If you are planning on raising a confident, well-adjusted daughter who’s healthy, happy, and motivated be sure to know about the benefits of playing high school sports.  While there’s no special manual or “How to” book you need to read - you just make sure she plays sports, particularly in high school. 

Some of the Benefits to Girls Playing High School Sports

The nonprofit group Ruling Our Experiences (ROX) recently surveyed over 10,000 girls in 5th through 12th grade.  They found that girls who play sports exhibit more confidence, have a more positive self-image of themselves and their bodies, stronger relationships with other girls, and report lower levels of sadness and depression when compared to those who don’t participate in sports.

While these results aren’t surprising, they do confirm what many parents, coaches, and administrators have suspected for years.

Benefits are Farther Reaching Than Just Fitness

The benefits of playing sports go far beyond simple fitness and into the realm of mental health.  Girls who spend a lot of time on social media are 5 times more likely to report that they are sad or depressed nearly every day.  More time practicing and playing games leaves less opportunity for social media and results in improved mental health for athletes.

Female high school athletes have stronger relationships as well, and are significantly more likely to talk about serious issues with their friends, get along with other girls, trust other girls, and have healthy ways to manage stressful situations. 

Why Sports Matter in High School and Beyond

Studies show confidence declines sharply from 5th to 9th grade.  Interestingly, this is the same timeframe that many kids quit sports.  The National Alliance for Youth Sports reports that approximately 70% of kids in the U.S. stop playing organized sports by the age of 13.  But there are positive benefits to be had if you can keep your daughter “in the game”. 

The ROX study also showed that when compared to girls who do not play sports, female high school athletes are:

        14% more likely to believe they are smart enough for their dream career

        11% more likely to say they are happy the way they are

        16% less likely to say they want to change their appearance

And playing sports helps grades too.  61% of high school girls who have a grade point average above 4.0 play on a sports team.

Lastly, if you’re looking to raise daughters who will speak up for themselves and have the confidence to pursue their dream profession, playing sports will help that happen too.  Female athletes have increased career and leadership aspirations.

High School Sports Matter for Girls

In short, girls who play sports did better on nearly every index metric in the study versus their non-sport playing counterparts. There are clearly some significant overall benefits that girls enjoy as a result of being involved with a sports team with the most positive outcomes from sports participation at the high school level.

You can download the full report here.