Participating in sport at any age can teach many valuable life lessons. Not only does sport have proven physical benefits for our health and fitness, but it is even recognised as contributing to mental well-being too.
Many studies have linked sport to feelings of confidence, self-worth and purpose. The Youth Sport Trust, for example, aims in particular to develop leadership qualities in young people through sport. For children and young people, sport can be a great way to learn life lessons naturally and through genuine personal experience. Whether participating in an individual or team sport, there are many life lessons that sport can teach children.
Working well as a team is a crucial part of several sports. It teaches children to aim for a common goal and get along with a variety of people. It is not necessarily about becoming best friends with everyone on your team—although this can happen—but is more about teaching how to settle differences and pull together to achieve something great.
Winning and losing is a natural part of sport, but participation is an honour in itself. It is important for children to learn to conduct themselves with the same amount of grace and self-control in losing as they would when winning. Shaking hands, offering congratulations and having enjoyed the day regardless are all positive examples. People who have experience failures or setbacks are often said to become the most confident and resilient.
Sport usually requires regularly training, commitment and punctuality. Learning to attend training when others are counting on us, even when we might not feel in the mood, is positive discipline for children. It is also rewarding for children to see their technique and results improve when they put in the hard work. Regular coaching can be ideal, or you can put in extra hours at home. The internet allows access to a hockey practice playlist or a netball drill training video, for example, and websites have fun and effective exercises you can try at home.
Participating in sports from a young age teaches both physical and mental resilience. It gives a greater connection with the body and more control over our health. Whether uniting with a team or challenging themselves in an individual discipline, sport can have a profoundly positive impact on a child’s confidence.