We've all known a one-time high school quarterback who, now overweight and sometimes a little beery, loves to recount his winning plays. We’ve seen the middle-aged weekend athletic warrior who pulls something that really hurts in his zeal to recapture his adolescent basketball, soccer, or softball glory. And we’ve watched the erstwhile cheerleader, now a mom of four, who tries to do a split or a back handspring, with disastrous results.
While these examples may veer into caricature, they also illustrate a point: The sports kids play as teens can translate into a lifelong love affair with a particular game or activity. And the lessons teens learn while playing a sport will stand them in good stead, regardless of their age.
Accentuate the Positive
It’s estimated that roughly 65 percent of American children and adolescents participate in organized sports, says Greg Bach, the vice president of communications for the National Alliance for Youth Sports. And studies have shown that these kids feel better than their sedentary peers both mentally and physically. They weigh less, sleep better, and lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What are the mental and emotional advantages?—>
Benefits of Sports
- Sports practice takes hard work and dedication, which nurture self-confidence.
- If their sport involves being on a team, teens learn valuable lessons in teamwork and camaraderie.
- They build lifelong friendships.
- They learn to trust in the performance of those around them.
- They learn to organize their schedule and balance multiple priorities.
- They learn to set individual and group goals.
- They learn perseverance.
Something for Everyone
To foster a lifelong love of physical activity, help your child find a pursuit she likes, and focus on the fun it provides. Be sure she has the proper equipment and clothing. “In some cases, the right clothes and shoes might help a shy teen feel comfortable biking or going to the gym,” according to TeensHealth.
Remember, every pro athlete was once a teenager dreaming of the big leagues. But not even pro athletes can perform forever. In addition to strenuous sports, like football, hockey, and soccer, try to nurture your child’s interest in lower impact sports like, swimming, golf, or archery.
Parents can get in on the action, too. Participating in sports together will help you spend quality time with your child and build positive memories. And you’ll establish a pattern of physical fitness that will help you and your child age more gracefully and healthfully.