The truth is in the numbers: 95% of Fortune 500 executives (aka the people who run the largest corporations in the U.S.) participated in high school athletics. That’s a huge eye-opener for parents considering letting their kids play team sports at a young age. But why? Because there are vital lessons kids learn from playing sports with their peers.
Team sports are more than just physical benefits and a chance to compete. They provide a rich learning ground for life’s most valuable lessons. As kids dribble soccer balls, swing baseball bats, or pass basketballs, they also engage in an education that goes beyond the game. Here, we’ll explore seven crucial life lessons that kids can gain from participating in team sports.
Lesson #1: The Importance of Teamwork
This might be one of the biggest lessons kids learn from sports. When it comes to team games, it’s critical that all players join forces in order to reach a common goal. This means children learn to perform duties that involve giving and taking the lead to achieve the best outcome.
Think of it like this. In basketball, players need to work together to pass the ball down the court so someone can shoot the ball into the hoop. While one player might really want to make the winning shot, if they aren’t in the right position, passing to another team member who’s closer to the hoop is probably the better option for scoring–but even when one person scores, the whole team gets a point. Kids will use teamwork skills for the rest of their lives: for school projects, in their careers, and even when raising a family.
Lesson #2: How to be Resilient
Resilience means recovering from difficult situations with grace and empathy. Team sports teach young athletes that a bad play or a lost game doesn’t determine the whole of the season or the entire future, as long as they keep their heads up and push toward their goal.
Eventually, this lesson helps children deal with disagreements that can pop up with friends, coworkers, and family. Being resilient will help them stick to studying hard subjects, overcome setbacks at work, and so much more.
Lesson #3: Accountability
Admitting when you made the wrong call is another crucial lesson kids learn from team sports. No one is the perfect athlete–especially in kid’s athletics. Mistakes are made, but being able to own up to a flaw and determine why a play didn’t work helps children learn from their slip-ups. In the future, learning accountability at this level will help kids develop an honest style of communication that makes them trustworthy in all areas of life.
Lesson #4: Having Patience
Patience is one of the most underrated life lessons kids learn from playing team sports, but it’s a huge one nonetheless. A prime example is the waiting game in a sport like baseball, where players must wait their turn to bat. And, even in the outfield–not every moment is action-packed.
This patience carries over into a child’s future, teaching them the invaluable skill of enduring setbacks and waiting for the right moment to seize opportunities. This calmness and understanding that success often requires patience becomes an asset as they navigate their academic pursuits, careers, and relationships.
Lesson #5: Reading Body Language
Children need to read body language in almost every team sport. This helps them assess situations while in competition, on or off the field. Take soccer, for instance. Players often communicate nonverbally through their movements and positioning on the field. A player might sprint towards the goal to indicate they are open to pass to.
This ability to decode their teammates’ or opponents’ intentions has a major impact on your kid’s future. Reading body language can help them navigate business deals such as salary negotiations, real estate deals, and learning when they should and shouldn’t trust a stranger.
Lesson #6: Controlling Emotions
Let’s be honest. Most young players hate losing. And team sports show them that sometimes, even with their best effort, they won’t always win. The sooner your child learns this, the sooner they can understand how to cope with future losses without major stress or anger. When they learn to control their emotions, in the future, they’ll be able to take a deep breath when getting passed up by a well-deserved promotion or shrug it off if they get turned down by a date.
Lesson #7: Failing With Dignity
When teams suffer devastating losses or lose championships, they have their hearts set on winning, they eventually learn to fail with dignity. Although it’s a major disappointment, this lesson becomes an opportunity for kids to develop adaptability, humility, and sportsmanship.
This life lesson can help them easily get over future hardships such as a failed job interview or romantic conflict. They’ll learn to take the high road and stay focused–which shows they are dependable and ethical and can improve their chances for future success.
Lesson #8: Dealing With Pressure
Dealing with pressure during a game means knowing how to change strategy at the last minute while still being able to stay focused. For example, in baseball, if you’re the last batter in a tied game with two outs and the winning run is determined by you hitting a home run, that’s a lot of pressure. It’s good for kids to feel that strain and practice staying focused.
A child who learns to do this will be able to accept a change on the job or even in their personal lives without being able to lose purpose. Dealing with pressure teaches kids to strategize long-term and in the moment as new developments occur. Plus, this lesson is vital for any professional career; from being a retail manager to a leading politician, learning to deal with pressure is a must.
The Impact of Team Sports
It’s easy to see how playing team sports can translate into must-have skills for future careers or personal relationships. Teamwork, resilience, accountability, patience, and more can all be learned outside the classroom.
And don’t worry if your child doesn’t make the official school sports team–check out community teams or arrange games with friends and neighborhood kids. All kids benefit from the chance to play sports with their peers and can attain positive skills for childhood and beyond.