Do Sports Keep Teens Out of Trouble?

Playing sports is one way to introduce kids to different physical activities. Playing sports help kids learn skills, including how to dribble a basketball, kick a soccer ball or leap over a hurdle. Learning such skills doesn’t happen overnight. It takes discipline and hard work. Also, involvement in sports can introduce kids to a new group of kids -- teammates -- who have at least one common interest. Equally important, research indicates that playing sports can benefit teens, who during times of hormonal changes and challenging social relationships can benefit from the stability of having constant teammates, a trustworthy coach and a focus on something outside of themselves.

Active Teens And Higher Self-Efficacy

Research published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine on a study of early teenagers found that children and adolescents are largely sedentary, but found that this trend was troubling, since according to the survey responses of the kids, they have higher self-esteem when they are involved in more intense physical activity. The researchers observed that increased high-level physical activity is an important part of helping kids develop self esteem. As such, parents should encourage kids to get active and get involved as higher self-esteem can help kids be better grounded and better stand up to peer pressure.

Learning About Healthy Competition

Former professional soccer player Eddie Henderson discussed the impacts of involvement in sports in an interview with the U.S. Department of State. In his interview he observed that life often involves competition -- for jobs, work and for better lives -- and noted that sports can prepare children for dealing with adversity by setting goals and accomplishing goals. This strategy can be applied to help kids deal with life goals, too.

Helping Girls Deemphasize Beauty

According to sources cited in a study on girls in sports published by the United States Sports Academy, before the 1990s the main factor contributing to a girls’ self-esteem was physical attractiveness. The paper’s author, Allison M. Schultz, noted that helping young women deemphasize beauty and realize the power of physical competence is an important benefit for girls participating in sports.

Offering Girls Role Models

The same literature review also found that membership in sports also offers girls “a greater pool of adult role models from where they can draw guidance and support.” The author also noted that girls can make new friends through the setting of sport, and that for teen girls, this sense of friendship is essential, with girls sometimes ranking being liked by other girls as something more important than being perceived as smart or independent.


Though it can be good for kids to be involved in sports, hold yourself back from being too pushy and from prioritizing the wrong things. Your child should be interested in the sport because it seems fun. If you constantly nag him, he probably won’t get so many positive benefits from playing, and could get burned out and also could come to resent you for turning his fun pastime sour. Keep in mind that, according to figures cited in a article on parents, kids and sports teams, just 1 percent of sports-playing kids end up earning scholarships 1. So keep the focus where it belongs: on the fun of the game.

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