Playing sports at any level from pick-up on the school field to the most elite teams teaches valuable life lessons that will help kids through difficult challenges throughout their lives.  They offer an opportunity for personal growth and the chance to develop important life skills.

  1. Success Requires Hard Work: Players quickly learn that the best players on the team are usually the players that work the hardest at improving their skills. At the youngest ages, natural talent certainly plays some role, but as kids age, the players with the best work ethic rise to the top.  They are the ones practicing free throw after free throw, taking shots on goal, or hitting at the batting cages.  This teaches kids that if they want to become really good at anything in life, whether it’s playing an instrument, learning a foreign language, or getting a promotion, then it’s going to take hard, consistent work. There are no shortcuts.
  1. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes: Even the best player will make a mistake during a game or at practice.  Most good coaches will say if you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not pushing yourself to try new and different skills.  Every mistake is a learning opportunity and a chance to evaluate what can be done differently the next time to change the outcome.  Making mistakes is good and helps develop stronger, smarter players, as long as it’s not the same mistake over and over.
  1. Exercise Does the Body Good: Involvement in sports can help kids develop healthy exercise and eating habits that will last a lifetime. Sports help kids understand how their bodies work, how to stay in shape and exercise properly, and how it feels to have fit bodies that are capable of anything.  Kids have a far greater chance of staying fit later in life if they play youth sports at a young age. 
  1. Life Isn’t Always Fair: Life can be tough.  It’s a difficult lesson for young players to learn, but a necessary one. Injuries happen; referees make bad calls or miss fouls; and things don’t always go your way for one reason or another.  Players have to learn to accept this and move forward because dwelling on it isn’t going to change the end result. 
  1. The World is Diverse: Teams generally include kids from all types of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. This provides young athletes with an opportunity to learn to work with others who are different from themselves. A diverse group of athletes fosters creativity, reduces stereotypes, and can provide kids with a different life perspective.
  1. How to Follow, How to Lead: Sports help young athletes learn to follow instructions and accept guidance from the coach who is an authority figure, and in many ways, similar to having a boss.  Players learn how to respectfully question authority, and how to have patience if they disagree.  In turn, athletes develop their own leadership skills by offering advice and guidance to other players. It also teaches kids how to deal with others when they have disagreements.  It’s as important to learn how to lead others, as it is to learn how to be led by others.  And by following, they get plenty of ideas of the type of leader they would like to be in the future.
  1. Self-Confidence: Participating in sports helps build self-esteem. By competing, you are able to discover your potential to perform better, to hold yourself to a higher standard, and to expect more of yourself.  Self-confidence makes athletes more likely to take on challenges in all aspects of their lives and to set goals and work to achieve them.
  1. Teamwork and Trust: Team members must learn to rely on each other and how to work well with others to achieve a common goal. Teamwork also involves understanding and respecting each member’s role and being a good team player.
  1. Sportsmanship: Learning how to win with class and lose with dignity are important life lessons.  Being gracious at both will help in years to come when you must face success and failure in your job and in your everyday life.
  1. How to Manage Pressure & Stress: For better or worse, there is a lot of pressure in youth sports, some of it attributable to over-the-top parents who demand consistent excellence from their children.   But some of the pressure is just the normal pressure of intense competition. Young athletes learn to deal with nerves and the stress they feel in these situations while in a safe environment.  While they may find some situations too overwhelming, it’s a learning experience that allows them get comfortable with high pressure situations they’ll encounter later in life.