Kids face many challenges during the formative years of high school and playing high school sports can make a huge difference in their lives. From academic stress and peer pressure, to finding themselves and claiming more of their independence and autonomy, the teenage years can be tough to navigate. Add technology to the mix and most of us look back and are very grateful to not have to relive the teen years. Sports, however, are a good thing. Studies show that playing sports has a positive effect on high school students and their development—and that’s probably no surprise to you. Sports provide physical, mental, and social benefits that pave the way for a successful future, and they also teach kids valuable life lessons that they’ll use for the rest of their lives. Here are six ways that high school sports sports do for kids—we’d love your thoughts on this topic as well:
Studies show that teens who play sports have stronger peer relationships and lower rates of depression. The teen years can be difficult and sports give kids a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves during the confusing high school years. The benefits are not a result of whether or not they win or lose or even tied to the teen’s individual performance, but instead come just from participating in the sport.
Working as a team teaches students how to cooperate with others in order to achieve a common goal. The development of this social intelligence is valuable in many areas later in life. Whether it be working with your significant other to raise a healthy child, or working in a business collaborating with co-workers, a strong sense of teamwork becomes a huge asset. Prospective employers tend to look more favorably on applicants who participated in team sports, for obvious reasons..
Perseverance and Determination
Longitudinal studies have consistently demonstrated that perseverance is just as crucial, if not more so, than intelligence in contributing to success in life. As we learn through sports, practice makes perfect, and so that tenet translates throughout our lives. If you want to become the best in your field or a sought-after job prospect, it won’t happen overnight. Determination is another attitude that is truly fundamental to a winning mindset. It teaches teens the importance of working toward a goal through adversity. Both perseverance and determination are honed playing sports and strengthened because team members depend on your performance. These mature attitudes help teens develop behavioral habits that stay with them throughout their lives.
Learning how to handle failure is another important life skill. Whether you learn to pick yourself up and see the result as a challenge, or you decide to give up, the way you deal with losing can have an impact on your life. There are important lessons to be learned when we don’t always win. Through losing, kids can learn how find and fix weaknesses and not repeat mistakes; all crucial skills in our adult life. Failures are inevitable, it’s merely how we deal with them that determines the success we have in the long run.
Another key aspect of coping is flexibility. Very often, both children and adults develop such rigid ideas about how life is supposed to go that they become attached to unrealistic standards. Things don’t always go exactly how we plan, so knowing how to adjust course when challenges inevitably arise in your personal or professional life is very important trait that can be reinforced through sports.
Character and Integrity
In youth, it’s not unusual to not be held accountable for your actions. Misbehaving can be dismissed as a difficult phase, or the fault of bad parenting, or even blamed on society. However, when a young person is engaged in sports activities and is representing a team, a school, or a community, they don’t have this luxury. Acting badly can result in letting down the coach and the team. As such, behaving with a strong sense of character and integrity is something that’s highly valued. This code of ethics can be strengthened from the choices teens make when they are part of a team. These traits are highly valued later in life and involvement in sports can teach kids lessons that will stand the test of time when it comes to integrity and character
Studies show teens who participate in team sports are less likely to get in trouble for drugs, smoking, or violent crimes. Additionally, sports teaches kids the basics of nutrition and exercise from an early age. The correlation between putting the right food in your body and performing well is strengthened through sports. It also shows kids the value of exercise with regard to their long-term physical and emotional health.
These aren’t ground-breaking observations or things that people immersed in athletics don’t already know. Coaches are well aware of the value that playing a high school sport delivers and the bonds created between teammates and their coaches can last a lifetime. Learning to be confident, work as a team, be physically and emotionally healthy, and developing psychological skills, such as coping and perseverance— these are the pillars of a well-rounded individual who is positioned for success. Ultimately, kids that play sports are shown to be happier than those who don’t, and this is also true of adults. The benefits of high school sports really do last a lifetime. What do you think? Is there a benefit to kids playing high school sports that we overlooked? Or one that you think stands out more than all the others? We’d love your thoughts on this.