So often in sports we hear parents say, we just want our child to give 100% — but what does this mean, really? If a man with a shovel digs his hardest from sunup to sundown and his neighbor does the same with a tractor, which one is giving 100%? Giving 100% isn’t about just working hard, but working smart. Developing these skills at a young age doesn’t just help your child when they are young, but it teaches them how to deal with situations for the rest of their life. It teaches them to become part of their communities when they outgrow being part of their childhood teams.
What parent doesn’t want the best for their child? What we give our children today, will be our gift to them in the future.
Here are some of the top life skills that sports teach children:
Knowledge & Understanding
Confronting their coach or teammate about a problem that is impacting the team; standing up to a bullying teammate; understanding themselves and their beliefs – all of these are skills that children learn in sports today. They are also skills that extend well beyond the field. These skills are ones the that they learn today and will take with them into the future.
The desire to improve is one of the most positive traits of sports competition. When we grow up, we are constantly in a competitive environment, whether it be getting a promotion or finding your future husband/wife. The desire to work hard to achieve our goals as part of a team is a healthy competitive skill that our children will use for the rest of their lives.
The decision-making process we learn early in sports allows us to make better decisions as adults, ones that are more community oriented, instead of self-centered. This kind of decision-making helps our children become good citizens of the world. Encouraging them to develop their mental muscles and their own spirit will ultimately help them achieve their goals.
Desire to Improve
It is natural to want it before you have it, to not see the small increments of improvement that come through hard-work. Encouraging a child to be a tiny bit better than they were before slowly accumulates into a large improvement, teaching them that any challenge is within their reach in the long-term and with hard-work.
How to be Flexible
Team sports teach children how to be flexible. They must interpret information and when there is behavior they don’t like, the learn to say no. They learn to express their needs, feelings and ideas. They learn to be flexible, even when they disagree with someone – including how to express anger and ask for help when they need it, all the while in a safe and supportive team environment. No one breezes into a perfect life without effort and flexibility, despite how it might look to others.
Being part of a team teaches kids to be assertive. This confidence helps them to become aware that they are unique individuals with each of them their own special gifts. Learning good character and self-respect is the foundation of the self-confidence learned in team sports. Sports help our children learn to expect respect.
In a team everyone has an opinion, but the process is democratic. Teammates don’t always agree, but they listen to each other. This teaches our children to speak up for themselves and find their voice for life.
Sports give our children the mentality to explore, to not be afraid of what lies around the next corner — to dream big and then dream bigger.
Enjoy the Whole Moment
Enjoying each carefree leap, jump and play is part of the sports experience. In all its glory and guts, skinned-knees, tears, elation and sweat, sports teach us to pay attention and enjoy the whole moment.