There are countless options when it comes to parents and kids choosing extracurricular activities. Music, dance, drama, academic clubs, Girl or Boy Scouts, and youth sports are amongst the most common extracurriculars. But, these activities are not cheap! If you are concerned about a return on investment, think no more. This article examines how youth sports teach more than strength, speed and agility. The longterm benefits to youth development trump the initial costs of league registration or summer camps. Below are the most essential life skills for success in today's multi-faceted world of business, relationships and personal goal achievement; youth sport can be a building block for these same skills.
Leadership: CEOs, Managers, Coaches, Teachers...every profession relies on the skills of leadership for successful and personal growth. Youth sports provide kids leadership opportunities such as serving as team captains, playing positions like quarterback/pitcher/goalkeeper, and being called on to perform in high pressure situations. Young people who engage in youth sport develop leadership skills early on and will be comfortable in these roles throughout their educational and professional journey.
Teamwork: Even if your kids participate in individual sports such as golf or tennis, more often than not there is a team element to their experience. A golfer may compete individually but his or her score is reflected in the team's total as well. Teamwork comes in the form of accountability, sharing responsibility, setting goals for success and being able to assess strengths and weaknesses to maximize outcomes.
Communication: What life situation is not highly dependent on effective communication? Relationships/marriages, work-related outcomes, personal decision making, and everyday tasks like ordering a meal or paying bills all require accurate and effective communication. Youth who participate in sport are forced to communicate on the field with team mates (calling for the ball, strategizing on the field or court, halftime discussion and assessment). The communication skills developed in youth sport are an integral part of how we build and maintain relationships longterm.
Discipline/Commitment: Starting something and seeing it through until the end. Showing up on time, consistently and well-prepared for the task at hand. All of these are life skills that are a part of everything we do. Whether it is getting the kids ready for school, serving on a committee at work or hitting the gym every morning instead of sleeping in, commitment leads to positive behaviors and healthy habits. Teaching our youth these skills through the youth sport experience will instill in them the importance of discipline and commitment well after pee wee soccer has come to an end.
Confidence: Attempting any task without a strong intrinsic belief in our ability to succeed is all but wasted. Youth sport is a testing ground for skills and abilities. A place where you can try and fail, and get back up again stronger than you were before. If we never learn to bask in success and learn from failures then we will always live fearful of failing. Confidence is built through an ability to excel in the face of challenge and come out on the other side stronger than you were before. Youth sport has the ability to create just such an environment for our youngsters.