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Team sports: How kids benefit from organized athletics

Kristin Chessman is a freelance writer, editor and mom from Southern California with a passion for travel, fashion, Disney, the beach, Italian food and all-things celebrity. Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinChessman.

Organized sports are a home run

On the fence as to if you should sign your child up for a team sport? You should — and here's why! Organized sports are a home run in more ways than one. In fact, endurance sports have been proven to actually raise IQ, in addition to building confidence and teaching kids about emotional self-control. Need more proof? Read on to discover why team sports can help your child become a champion for life!

Girl with bat

Organized sports not only keep kids healthier physically, but mentally as well. Research shows that children who play organized sports are frequently healthier and physically stronger than their less athletic peers — and they are smarter as well.

According to sports psychology author Jim Taylor, Ph.D., endurance sports have been found to enhance brain development and raise IQ. In addition, he says that sports build confidence, develop focus, and teach kids about emotional control. "Kids learn essential life skills, such as hard work, patience, persistence, and how to respond positively to setbacks and failure," Taylor says.

Find out how team sports encourage the following traits to help your child succeed.

1

How to get along with others (even those you don't like)

You know the old cliche, "there is no 'I' in team?" Organized sports teach children the essential life skill of getting along with teammates they might not necessarily like. According to licensed marriage and family therapist Bette Alkazian, team sports teach children how to overlook an annoying teammate or a bad attitude. They also encourage friendship and empathy for fellow teammates. "When a friend gets hurt, you cheer for him and hope he finds the inner strength to push through and play on," she says.

Team sports bring together kids from various religious and cultural backgrounds, which is bound to provide a valuable learning experience. Teammates must learn how to adapt to and accept each others' cultures so they can work together as a team. Learning how to get along with people with many different personalities and with different cultures is a skill that will be needed when they enter the workforce and will take your child far past high school.

2

Benefits of friendly competition

When playing on a team, kids, coaches and parents spend plenty of time together. Making sure everyone gets along comes down to one simple word: respect. Not only will your little athletes learn to respect and honor their coach and the coach's decisions, but also to respect their fellow teammates. By noticing the strengths that each individual player brings to the team, they'll learn to appreciate and respect each others' talents. It's healthy to be competitive, but respect fosters a friendly competition that pushes each teammate to be the best he can be.

In addition, team sports will give your youngsters something to take pride in. Once they achieve goals they set for themselves, they'll gain pride in their success and confidence in their skills.

3

Creates future leaders

Even if your children don't have the athletic prowess to be the next Tom Brady, team sports give them some of the skills needed to be the next Bill Gates! Kids who participate in team sports are also more likely to be active, hard working students, and better future workers. That's because organized athletics teach kids how to be disciplined during practice, how to focus on the task at hand, and how to have patience when the going gets tough. Children playing team sports also have to learn how to achieve balance between their schoolwork and athletics, which fosters a strong work ethic both on and off the court.

4

You win some, you lose some

Soccer ball

Even though you may get out the measuring stick at home to make sure each sibling has the same size piece of cake, kids must learn that in the real world life isn't always fair, unfortunately their team won't always win, and every call by the referee won't always seem fair. Dealing with disappointment will only make your youngsters stronger as they grow older. Not only will they gain the willpower to be the best athlete they can, but they'll also learn the importance of perseverance and endurance to get them through the rough times and most importantly, to never give up.

5

Helps kids find their swagger

Team sports are a huge self-esteem booster for kids to help them find their swagger. They'll gain greater confidence by learning about their own strengths and capabilities. In addition, kids involved in athletics tend to be natural leaders and learning leadership skills at a young age will be a big boost someday in the corporate world.

For girls entering adolescence, team sports are especially important. As Tonia Caselman, Ph.D., points out, this is a time when most girls are being bombarded by messages about the importance of their looks and popularity, which can take a toll on their self-esteem and even lead to eating disorders. Team sports help build their confidence by proving that they're valued for more than just their looks.

Organized athletics also have the power to give your children courage. Picture it now: The team is tied with two seconds left, and your child is handed the basketball just in time to make the game-deciding shot. When the buzzer goes off, the ball goes through the net and your child throws her hands up in victory, you'll be reveling in her courage and confidence.


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