How Can Sport Help Kids Understand the Power of Teamwork?


Guest post by Jane Sandwood

How Can Sport Help Kids Understand the Power of Teamwork?

Schools across the US are embracing opportunities for group and teamwork, with studies showing that working together teaches children important communication and social skills, including active listening, patience, empathy, compromise, and optimal conflict resolution. However, not all activities can be dedicated to group work, so sports can fill a vital social gap. Organized sports are the perfect way for children to enjoy a favorite activity with others, hone their fitness, and learn key life lessons.

Doing is Believing

One of the best ways to show kids the importance of teamwork is to sign them up for a group sport and to ask them how they feel after playing it. A 2019 study by researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis has found that boys aged nine to 11 who took part in team sports had larger hippocampus volumes. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that plays a key role in memory and healthy responses to stress. The scientists additionally found that group sports could help kids stave off depression. Researchers believe that these benefits can be attributed to the combination of exercise, social support, and structure involved in this type of activity.

Team Sports Build Good Citizens

Research by academics at Queen’s University has found that team sports offer children a lot more than the experience of winning, losing and getting physically fit. They also help children develop important social skills and citizenship qualities that stand them in good stead throughout their lives. Of course, they can only do so if their sport is played under the right conditions. That is, coaches and parents should help children to improve against their own benchmarks, without comparing themselves to others.

What is the Ideal Team Sport for Kids?

There is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to engaging children in group sports. Rather, parents and teachers should ensure children try out a wide range of activities so they can discover activities they truly enjoy. Many kids start out with sports like soccer, baseball, basketball, or hockey, but trends can also determine which sports they may like to try out. Currently, for instance, junior golf is booming in the sports world for many reasons—including the fact that it is played outdoors and that it teaches children skills such as determination, commitment, etiquette, responsibility, and honesty. Many golf schools start children out in golf via group classes, which is an excellent way to help children make new friends.

Understanding What Kids Love About Sports

When choosing sports to introduce to children, it pays to know what they most like about them. A 2019 George Washington University study has found that girls and boys alike enjoy two main things about sports: trying their best and working hard. That’s right, winning only ranked 40th in importance. Straight from the mouth of babes!

Group sports are an excellent way to introduce children to new friends. However, even within a school setting or among family members and friends, these activities can teach kids important life skills. Patience, sharing, respect, and commitment are just a few values that organized sports can hone for a lifetime.

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