Tuesday, April 24, 2018

At a glance

  • Team sports provide kids with important lessons on personal values.
  • Children who play team sports are less likely to feel isolated.
  • Team sports can encourage parents to become active with their kids.
  • Team sports help kids deal with winning and losing.
  • Team sports can help kids overcome shyness.

If you want your child to grow up to be a confident and well-adjusted adult, then team sports may well be the answer.

"When you play a team sport you learn that it doesn't just come down to the best player," says Ross Morrison, a sports expert with the Department of Education.

"It comes down to working as a team, accepting decisions and understanding that people have different abilities."

Learning about values

Playing a team sport provides kids with important lessons in personal values, Ross says. "Kids learn that things aren't going to go their way all the time, and that they need to respect their peers as well as referees and sports officials."

These experiences can influence them throughout their lives such as when it comes to working for a boss, or respecting the police or other authority figures.

Kids learn that things aren't going to go their way all the time, and that they need to respect their peers

Team sports can also be good for a child's mental health. Children who play team sports learn how to be more resilient when presented with a setback, and are less likely to feel isolated, Ross says.

"Society puts a lot of pressure on kids to be more academic," he says. 

"But there is evidence to suggest that physical activity might increase numeracy and literacy. It's like that adage, ‘a healthy body, a healthy mind'."

When your kids take part in team sports they develop:

  • friendship and camaraderie
  • cooperation and teamwork skills
  • leadership skills
  • appreciation of different abilities
  • respect for team mates/ opponents/officials
  • a sense of belonging/team membership
  • social interaction skills
  • physical skills
  • self-esteem and self-concept
  • team goal-setting skills
  • self-discipline, patience and persistence
  • resilience through sharing positive and negative experiences.

Getting active (together)

With so much research emphasizing the benefits of getting more exercise rather than being a couch potato, knowing their child is involved in team sports can put a parent's mind at ease.

"It's satisfying for parents to know that your kids are getting fit and healthy instead of just playing electronic games or watching television," says Ross.

"But as well as the social side of standing around with other parents and making friendships, there can be a spin off too," he says. 

"Sometimes parents look at their kids running around and think, ‘Maybe we can get together and do something like that, too'."    

Teams sports give kids the opportunity to:

  • be less selfish and to think of other people
  • deal with losing as well as winning. They learn that things are not going to go their way, or the team's way, all the time
  • overcome shyness by putting them into situations where they need to communicate with others
  • become more sociable in different environments. They must deal with different people, who may or may not be their friends.