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How Youth Sports Help Build Character

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Did you know that in the U.S. nearly 8 million student-athletes compete in team and individualized sport?

Youth sports are often seen as just another hobby or a leisurely activity to keep children entertained and active - and while yes, youth sports are great for meeting the physical exercise needs of children, participation in youth sports can also help kids build character and learn more about themselves in the process.

Cognitive improvement, physical growth, emotional intelligence… you name it, and youth sport likely creates a positive impact on that trait in some way. Let’s break some of these categories down further:

Cognitive Improvement: Kids who are involved in sports during their youth have reported up to 40% higher test scores than kids not involved in youth sport.

Emotional Intelligence: It is no secret that there are highs and lows associated with winning and losing in sports. Exposure to these emotions at a young age helps kids learn how to cope in a healthy and productive way. Youth sport also allows for children to develop empathy, sharpen their negotiation skills, and learn the importance of having sportsmanship during and after contests

Leadership qualities: When kids are put into a team environment, they learn how to best strategize the team’s strengths and weaknesses to create a product of success. Working with other kids toward a common goal helps to create an environment where the kids can learn and grow from each other.

Life Skills: Involvement in youth sports also helps children develop valuable life skills such as goal setting, time management, and work ethic. From juggling practice schedules to learning the value of hard work, children will develop key skills that will stick with them throughout the rest of their lives.

Stress Management: High stress situations and sports go hand-in-hand. Close games, demanding practice schedules, and the expectation to perform in clutch moments can all leave youth athletes in a state of high anxiety. Rigorous exercise prompts the body to release endorphins which help alleviate stress and high anxiety levels.

Increased Creativity: Studies have also shown that children who participate in youth sport develop a stronger sense of creativity into adulthood. Youth sports create an environment that fosters freedom in adaptive decision making. This leads to the ability to adapt to an ever-changing work environment and gives them the ability to solve complex problems often present in adulthood.

Youth sport exists in far more capacities than traditional organized team sports like basketball, soccer, baseball and softball, volleyball, or tennis. Other sports and activities may include strength training, cross country, skateboarding, cheerleading, jump rope teams, or any sort of environment that fosters community and competition.

Involvement in youth sports has been proven to be beneficial in a child’s life, and the options to get involved are endless. Youth fitness provides kids with an outlet for stress, helps them make friends, and provides them with a connection to the world. It is important to remember to keep them involved, make it fun, and let them thrive.