The stereotype of the cutthroat, pushy Little League coach is all too familiar to most people. Why, some parents ask, should I subject my child to competitive team sports if that’s how it goes?
For one thing, the news. Today’s generation of children is fighting the worst obesity epidemic in history. Giving kids an excuse to exercise is reason enough to consider team sports. But calories aside, team sports have other benefits to kids—social, emotional and physical ones.
Here are some things that team sports teach that go well beyond scoring, batting, shooting and winning.
Any parent knows that a child can be extremely egocentric. But that “my way or the highway” attitude will have to stay in check on a team sport. When a kid sees that everyone gets to play, they hopefully start to think about the group as a whole, and not just themselves. Even better, they learn to be happy for other player’s successes because they see how it benefits the team.
A dedicated, thoughtful and skilled coach can have an amazing impact on children. In fact, sometimes your child will respond better to an objective coach than he will to his own parent. When kids have early, positive experiences with coaches, they continue to seek out and learn from mentors who can help them with school, jobs and other interests.
The Three P's
Just as they must practice spelling, math and any other skill, kids need to learn that being part of a sports team requires the three P's … practice, patience and persistence. Whether it’s showing up to practice when you’d rather be home with Legos, waiting your turn on the sidelines, or doing the same drill over and over again, the three P's of team sports translate into important life lessons.
Another Reason for Family Time
Playing catch in the yard, heading down to the local soccer field for some drills … these types of outings with your kids can mean a great deal in our busy parenting culture. While the official reason may be practicing for the team, an even greater benefit is the time you get to spend together. Sometimes, in between dribbling and lay-ups, an important truth is revealed or an opportunity presents itself to teach a value.
Did we also mention that by practicing drills with your child and running up and down the sidelines to cheer them on, you might get into better shape, too? Score one for the family team!