Starting Sports at a Young Age Has Benefits
Oftentimes, we hear about the pitcher who damages his elbow being used too aggressively by a Little League baseball coach or about traveling sports teams whose players drive hours every weekend to participate. Yet despite the bad reputation that youth athletics sometimes get, young children should still continue to play sports.
Youth sports can be greatly beneficial to kids in many different ways. For one thing, they teach kids the value of competition. Many positive outcomes stem from the lessons gained through competition in youth sports. And while a highly competitive environment can create overly competitive kids, there are actually many benefits associated with a competitive personality.
Kids becoming competitive at a young age can lead to more success in school and in other aspects of life. The concept of competition taught by youth sports is that one should always try their hardest to outperform the opponent, or, in other words, try to do better than everyone else. For many kids, this mindset crosses over to the classroom, where the kids who participate in competitive youth sports have a drive to succeed that is stronger than those who don’t play sports. It is no coincidence, then, that studies have shown that athletes have higher grades than non–athletes, lower numbers of absences, and higher graduation rates.
Additionally, exposure to a very competitive athletic environment will help kids learn how to cope with and succeed under pressure later in their lives. Even though this pressure may put stress on both the kids and their parents in the short term, the experience gained through these situations is invaluable to children in the long term.
Another reason that younger kids should be playing sports is that many friendships and bonds are formed through youth sports. Kids get to interact with other kids who share similar interests. The time spent together participating in sports allows kids to make friends, and really is there anything better for a child than making friends? The social aspect of youth sports is one reason why they are so beneficial to the children who engage in them.
Finally, sports help keep young kids active and in shape. In this day and age, when childhood obesity is at an all time high of 20 percent (more than three times what it was thirty years ago), the importance of an active lifestyle has never been clearer. Engaging in youth sports both keeps kids healthy in the short term, and teaches them the good habits that they need in order to stay in shape for the long term.
Over the last couple of decades, more and more parents have signed their kids up for organized youth sports. In 2011, there were over 2.6 million kids playing Little League baseball, and over 425,000 participating in Pop Warner football. Given all the benefits associated with participation in youth sports, it’s no wonder that kids are being signed up for these leagues in record numbers.