Baseball, soccer, basketball, football – your family has plenty to choose from when it comes to sports participation. No matter which sport you choose, your child will see many benefits from playing. Involvement in sports helps your child reach the 60 minutes of physical activity a day that is recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there are other positive aspects of your child’s involvement.
Playing sports helps improve your child’s overall health, including reducing his risk of obesity, a growing problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of obese children between the ages of 6 and 11 living in the United States increased from 6.5 to 19.6 percent between 1976 to 1980 and 2007 to 2008. Due to the reduced risk of obesity, your child also has a reduced risk of obesity-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Involvement in sports also helps the growth of your child’s bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Participating in sports -- especially team sports -- provides your child with many life lessons. Your child learns about teamwork, to play fair, respect others and play by the rules. She also learns that she might not always win and how to deal with losing. By playing with other teammates, your child builds friendships, learns cooperation, learns to interact with others, builds her self-esteem and learns self-discipline. Sports teach practice, patience, determination and responsibility. A coach might also end up serving as a positive mentor for your child.
Sports provide an opportunity for the family to participate in activities together. Whether it’s attending one sibling’s game with the rest of the family or practicing together, it’s time spent together as a family. This benefits the whole family as it prompts everyone to do some sort of physical activity. You might also find an opportunity to get involved with the team, either as a coach, providing snacks or in concessions.
While there are many positive aspects of sports involvement, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. KidsHealth.org points out that most kids don’t have the physical skills or attention span needed for sports until about age 6 or 7. That doesn’t mean your 5 year old can’t play sports, but ensure you find an organization that focuses more on basic skills and less on competition. It’s also important to consider other commitments your child already has such as homework, youth group or other activities. You don’t want to get him involved in too many activities only to have him get burned out. Consider whether sports participation leaves enough time for the rest of your family and their activities. It’s also important to ensure your child is properly protected and prepared while playing sports.