Benefits of Playing Youth Sports

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I have been involved in youth sports for just about 10 years now, and I have seen a lot of good, and a lot of bad during those 10 years. All parents who put their kids in a youth sport, whether it is football, drill, soccer, or any of the other abundance or sports are doing so to benefit their children obviously. Recently, however, I have seen a lot of things that do not seem to have the children in mind.

I know that all of us parents want our children to succeed in everything that they do, but lately I have seen way too many news reports from all over the country where there have been altercations from parents on the sidelines, or parents and coaches, or coaches and referees. All for a game that after it is over, you will see these kids from opposing teams off to the side, playing with each other having a great time. They couldn’t care less who won or lost    the game, because they are focused on playing with their new friends and just being kids.

Before I get all the comments below saying that we should teach the kids that winning is important, I should preface this by saying when I was younger I thought winning wasn’t just the most important thing, it was the only thing. I absolutely hated losing, and in some respects I still do. I am a very competitive person. But the first time after a pee wee football playoff game, where my son’s team had lost and their season was over, I began to change my view a little. Because there were definitely tears from most of the team, they understood what had happened. But after listening to the coaches, and finding their parents, and getting their cool trophy (more on that later), I heard multiple kids asking their parent if they could go play with their friends in the field near the bleachers.

Not too long after the other team joined in, and they had a full-blown game of Moss going on, where one of the older kids would throw the ball high in the air, and a group of boys would all jump up and try to catch it. No tears, no frowns, just a bunch of young boys laughing and having a good time. I was devastated, my son’s team had just lost their final game of the year, but that wasn’t important to them. And as I saw this time and time again, I began to realize it wasn’t all about winning and losing, it was about much, much more than that. Here are just a few of the benefits of playing youth sports.

Physical Activity

Obviously one of the most important benefits is that your children are being active. In a day and age where video games reign supreme, it’s important to get kids outside. What better way to do this then to sign them up for sports? Regardless of the sport, there will be plenty of physical activity.

Friendships

Depending on the sport, your child may be on a team with kids in the neighborhood, the entire city, or an even larger area. But no matter where the pool of players comes from, even if they go to the same school, playing sports together will bring them closer together. Because do not get me wrong, playing sports can be hard. There’s a lot of sweat and tears, and sharing those with your teammates creates a bond that is tough to break. Plus the kids from around the league that they will meet, your child will create lots of lasting friendships from their team and league.

For those that struggle in social situations, being part of a team will help as well. They may be shy at first, but after a while of being around the same kids they will start to open up around their teammates. Before long there will be sleepovers and birthday parties, because the friendships will not end at the field/court.

Leadership Skills

Not every kid is a natural born leader, but I guarantee after a few seasons with the same organization his/her leadership skills will grow. Along with this comes just an overall since of confidence and self-esteem that will follow them for their entire life. This will not happen overnight, typically the first season in any sport a lot of kids will sit back and feel out this new situation. The next year, however, they will be the veterans on the team helping the new kids!

Ability to be Coached

This may not sound like a big deal, but being able to be coached will be extremely important as they move through their lives. Being taught young to listen to your coaches will help when listening to their bosses as adults. It will also help them in school, as they will listen to their teachers as well.

The coaches themselves are very important as well. Almost every one of them is donating their time, and sometimes money to be out there with your kids. And it is normally a thankless job, having to deal with a bunch young children, their parents, the referees, sometimes missing out on time with their own children. While every once in a while you will come across a coach that does not seem to care, in my experience this is the exception to the rule. If your child has a coach that genuinely cares for your kid (not to be confused with giving them playing time, that’s honestly irrelevant at younger ages), make sure you let them know how much you appreciate them. My son is now a teenager, and probably couldn’t tell you how their team did in any particular season, but still knows his coaches from when he first started.

Winning and Losing

Yes, I said that youth sports were about much more than winning and losing, and I stand by that. But it is a part of sports, and in some ways life in general. Working with their teammates towards a common goal can be one of the richest experiences in their young lives. The exhilarating experience of winning a championship is absolutely amazing. On the other hand losing can be a devastating experience. No matter what, your children will learn from it. Either they get the taste of success and want to have that feeling of winning again, or they are defeated and learn to work harder the next time.

A quick note on participation trophies. I know the common thought these days is that we have raised a generation of entitled brats because they have all gotten participation trophies. I disagree however. No, I am not a proponent of giving a high school kid a participation trophy for finishing last place in their league. But giving a 7-year old a cool little trophy that they can put up on their dresser and look at and smile? There are a lot of steps between that and the “entitled” generation we have. We are talking about an age group where Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy are still a big part of their lives. Let them be kids, because as adults we know that after you grow up there is no going back!

Starts Them on a Good Path

I fully believe that all kids are inherently good, but we all know that sometimes they end up going down the wrong path that leads to drugs, alcohol and criminal activity. Sports will keep them busy and give them something to do to keep them away from those paths. I realize a 7-year old probably is not doing drugs, but if they start playing a sport that they really like, they will continue to play it into their teen years, and will not want to risk losing their sport by following these dangerous paths. You know what they say about idle hands!

Have Fun

At the end of the day, they are kids. They will have plenty of years to be adults, working 40+ hours a week to take care of their own family. Right now, let them be kids. Yes, make sure they are listening and learning. But let them have fun. Let them act goofy. Is your kid the kid watching butterflies in the outfield? So what? Is your (or your kids) life going to change drastically because of the outcome of a little league baseball game? Probably not! Let’s change the narrative about what is important during these youth years.

Not every kid is going to go professional in their respective sports. In fact, I know you may not want to hear it, but percentage wise hardly any of these kids are going to make it to the pros. And that is ok. They can still work hard and have all the benefits of playing youth sports. The percentage of kids making it to college on a scholarship is much higher, so sports can definitely have a huge impact on their lives. But colleges are not recruiting many youth fields, unless you happen to be a kid of a professional athlete. So enjoy this time in their lives, and let them enjoy it too. Because trust me, once they are grown, you will miss these times.

In Conclusion

Like I said before, I grew up thinking winning was all that mattered. As you can see however, there is much more to youth sports than just who won and who lost. Yes, it is important to teach them that there is a winner and a loser. But if we as parents do this correctly, everybody will win, because we will be raising a generation of leaders not a generation of entitlement. Just today at my kids football game, our team lent the other team 2 players or they would not have been able to play. I have heard about this happening a lot, and I am sure it is not just in my area of the world. That’s what this should all be about. The idea of sportsmanship is not dead, we just don’t hear about it as much as we do about the horrible things that happen at our kids games. The media is funny that way.

So the next time you are at your kids games, and the coach calls a bad play, or a kid makes a mistake, or the referee misses a call that you and everybody else in the stands saw, take a breath. Don’t yell at the coach or the referee. When your kid looks over to you (and they will, because you are the most important thing to them at that game!) just smile and wave, and let them know that you are there. At the end of the day, that is what is important, your bond with you child and the relationships he or she is creating being on a team.

I know there will be a lot of people that do not agree, and a lot that do. Either way, please leave a comment at the bottom, and let’s have a good discussion. Also, share this with your friends that have kids on the youth level. Maybe they will enjoy this post as well. Thank you for taking the time to read this, have a great weekend!

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47 thoughts on “Benefits of Playing Youth Sports”

  1. Rodarrick says:

    It usually baffles me when I her incidents of parents getting violent or physically involved in their children games or sports. They have forgotten the main reason of sport as being a competitive way of fostering unity among people. These that you have shared here only serves as the re-awakening to everyone especially, parents that must re-orient theirselves and the kids too. Very good one and worth sharing

    1. Travis says:

      Completely agree, it definitely makes me sad when I hear those reports. I hope that we can work towards remembering what its all about, the kids.

  2. bella says:

    Sport surpasses the winning and losing and you have just expatiated on the topic in a way that I like a lot. My son was very shy at first in his early ages but over the years that he played sport with the same team for longer, he has become the team captain and has grown even beyond what I was hoping for. Sport helps most kids to get through their puberty age and it shapes them better. Thumbs up to you for sharing this.

    1. Travis says:

      So happy to hear about your son growing because of sports, I have heard and seen countless similar stories. So many benefits from playing sports, as long as we aren’t turning the experience negative with all of the off the field antics.

  3. DreaJay says:

    It’s a very good thing to enroll out kids in any youth sports but mind you, it must be one of their choice not a sport you force them to do. My girls run, they are very passionate about it and has been a thing of joy for me to see my kids participate in activities like that. It’s true that it is very beneficial to our kids in a lot of ways which you’ve mentioned in this article. The ability to follow instructions and be coached without stress is one thing most kids don’t have nowadays, sport teaches this in a very good way. This is something every parent should read and learn from. Thanks

    1. Travis says:

      I completely agree! The worst thing a parent could do is force their kids to play something that they do not like. But if have found most kids enjoy at least some sort of sport, but there are of course some that do not. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

  4. Wildecoll says:

    Thanks for sharing this informative and educative art, sports generally is a very important thing to our livelihood and it’s very essential to have activities like this in our day to day life because it adds a lot over value to us, morally, academically, socially, emotionally, mentally and physically. This article has done justice to everything I have above and it is very good for every parent to know of it.

    1. Travis says:

      I agree, very important aspects all around! I appreciate the comments!

  5. Ladessa says:

    Love all of what you said

  6. lindsey radde says:

    Yes! Sports have huge and lasting benefit in children’s lives. I agree with everything you’ve said here.

    However, my kids never really had any interest in sports. Robyn did choir stuff and then band. Elby does theatre, violin, and art. Charley did cooking and theatre. I think being involved in extra-curricular activities is the real key, and it can come in different shapes. I’m sure all the spelling bee kids play together after the competition, just like some of the parents are completely obsessed and out of line!

    On a slightly different but related note, I think Charley would have liked baseball and could have been a successful player, but I decided when he was young that having games that start at 8pm on a school night was unacceptable. In my mind, elementary aged children should be getting ready for bed at 8pm, not starting a baseball game!
    My two cents…

    1. admin says:

      I totally agree, I should have mentioned that in my blog. Any kind of extra-curricular activity where they can learn these skills is absolutely invaluable! The late games in baseball are rough, I know Jennifer was having to deal with that and Jackson this past spring. And even football and drill their practices last late into the evening. The pros far outweigh the cons in my opinion though. Thank you so much for the insight!

  7. Hunter says:

    I remember that day. We were happy for what we achieved. We were the 3rd ranked team in the league that year. And I was starting on both sides of the ball so it was a very difficult game.

    1. admin says:

      That was a good day, I am glad you still remember it fondly!

  8. Benson says:

    It’s saddening and embarrassing to see a parent getting violent or physical during their builds game. I quite understand it some times hurt to see some happenings during a game especially when our child is one thee loosing end and the referee is not being fair but still not enough reason to be violent. Dialogue at interval with the team coach or someone who can reach the official to see to it. There isn’t any reason for violence. Nice of you to have mentioned it .

    1. Travis says:

      Completely agree! I wish we could teach our kids how to solve problems peacefully. They take their cues from us. Being a parent has definitely made me a better person. Thank you for the thoughts!

  9. Bella says:

    The benefits of sport to our kids can’t be disregarded. My younger sibling doesn’t have the skill tomake friends easily and the class teacher suggested we register him in his class football team that year. After a little while, we realized he could now relate better. Also, there is the aspect of helping them take challenges, build confidence, take instructions and execute them as well. Parents should also be cautious enough to not let the game affect them, because they kids would learn from their reactions.

    1. Travis says:

      Happy to hear about the positives your younger sibling experienced after participating in sports! Agree that parents should see through their kids eyes, it will help them realize what is important!

  10. Randy Levy says:

    Great post.  As we grow older we tend to suppress some important activities from our  routine. We are so busy working hard to make.  We forget to exercise.  I was very active at onetime in my life.  But when started working and building my family.  I was so busy that I didn’t have time to exercise.  I’m gaining weight and I’m feeling bad about it 

    1. Travis says:

      No need to feel bad about it, we all know it is a part of life. Especially once you have a family, your priorities shift from taking care of yourself to taking care of your family! Although check out some of these games I have for kids here, you can do both, take care of your kids while being active yourself! https://fantasysportsdad.com/f

  11. Nate Stone says:

    Hi Travis,

    Good article, I’m british so like a lot of children growing up here, I played football/ soccer and then when I was slightly older (about 10) I started playing rugby.

    Yes some parents got a bit animated but me and my team mates ourselves were less bothered about the outcomes (yes we liked to win) because enjoying the game was our main priority.

    For me team sports are a great way to learn social skills, leadership and how to follow. I think it’s a shame if certain parents let their own ego spoil what should be an enjoyable experience for kids!

    1. Travis says:

      That is what I love about sports, it doesn’t matter what part of the world you live in, the sports themselves might be different but the idea is the same. Kids play because they love the game, and their teammates. They learn so much! Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  12. Gihan Akalanka says:

    Another useful article,

    Travis, I must say this.your articles are very clear and easy to understand.it really helpful for fathers who have kids. I love to read your articles.

    I want to keep my children happy so sports are the best and active way to achieve their happiness and succes..but in modern world, we all try to improve their knowledge.also in their free time they try to play video games without doing physical activity.

    As you tell when they do active sport as a team they will develop a strong bond with their teammates. also, the will have to improve their leadership skills. most importantly the will have fun and they will learn about winning and losing.

    Again thank you for sharing this information. 

    1. Travis says:

      I totally agree, thank you for reading my blog. It is so important to keep our kids busy, and youth sports is a great way to do that!

  13. T.K. says:

    Hello
    I am not the biggest fan of youth sports, but that’s mainly due to the adults involved.

    I live in a state where football is king, and in my opinion, it breeds a particular type of culture.
    There are tackle football programs for kids as young as five I couldn’t believe it when a recruiter approached me asking if my son was interested he was offended when I told him it was not an option.
    I do agree that sports offer a way for kids to socialize and work on leadership skills.

    1. Travis says:

      I live in a football state as  well, and having multiple children had made me realize that different kids will naturally gravitate to different sports. Making a kid play a sport that they do not enjoy will not help anybody out in the long run. Nice to chat with you about this! 

  14. Donny says:

    I want to make sure my child gets exposed to sports and gets to interact with others a lot. Growing up, this is something that I never got to do I was never a sports guy and never had any sport so when others were discussing football or anything like that i wasn’t part of it. These sports really help you gain confidence and also give you the chance to get more friends and of course not forgetting the fitness benefit. People should make sure them or at least their kid gets involved it helps without you evening knowing it is. Thanks for this important subject.

    1. Travis says:

      That’s always good to help your child be active, I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to play when you were younger. Just remember that it is for enjoyment first, and they will enjoy and grow! 

  15. Digger82 says:

    Nice post on the benefits of playing youth sports, a topic I completely agree with. My little cousin has been playing Grid Kids football the last two seasons and it took his teamt 1.5 seasons to get their first win and then they won 3/4 of their next games. They worked hard through a lot of defeats and they were over the moon and so proud when they got their first win and now that they have had a taste of it they are all working even harder than before. It’s really great to see. (these kids are around 9 years old)

    1. Travis says:

      That’s amazing! That’s what it’s all about, I’m sure those boys have friendships that they will remember for the rest of their lives! I like the fact they stuck together they the losses and are staying to taste the sweetness of victory! Good story! 

  16. Wayne says:

    Totally have to agree with you, Travis. There are far too many parents out there that behave the way some kids do when they don’t get their way.  Kids learn from their parents and when they see behaviour like that it does influence them and some grow up to be just like their parents and the parents wonder “How did that happen”?

    Kids just want to be kids and really don’t need the added pressure.  Sure they want to win, they want to succeed, they want their parents to be proud of them but, they also just want to be kids.  They need encouragement from their mom and dad, not anger and disrespect toward coaches and referees who are just volunteering their time to help these kids have a great experience.

    The benefits of youth sport are really what it’s all about. I think most of what they learn (as you’ve mentioned here) is learned by example and attrition.  They are learning and most of the time they (being young) don’t even realize it.

    In the end, as adults, it is our job to teach them in “the way they should go”, the right way to live their lives. Teamwork, respect, empathy, helping others, HAVING FUN, the ability to be coached… these are learned by the example we set as parents.

    There is great and wise advice here and I hope many parents will read this (especially those who tend to be “Over-reactive?”), and remember who’s watching them the most.

    Wayne

    1. Travis says:

      100% agree Wayne, that’s the exact same way I see it. I hope that as a culture we grow and learn to step back and let the kids be kids, if you would like to share this that would be great! Thanks for reading

  17. Irina says:

    I have a boy for 15 years. Can was born I wanted to be the best in everything he does. As I wanted to have my only success he had only failures. Then I learned to love unconditionally and to enjoy only existed. I found out his views on life. I was surprised because it was very healthy. Now my son is a basketball. And I do not I want to be the best team. After each workout just ask him if he liked it. He smiles and says yes. And I’m happy. And my son began to want to perform makes. He wanted it all the time but wanted to have fun while doing it. 🙂

    1. Travis says:

      It is hard sometimes as parents because we want the best for our children, it seems like you have set your son up for success and he is happy. Which makes us happy right? So glad you enjoyed the post, have a great day! 

  18. Aly says:

    You are right to be a champion of youth sports. There are so many reasons to encourage young people to learn and work towards mastering a sport. You briefly mention college and scholarships as a reason, but even if an athlete isn’t up to the standards of earning a spot on a collegiate team, just the act of participating on a team can be a signal to an admissions group that the athlete is more well-rounded and a better fit at the school than other applicants that are not athletes!

    Great points all around!

    1. Travis says:

      Totally agree, college and scholarships are definitely just a by product and not the whole reason to play. Thank you for reading! 

  19. Judy says:

    Thanks for a great article I really enjoyed reading this and it brought back so many memories of my daughter being involved in sports. It is so important for kids and for parents to be involved in sporting activities as they grow up. The values that they learn are absolutely imperative and you as a parent grow and develop watching your kids play sports. It helps you form a closer bond with your kids. They really value you being out and cheering them on at their event in a positive way. If every parent was able to get out and have their kids involved in sports and be there to support them we have a lot of happier more balanced kids growing up. Let’s hope that more people are able to share these important times with their kids and there’s less time playing video games. Thanks again and here’s to raising kids the right way!

    1. Travis says:

      Thank you for the kind words! I agree completely, there are so many benefits in having your kids play a sport. I hope that all kids that want to play get to

  20. Igor says:

    Youth sport is getting more and more important for young people. Also for their parents, for many reasons. The digital industrialization, the “modern way of online life” is taking the price. More and more kids are getting fat, don’t move at all and spend hours in front of their devices.

    That produces problems for their health, thus parents, school society and themselves. Humans (in this form at present) were created to move. taking them the movement away, they are getting ill. 

    having a sports attitude and building up sports and health behavior in life, is best what parents and community can offer to their kids.
    Parents should understand that kids are not “small adults!” They have their own characters and they need to develop without parent’s pressure if something goes wrong in that age in the sports field, school or at home. Moreover, should be supported. 

    The sort is great for youth and for anyone else if done properly!

    Best regards,
    Igor

    1. Travis says:

      I competely agree, these kids need to learn how to be themselves first, all of my kids are different. They all enjoy different sports and activities, but at the end of the day as long as they are enjoying it and trying their best im happy! 

  21. Jessie says:

    Hey thank you for the awesome post! My kids are about to start school in a year.  I am sure my little girl is already interested in soccer, and my little boy seems to be a football fan.  I am hoping they will enjoy it.  It can be expensive, but it’s worth it for their own psychological well being.

    1. Travis says:

      It can be very expensive, but most teams I’ve seen have had some kind of fund raiser to help with fees and costs. 

  22. David ben says:

    Nice one,as we then to advance in age and capacity we forget about the needful,I know most time we adults forget about exercise which is a primary need,but even as we are too busy or tried to involve in sports please I would adivce we make sure our children partake in sports so as to help them grow stronger and remain fit thanks again for this I know it would help many parents.

    1. Travis says:

      I agree, it is much tougher to be active as an adult when you have so many other things to do, such as taking the kids to these activities! Thank you for reading! 

  23. Kara says:

    It is so interesting to hear how different the opinions are from people who ever played sports. I notice this in my personal life as well. I was raised playing instruments and dancing (ballet, tap, jazz) and never once played a sport unless I was forced to in P.E. As you can imagine, I don’t have a single competitive bone in my body. Of course, it feels good to “win” but I would never really be furious over losing. 

    I have heard about the experiences with negative and rude parents and it really is very sad. The important thing should be teaching the kids not to quit and to persevere. The bonus is the lifetime friendships they will make.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Travis says:

      My oldest son now plays the French horn and the violin, so I have gotten to see both sides of that. There are bonds developed there as well. I agree with the sadness when parents do not understand they are hurting the kids when they act out. 

  24. Nelson says:

    hello,

    This is a good  one because the the importance of exercise (sport) cannot be overemphasized it helps the body to maintain its natural state and also regulate circulatory  system, also helps you maintain fitness therefore I will have advice every parents to be involved in sport no matter how tired or busy or tight your schedule  might  be  and also very important involve your children so that they can grow healthy and strong thank you very much.

    1. Travis says:

      I agree, thank you for the information! 

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