country, hockey, lacrosse. Each commented that many coaches and parents take youth sports too seriously. It can be all encompassing as parents’ lives tend to revolve around practice and competition.

Sports provides kids with the opportunity for personal growth and development. Here are eight lessons learned or benefits gained by kids from participation in youth sports:

1.   Purpose

With so much social pressure, sports can help kids stay busy and out of trouble. Kids will have less free time after school when they have sports activities. Both physical activity and extracurricular activity also help to improve academic achievement.

2.   Healthy lifestyle

Involvement in sports can help kids develop a life-long love for exercise and healthy eating. Athletic training also helps kids understand how their bodies work, how to exercise properly, and how to prevent injuries.

3.   Natural high

Sports provide a safe place to feel good. The adrenaline rush athletes experience, especially during competition, provides a natural high.

4.   Friendships and camaraderie

Sports helps kids develop friendships and camaraderie that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

5.   Diversity

A team includes people from diverse backgrounds. Young athletes learn to work with others who are different. A diverse group of athletes fosters creativity and reduces stereotypes in relation to race, gender, culture, and disabilities.

6.   Leadership and respect

Sports helps young athletes learn how to follow instructions and receive guidance from coaches. In turn, athletes develop their leadership skills by offering instructions and guidance to other athletes. It also teaches kids how to deal with others when they have disagreements.

7.   Confidence

Participation in sports builds self-esteem. Competition is a way to discover your potential to do better, hold yourself to a higher standard, expect more of yourself, and perform under pressure. Developing the skills necessary for athletic performance takes dedication and hard work.

8.   Teamwork and trust

Team members learn how to rely on and work with others to accomplish a common goal. Teamwork also involves understanding each person’s role and being a team player.

The best sports experience for our youth should be about balance. Find programs that offer a blend of fun, learning, and competition that is the best fit for your child. Take an active interest. Be supportive. But most important, let your child explore sports in his or her own way.

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Brigitte Cutshall

Brigitte Cutshall is a media solutions consultant, a certified health coach, and a two-time breast cancer survivor living with a benign brain tumor. Brigitte obtained her health coach certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition based in New York. Brigitte is the author of Real Things: 6 Ways to Embrace Life. For more information visit BrigitteCutshall.com and RealThings.guru. Connect with her on Facebook.

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