For the last few years, there’s been a decline in youth sports participation throughout the U.S. Fewer kids are playing sports and, as a result, they’re spending more time sedentary instead.
As a parent, you might be concerned about your child’s lack of physical activity. You might also be on the fence about signing them up for a sports team, though.
If you’re unsure of whether youth sports are a good option for your child, keep reading. Explained below are some of the top reasons why sports are great for kids. You’ll also find some tips that will help you to encourage participation for your child.
Benefits of Youth Sports Participation
There are lots of reasons why sports participation is great for kids. The following are some of the most noteworthy benefits sports have to offer:
Improved Brain Development
Playing sports is very beneficial for your child’s brain development. Kids who play sports often have better hand-eye coordination than those who don’t. They also tend to experience better overall academic achievement (this includes higher grades and test scores).
When kids are involved in sports, they tend to have better behavior, too. They concentrate better in class, for example, and are less likely to act out.
Reduced Risk of Substance Abuse
This benefit, alone, ought to be enough for parents to get interested in signing their kids up for some kind of sport. Regular exercise and athletic participation have been linked to a decreased likelihood that a child will develop a substance abuse issue.
This decreased likelihood has to do, in part, with the fact that kids who are active tend to have more of an interest in being healthy. They also have additional support from their coaches and teammates, which further reduces their chances of abusing drugs or alcohol.
Reduced Risk of Health Problems
When kids play sports and are active, they’re also less likely to experience other health problems. This includes chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer.
Remember, the more active your child is in their youth, the easier it is for them to continue being active as they get older. You might not think it’s important to worry about chronic health problems now when your child is young, but by encouraging them to play sports now, you can also set them up for success later in life.
Increased Chances of Attending College
When you look at youth sports participation statistics, you’ll find that kids who play sports are more likely to attend college than those who do not. High school athletes are more likely to graduate from college than those who don’t, too.
One study found that 73 percent of female athletes and 59 percent of male athletes were expected to graduate. By comparison, only 67 percent of female non-athletes and 53 percent of male non-athletes were expected to graduate.
Improved Mental Health
Sports are great for kids’ mental health, too. By signing your child up for some kind of sport, you can significantly reduce their chances of developing issues like depression or anxiety.
You can also provide them with an opportunity to develop high self-esteem and self-confidence. Both of these characteristics will serve them very well as they get older.
Tips for Encouraging Sports Participation
Okay, you can understand now why it’s likely a good idea to sign your child up for a sports team. You might also be wondering, though, how you can make sports seem more appealing to them.
Here are some tips to help you do just that:
Be an Example
If you want your kid to play sports and be active, maybe you should play sports and be active, too. This is especially important for young kids. When they see you doing something, they’re going to be more interested in also doing that thing.
To take things to the next level, don’t just let your child see you playing sports and being active. Play sports and be active with them.
Invite them to come and kick a soccer ball or shoot baskets with you. If your child has positive experiences playing sports and associated it with quality time spent with their parent, they’ll likely be more interested in being part of a team now or in the future.
Get Their Friends Involved
If you’re interested in having your child play sports, consider reaching out to the parents of some of their friends and find out if they would also like their kids to be more active. You might even want to share some of the benefits of youth sports participation with them to get them more invested.
Your child will likely be more excited about playing sports if it means they also get to spend time with their friends. If you get several kids interested in playing, you might also be able to start your own team if there aren’t any opportunities in your area.
Invite Them to Watch Sports with You
Another way to get kids interested in playing sports is to invite them to watch with you. Make it an event to sit down and watch NFL or NBA games on TV. You can also live stream high school events so they can see people play who are closer to their ages.
Finally, remember to be patient and don’t try to force your child into sports participation. This will lead to resentment in most cases and won’t yield the kind of positive benefits you’re hoping for them to experience.
Sign Your Kid Up for Youth Sports Today
Youth sports participation numbers might be declining, but parents throughout the country can all work together to change that. If you want your child to experience the benefits of playing sports, start implementing the tips outlined above today. They’ll help you to present sports in a positive light and get your child excited about participating.
Do you want to learn more about setting your child up for long-term success? Check out some of the other parent articles on our site for additional tips and tricks.
Image Credits: Ben Hershey