With youth sports, the first benefit that comes to mind is physical fitness. In soccer or basketball, cycling or lacrosse, all that moving around helps kids get in shape. But sports also increase social and psychological development, and those benefits accrue simply through participation. In other words, a child doesn’t have to excel athletically – the important part is getting out and playing.

Interpersonal Skills100_5528

Many children think the world revolves around them, but playing sports can broaden that outlook. Education.com reports kids learn to take turns and cooperate with others to help their team succeed. They also appreciate each other’s successes as well as their own, which is an important step in socialization.

Success in School

Participation in sports leads to better school attendance and classroom behavior, according to a BBC report. Skills developed on the field or in the pool easily translate into academic skills. According to TVO Parents, these abilities include sharing with teammates or classmates, managing time wisely, taking responsibility and developing a can-do attitude. In sports, children also learn to follow directions and tackle problems, two helpful traits in a classroom setting.


Psychological Benefits

Children involved in sports maintain a better self-image, according to Families.com. They’re more likely to be happy with the way they look and feel, and they’re less prone to depression and isolation. They also tend to stay away from drinking and drugs because they’re proud of their physical performance and don’t want to diminish it.


Help from Mentors

Youngsters who pursue a sport often find a mentor — or more than one — who can make a huge difference in their lives. A parent may be a mentor, but a coach or volunteer often has more of an impact, according to Education.com. Not only can mentors help build skills and confidence, but they also can teach kids the value of learning from other people in sports and in other life pursuits.