Playing sports is said to be good for kids. You’ve heard the usual list of advantages: the most touted being character building, persistence, teamwork, and fitness. I want to dig deeper into that rationale and explain nine very specific reasons I am glad that my three 20-something kids played sports from knee-high through college. Of course, I was glad they learned life lessons as they grew up, but I’m even more grateful today as I see them react to what life is throwing at them. These are the very specific lessons you child can learn, lessons that will come back to him when he faces challenges as an adult:
Your child gets experience in dealing with cocky teammates.
My son has dealt with co-workers who remind him of arrogant high school teammates. His sports experiences has given him the ability now to see past the annoying behavior and seek to understand.
Your child can learn to get a job done under pressure.
When my son recently faced pressure in his job, I knew he would stay calm. He learned to keep his cool under pressure when he led his teams as a high school and college quarterback.
Your child can learn to not give up on a goal, even when it feels hopeless.
I see this daily in my daughter who is working hard to achieve a personal goal in her life. She has faced numerous setbacks, but she will not give up.
Your child can learn to ignore naysayers.
There will always be doubters and haters. It happened when my kids were on losing teams and when people expressed doubt in their abilities. If your kids learn to ignore the negative voices in sports, they will be ready to do the same in life.
Your child can learn how to understand his boss, the coach.
All three of my kids had coaches who they struggled to read. The admonition of seeking to understand was preached over and over in our home and our kids are still practicing it today.
Your child can learn to express what he wants and needs.
We always made our kids confront the coach when they had questions or struggles on the team. Learning to express their concerns to a person in authority or to any adult has made them confident communicators.
Your child can learn to be patient with people who can’t keep up with him.
There was always a player who needed help on my kids’ teams, someone who struggled to keep up. As adults, my kids are able to give encouragement and compassion to co-workers, friends, or neighbors who can’t quite keep up in life.
Your child can learn to respect and benefit from the strengths of others.
The ability to appreciate the skills of others and support their talents makes for a great team player, in the game, in the office, in the home.
Your child can learn that he is defined by who he is, not by what he does.
When integrity, honesty and hard work become the true measure of a champion, and not just stats, trophies and accolades, then your kids will not base their self-esteem on performance–in the game or in life–but on who they know themselves to be on the inside. I miss watching my kids play sports. Even watching my daughter coach softball is just not the same. But as I see them apply their sports lessons to the real world as adults, I feel like a proud mom watching from the stands all over again. Janis Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM THINKS.