Team Sports and Kids: Benefits and How to Choose
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
While not every child is made for team sports, there are a very large number that do enjoy them and there is no question that children can derive a lot of benefits from team sports. Not only are they getting a healthy dose of physical exercise, helping to combat the growing incidence of obesity in children, they also learn a lot of lessons about relationships such as the necessity for sharing, teamwork and loyalty. Moreover, they get the added benefit of learning key character traits such as tenacity, initiative, perseverance, and a strong work ethic, all of which can help them to be more confident and comfortable with who they are.
Sports and physical activity have even been shown to have a huge cognitive benefit. A study done by Dr. Chuck Hillman at the University of Illinois showed that after just 20 minutes of walking MRI scans showed the highest amount of neuro electric activity:
So, how do you determine which sports are best for your child? A lot will hinge on your child’s age, maturity level and their physical abilities. For children 5 years and younger most organized sports are going to be too advanced as they are only just beginning to master basic movements and there is really no long-term advantage for team sports at that age.
Once they reach the ages of 6 to 9, however, their visual acuity, attention span and intermediate skills (i.e. throwing for distance) improve and they are better able to follow instructions. For some, sports like t-ball, softball, baseball, soccer and tennis will better suit their competitive nature. Others will excel at sports that focus more on individual performance within a team like running, gymnastics, swimming and martial arts.
By the ages of 10 to 12 children typically have mature vision and can truly comprehend and recall play and strategies, a key component to more complex sports such as football, basketball, hockey and volleyball. They may still struggle with some of the awkwardness in coordination and balance that comes with puberty and its accompanying growth spurts but this is typically temporary.
When comparing the options available ask yourself some key questions: 1) is the physical contact, aggressiveness and competition involved developmentally appropriate for your child? 2) how much enjoyment will your child get out of playing that sport? More harm than good will come of putting your child into a sport that they just don’t like. Another good plan of action is allowing your child to try out several sports rather than specializing. At this age, being hyper-focused on one sport can lead to stress and burnout. Regardless of which sport your child ultimately chooses, keep in mind that they long-term goal is a lifetime of healthy and enjoyable physical activity.
At MAC Athletics, we are proud of our continued contribution to school and recreation center communities across the Midwest. We can not only provide your school or recreational facility with everything from fitness equipment to bleachers to scoreboards, but we provide full installation and safety inspections, as well. Give us a call today. Our knowledgeable team is standing by to answer any questions you have.