Is it good for my child to play sports?

Kids playing soccer.

We’ve all heard that sports are “good for kids,” but we’ve also heard news stories about concussions among student-athletes and the rise of stressed-out, overscheduled kids. Parents may rightfully wonder why sports are good for kids and how exactly sports benefit their children, which sports are the best for achieving those benefits, and how they can keep their kids safe.

What do sports have to do with my child’s development?

Sports require dedication, practice, and commitment. By participating in sports, kids learn to set goals, manage their time, and prioritize their activities. These skills can help them develop self-discipline and the ability to focus on long-term goals.

Here are some other ways sports benefit kids:

Improving problem-solving abilities: Sports often require quick thinking and decision-making. By practicing these skills in a sports context, kids can develop their problem-solving abilities and learn to make effective decisions under pressure.

Building resilience and coping skills: Sports can be challenging and involve setbacks and failures. By learning to cope with these challenges, kids can build resilience and develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks.

Physical health: Sports can help kids stay physically active, which is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Regular exercise also helps build strong bones and muscles, improve balance and coordination, and enhance cardiovascular fitness.

Academic performance: Studies have shown that kids who participate in sports may have better academic performance than those who don’t. Sports can help improve cognitive skills such as attention, memory, and decision-making, which can translate into better academic performance.

Mental health: Participating in sports can help kids improve their mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, boosting self-confidence and self-esteem, and promoting social connections and teamwork.

Is it only team sports that are good for kids, or any sport?

It’s not necessarily that team sports are better for kids than other sports, but team sports do offer some unique benefits that individual sports may not, such as:

  • Develop social skills: Team sports allow kids to interact with others and develop critical social skills, such as communication, cooperation, and leadership.
  • Encourage teamwork: Team sports require players to work together towards a common goal, which can help kids learn how to cooperate and collaborate with others.
  • Provide emotional support: Being part of a team can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging. Teammates can support and encourage each other during both victories and setbacks.
  • Foster a sense of responsibility: Team sports often require players to be accountable to their teammates and to take responsibility for their actions. This can help kids develop a sense of responsibility and become more reliable.
  • Teach conflict resolution: Playing on a team can help kids learn how to manage conflict and constructively resolve disputes.

To conclude, are competitive sports good for kids and do individual sports compare? Participating in competitive sports can help children develop a strong work ethic, learn to cope with pressure, and experience the rewards of hard work and dedication. While team sports offer these unique benefits, individual sports can also be valuable for kids, have all the same physical benefits and can help build self-confidence and self-discipline, plus allow kids to focus on their own goals and achievements. Ultimately, choosing a sport should depend on your child’s interests and preferences.

What are the safest team sports for kids?

Generally, good sports for kids are those that involve less physical contact and less risk of injury to the head and neck are considered safer. Here are some examples:

  • Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact sport that can be done year-round and provides a great cardiovascular workout without putting stress on the joints.
  • Track and field: Track and field events, such as running, jumping, and throwing, are generally considered safe for kids and practices offer excellent conditioning.
  • Soccer: Soccer is a popular worldwide and can be enjoyed by kids of all ages and through adulthood. While there is some risk of injury, such as sprains and strains, it is generally considered safer than American football.
  • Tennis: Tennis is a low-impact team sport that provides a great cardiovascular workout and can help improve hand-eye coordination and balance.

The Risk of Overwhelm

Some sports can quickly become part-time jobs. For example, competitive softball and baseball teams seem to travel and compete almost year-round. If you’re concerned about overwhelming your child’s schedule (and your own), talk with the league before you sign up. Ask about the frequency and duration of the season and any add-ons like tournaments, camps, and clinics.

Keep an open dialogue with your child about their stress level, and how much they’re enjoying the sport. There will be tough days, and balancing commitments to their team with personal desires won’t always be easy. Some stress can be beneficial, but parents should watch for signs that a sport has turned into a negative piece of their child’s life and be ready to help make a change.

Why is it good for kids to play sports? Playing sports can have numerous benefits for children, including skill development, improved physical and mental health, better academic performance, and enhanced social connections.

Remember, all sports, even those considered safe, carry some risk of injury. Proper safety measures, such as protective equipment and training, can help reduce the risk of injury. It’s also important for kids to receive a physical exam before starting a new sport to ensure they are healthy and ready to participate.

Zak Zarbock, M.D.

Zak Zarbock, M.D.

Zak practices pediatrics in our Riverton office.

a happy father receives a kiss from his son

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