20 Reasons Why Kids Should Play Team Sports

Being a team sports parent means you may travel thousands of miles and invest thousands of dollars, but it will be worth it. You will likely spend hundreds of dollars on those new turf shoes that your kid wants, but you won’t complain. Outfitting a football or hockey player isn’t cheap.

But the lessons kids will learn and the character traits they will build when they play a competitive team sport will serve them well for their entire lives. Here are 20 benefits kids will get when they play team sports.

1. Team Sports Improve Physical Fitness 

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in our country today. Obesity is caused in great part by poor dietary habits and constant inactivity. Playing team sports will help keep your kids physically active. Team sports will encourage kids to become more physically fit because they will be exercising during practice and games. They will strengthen their bodies, build endurance, and their body movements will help reduce stress and build confidence. Physical fitness helps develop coordination and balance. Kids that play sports will have superior core strength, posture, and overall coordination than a kid that sits and plays video games all day long. When children become obese, they are setting themselves up for a lifetime of health and emotional problems.

2. Team Sports Increase Self-confidence

Being part of a team will result in a boost of a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Being on a team is one of the best ways to connect with teammates and coaches. Being part of a team allows kids to give and receive positive recognition, and receiving positive recognition from teammates, coaches, and other parents is acknowledgment of their efforts and builds a positive self-image.

3. Team Sports Builds Strong Relationships

The camaraderie and support that develops between players, coaches, parents, siblings, and other family members is inspirational. The hours spent commuting to practices and games, and on the sidelines with parents and children from multiple teams is a relationship-building process. We all want the team and the players to be successful. We count on each other to provide coverage and support when we physically cannot be there, and when our child needs a helping hand.

4. Team Sports Improve Cognitive Ability

Every practice and game present a number of problems that players need to solve. The pace of the game encourages kids to solve those problems quickly in the run of play. Sometimes there is a game plan that the players are given before the game that needs to be adjusted on the fly in order for the team to be successful. Standardized testing has shown that student-athletes perform better on cognitive tests than non-athletes.

5. Team Sports Teach Kids That Life Isn’t Always Fair

Referees and officials are human, and they make mistakes. Many of them are unpaid volunteers. However, kids need to learn to respect the decisions of the referee without arguing or demonstrating poor sportsmanship. They must learn that there is one person in charge of the game, and no matter how strongly you feel the wrong call was made, you just don’t have the authority to change the call. The players must accept a bad call and move forward with playing the game. Arguing and complaining is only going to impact your child’s performance and turn the referee against your kid and his/her team.

6. Team Sports Teach Kids That Plans Don’t Always Work Out

Sometimes, unlucky things happen. Players get sick or injured. Or they don’t make their preferred team. Or perhaps they have a new coach and they lose their starting position. For those kids who are unfortunate enough to experience this disappointing lesson, it can be difficult to adjust their expectations. The only option left for your child is to adapt their plans to the new reality, and work extra hard to recover.

7. Team Sports Build Social Skills

When playing team sports kids will have to learn to communicate and interact with other kids and adults (coaches and other parents). One of the most important capabilities that children need to develop are their social skills. One of the best ways to develop your child’s social skills is by having them participate in team sports. In team sports, kids will have to learn to communicate successfully with coaches and teammates every day.

8. Team Sports Develop Competitiveness

Life is full of situations where you must compete. Being unwilling to compete with others for the things you want and need will prevent you from getting ahead in life. In today’s world if you aren’t willing to compete you will find yourself getting the short end of the stick on a regular basis. Being competitive isn’t just about being better than everyone else. Kids need to learn to challenge and compete with themselves to reach their goals in sports and in life. Every successful person I know is competitive. They are not just competing with others; they are very driven and are constantly competing with themselves. As kids become adults they will need to be competitive in school, in sports, in their chosen profession, and in life. It’s a competitive world that we all live in. Team sports is the best environment for preparing your children for the types of competition they will encounter throughout their lives.

9. Team Sports Enhance Your Kid’s Coachability and Willingness to Take Directions

In order to be successful in life you will need to learn how to accept constructive criticism. Participating in youth sports will teach kids how to take direction from someone of authority. When kids are receptive to instruction, they will be able to learn very quickly, and they will be able to improve their performance. Team sports don’t just exercise your body, sports exercise your brain as well. Team sports participation actually increases a child’s coachability, which in turn makes them better learners. There are hundreds of scientific studies that show that kids who play team sports are faster more proficient learners than their sedentary classmates.

10. Team Sports Help Kids Accept Defeat

Poor sportsmanship is a blight on athletics. No one likes a poor loser, but if you consider all the time, effort, money, and emotional capital you and your child have invested in a sport, it never feels good when you lose. But accepting a loss is an incredibly important life lesson. Many times I have seen a young athlete along with parents lose their composure over a loss. But losing with dignity is an important lesson to learn. Looking an opponent in the eye and congratulating them on a great performance and/or a winning effort can be the most difficult post-game gesture you can make.

This is an important life lesson to learn from sports and to carry into adulthood. When I was young, I played on a nationally ranked club soccer team, and we rarely lost a game. When I got to college soccer, our program was new, and we played against several nationally ranked college soccer teams. My college team won 3 games in my first two seasons. When I called my Dad for advice, he said “This is a good life experience for you. When you are a working adult you will find that you don’t win all the time.” Of course, he was right, and losing all those games prepared me for a future where life isn’t all about winning.

11. Team Sports Develop Teamwork

Teamwork is an important skill to carry into adulthood and your professional life. In today’s world employers are looking for people who understand playing a role on a team, and even more importantly, people who can lead in a team environment. Playing team sports at a young age allows kids an opportunity to work together to achieve goals, and build their teamwork and leadership skills. Being part of a team allows children to better understand their role on the team and where they can best fit in and contribute.

12. Team Sports Build Resilience

Kids who play team sports are often placed in difficult situations during games and practices. They are challenged to recognize a problem and quickly adapt to a solution. When your young athletes are faced with the prospect of playing a better team, they will need to adapt to that team’s strengths in order to try to neutralize those advantages. These kids will become more comfortable with challenges at school or at home. They will be more comfortable with high-pressure situations they experience later in life like taking the SAT’s, giving presentations, or interviewing for a job.

13. Team Sports Show Kids That Hard Work Pays Off

There are no shortcuts or free rides in sports and athletes who are successful have one thing in common: very hard work and consistent dedication. Natural ability plays a role in an athlete’s early years, but as they grow, it’s the hard workers that rise to the top. How many times have we seen a promising young athlete appear to be way ahead of his or her peers or teammates, only to have the hard workers catch and pass the leader in a few short seasons because the laggards worked longer and harder to get ahead. Practicing can be boring and tedious, but mastering skills can only be accomplished through dedication. Hard work creates self-confidence, which leads to positive results, which leads to overall success.

14. Team Sports Help Kids Control Their Emotions

How many times have we seen a young athlete lose his or her composure when a game isn’t going their way? It’s a lot more common than you might think, but there are many young kids who are used to getting everything they want, no matter what. The thing is that life doesn’t actually work that way, and team sports is a good way to teach young players that emotional outbursts are not the way to get what they want, and in fact it’s a good way to get people working against you.

This is an area where a good coach can step in, pull an emotional player out of the game, and explain to them why they need to calm down and just play the game. Parents can also play an important role in developing the athlete’s emotional control by re-enforcing a coach’s messages at home after the games and practice sessions are over.

The other way parents can help is to set a good example for their children and their teammates. Sometimes, I have witnessed that the parents need emotional maturity and self-control more than the kids do!

15. Team Sports Develop Good Time Management Skills

Team sports will keep kids busy and around other kids with similar goals and similar interests. Participating in team sports will keep them in a structured and supervised environment similar to the one they would have at school. They will learn life skills that they will take with them as they grow older. Children who get out of school and go to a sports practice will have fewer idle hours in which to play video games, watch TV, and just be a couch potato.

During his middle school years, my son played on 3 different soccer teams during the fall season, and had no extra time to do anything but his school homework. His grades and his overall health and well-being were always at their peak when he had virtually zero extra time to goof off. Today, he is a graduate from a top tier university where he had a double major, graduated with honors, worked a part-time job, and played professional soccer. Without the benchmark time management skills he developed as a young teen, he would have had difficulty having success in so many areas of interest as a college student.

16. Team Sports Build Leadership Skills

It’s wonderful when coaches encourage all the kids on a team to be leaders. This could be as simple as allowing different players to lead warm-ups before practice or a game. Or designating rotating captains for each game. When given opportunities to lead, players have to step up, become more self-confident when leading others, and in turn, develop the leadership skills that will guide them later in life.

17. Team Sports Teach Discipline

Team sports require the players to be disciplined both mentally and physically. In order to be successful in sports, children must learn self-control and how to be composed during stressful situations. Having discipline also means getting rest and hydrating before playing instead of eating junk food and staying up late to play video games. Discipline means carving out time to do homework and to study so they can get good grades and stay academically eligible to play sports. Good discipline and decision-making will stay with them later in life and will help them to be successful adults and good citizens.

18. Team Sports Help Parents be Present and Set Good Examples for Their Kids

Gameday is stressful for the most mentally fit all of athletes, and we’ve all witnessed situations where parents, players, and coaches have let that stress get the better of them. A great deal of time, money, and emotion has been invested, and it can be challenging to not let a bad call, or a display of poor sportsmanship cause a screaming match or even a brawl. As adults, we should be setting good examples for our children to follow. Yelling at your kids will not make them play any better. Instead, try saying, “I really enjoy watching you play”, “Do your very best out there”, “Enjoy yourself”, or “Go out and play your game.” Do it at your kid’s next game!!!

19. Team Sports Teach Collaboration

Each player on a team has their own skills and abilities. Coaches typically  try to put players in positions to increase their opportunities to be successful. This teaches players how to perform their assigned roles and work together as a team. It also teaches them to achieve results that cannot otherwise be achieved individually, and to be unselfish and to sacrifice for the benefit of the team.

Studies show that children who participate in team sports are less likely to drop out of school or engage in illicit or self-destructive behavior later in life.  Student-athletes also tend to excel in academics and have higher measures of confidence and self-esteem. Sports are a way kids can improve their overall health, which has a positive impact on how they perform both in school and on the field or court.

20. Team Sports Teach Commitment

Team sports teach kids about how to be a part of something larger and more important than themselves. When you commit to play a team sport, you are required to go to practice every single time there is a practice session. Team sports require commitment, discipline, and hard work from all the players. Kids will come home from school and do homework, eat dinner, and then go to practice. It’s a ton of work and lots of time spent by the kids and their parents. Going to school, doing homework, and then going to practice is pretty much a full-time job for the kids. This is an excellent preparation for when they become adults and join the work force.

Encourage your kids to play team sports. They will be happy they did!