7 Life skills that playing sport teaches kids

“…it teaches kids to admire that they are fit and strong, above and beyond what they look like.”

Anyone that played a lot of sport as a kid will likely agree that it shaped a huge part of who they are today. The skills learnt through playing sport make it great for equipping children with key skills in later life.

Whilst not every child has a competitive nature, the beauty of playing sport is that it helps to build character and challenge mindset, no matter what level it is played at.

1) Learning that it’s ok to shine

Winning will come naturally to many kids fuelled with a competitive nature, but sometimes coming up against your friends in sport can be tough. It can be natural to feel worries about being better than your friends at sport, or maths or art etc. and some children will feel uncomfortable about this.

However realising that your true friends are rooting for you and it’s ok to try your best, (especially when you’ve worked hard for it), is a wonderful thing. Not only do we show ourselves what we are capable of, but we inspire others to do their best too. 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.” Marianne Williamson

2) Learning that losing is a totally normal part of life

Whilst losing is tough, the faster children come to accept it as a normal and key part of life, the easier is to tackle disappointment later on. In life your children will fall second in relationships, job interviews, exam results and more – and that’s ok.

With the right support and encouragement, many kids will fast be learning to bounce back, build resilience and to work harder for the victories.  Plus, losing makes the victories that bit more special, and teaches us not to take them for granted.  

3) Learning how to set short and long term goals

Perhaps this is more relevant to those children that have dreams of being Olympians one day, but playing competitive sport teaches kids to set long and short term goals, then lay out plans of how to achieve them. This is totally relevant for all ambitions they’ll have in later life, from buying a house to starting a business.

4) Learning to persevere, stay determined and to love the challenge

Two of the best things that sport teaches kids are perseverance and determination. Get back up, keep trying, keep working hard, be brave, believe in yourself and thrive off the challenge. This mindset will help kids to tackle many challenges in life with bravery and gumption.

5) Learning how to deal with pressure

There are many useful lessons to be learnt from being part of a high pressure environment:

  • Sport teaches kids to focus on the elements that they can control. They can control their actions, how hard they work and how they can compose themselves. They cannot control the weather, their opponent or the referee decisions so why worry about them.
  • Self awareness and the ability to acknowledge when you don’t feel comfortable with pressure is important too.  It’s ok for kids and adults not to thrive under pressure, and when the pressure becomes too much in life it’s good to know when to walk away.
  • Practising performing under pressure can be a good thing! It’s not for everybody but the more pressure becomes the norm, the less it feels like pressure and the more kids begin to trust themselves to perform in that environment.

6) Learning how to be part of a team

Team sports and events! The moment that team glory becomes more important than your own. Team events teach kids how important it is to support and encourage others, and to play to the strengths of each individual within the team. A scolding will very rarely bring out the best in someone.

7) Learning to build confidence

Sport can really help confidence. It’s enjoyable to master a skill, it’s a great way to meet new friends aside from those at school and most importantly it teaches kids to admire that they are fit and strong, above and beyond what they look like.

How to get your kids into sport

Aside from sport that your child’s school provides, there are so many local opportunities across the country. A really useful tool is the BBC Activity Finder, which highlights opportunities in clubs across the country and across a huge variety of sports. You can access the Activity Finder here.

Another useful website is the UK Sport, Sports Page which lists all of the National Governing Bodies across the sports. You can contact any of these National Governing Bodies for more information about clubs, coaches, rules etc. and they will be able to help you. 

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