Children need physical activity every day. Physical activity improves physical and emotional health. Sports have also been shown to contribute to better grades and academic success, and to teach children many things beyond the books, such as helping children develop character, developing their brains, and learning important social skills such as problem solving, resilience, perseverance, confidence, and teamwork. Teamwork is a prerequisite for team success, and sports can teach kids how to achieve goals as a team.
Some children are naturally interested in physical activity, while others are not so keen. When kids have the opportunity to try a variety of different sports, it’s best to find something they enjoy. Many students find that they enjoy sports that give them a chance to compete individually, rather than as a team. In sports like track and field or swimming, athletes can try to improve their performance without team pressure. But as individual student performance improves, the team as a whole will benefit.
Sometimes children feel pressure to play sports that they are not interested in. Others feel stressed by focusing on just one sport while they want to participate in several different sports, which may limit their physical development and social ability. The most important thing is to make sure that children naturally integrate exercise into their lives. Parents, schools and clubs need to help children find their passions rather than trying to decide for them.
It’s key to keep exercise fun and encouraging, rather than forcing.
Keep the fun
It is also important to exercise as a family. In this way, parents show their children that they value fitness and enjoy sports, even if they are not competing at a high level.
Children can learn the importance of sports by watching their parents exercise. When they see the fun brought by sports, they can also feel the joy of sports. It’s important for parents not to push their children into frustrating situations too early and not to push too hard, as this can wear them out. Psychologists suggest simply asking your child: Are you having fun? The answer should be a passionate yes from the bottom of your heart. If these young athletes are not having fun, they are bound to give up eventually. For children, sports must be a fun “game”.
In the UK, PE with Joe was a hit during the lockdown. Fitness instructor Joe Weeks started a free live fitness event for kids online on Monday, March 23. With schools closed, he offered the lesson to all the children so they could stay healthy during the lockdown. He took these courses for four months. On March 24, a record 955,185 homes tuned in to “Take GYM class with Joe.” It’s a family event that encourages many people to exercise together in a fun way, like dressing up on A Friday.
According to a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, what makes exercise really appealing to kids is effort, progress, and experiencing positive coaching. It also stresses that children who exercise most must be well rested. “Kids need a few days a week away from organized sports, and they also need more time, at least a few weeks a year, just playing casually with friends,” said Dr. Logan, director of the division of sports medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and co-author of the report.
Clubs around the world have set up their own football academies, giving children the chance to enjoy their favourite sport while learning about the most important values of belonging to a team. As Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masia aims to develop players with a balanced development of athletic performance and intellectual education. In 2010, there were three finalists from La Masia: Lionel Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Ajax is also known for its academy and its philosophy of TIPS: technique, insight, character and speed.
Nadal has always worried that it would be difficult to prepare for a career as a professional tennis player while studying. He established the Rafa Nadal International School, where players combine tennis and learning, with a student-centered approach and core values of respect and responsibility.
Through sports, children will learn sportsmanship, respect and discipline. They will learn to congratulate others on their efforts and victories, they will learn to try to play to their best, but also appreciate the efforts of others. They have to respect their opponents and teammates and try to do their best. But when sports take up more and more of the time, things get trickier. It is understood that 70 per cent of children drop out of organised sports before the age of 13. In an age when school and hobbies take more time, kids don’t want to invest as much time in training. Here again, families play a key role, and parents should encourage sports for fun and encourage socializing, even if not competing at a higher level.
But some parents may question whether sports make sense when they stay up late helping their children with homework. Our view is clear: in the long run, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Athletic kids are more likely to be accepted by their peers and become captains and team leaders. Such children usually have better social skills.
Failure is a good thing
The number one goal of parents and coaches is to help kids feel successful in sports, to make them feel valued and needed. Great players often grow up in an environment where they are not afraid to make mistakes, where they are encouraged to try and tolerate failure, and where they understand that failure is a necessary part of the growth process. When you’re watching your kids play, either cheer loudly at the end of the game or say nothing at all. Yelling at them doesn’t work at all and has a lot of side effects.
Former footballer and coach John O ‘Sullivan founded The Change the Game Plan to ensure that youth sport takes “the game” back to “playing with the ball”. He reminds coaches and parents that while losing hurts, it should not always be viewed negatively in youth sports. “If we want to build resilience and courage in our children, then they need to face adversity from time to time.” Young athletes will learn more if they are left free to learn in a sporting environment.
Every child can succeed in one sport or another. It’s important to take the time to find the right exercise for each child and encourage them to keep “playing.”