Top Reasons Why Sports are Good for Teens

By JustMommies staff

Batter’s up!” “Touchdown!” “Penalty shot!”

Are traditional sports not part of your teen’s routine yet? Should they be? There is a lot of debate over how much emphasis to place on athletics these days. It’s understandable for non-sport fans to not wish for their worlds to revolve around ball games. However, the truth is football, baseball and basketball are not the only games to choose from. Tennis, swimming, boxing, skiing, in-line skating, soccer, bowling, horseback riding, karate, even fencing are just some of the exciting choices. There are a variety of sports, both popular and unique to try, and there are some really good reasons to encourage them.

Exercise

By now, all of America knows the obesity epidemic that is plaguing the youth in our country. Some of the crowd blames the decline of school lunch health; the drop in recess, gym and active play in public schools; the increase in passive screen time hobbies, including movies and video games. Yes, these all indeed play a factor. Getting your teen interested and involved in sports—even a variety of sports—is a real, hands-on way to keep them active and healthy. Sports give teen healthy outlets for hormonal balance, as well as movement goals and fitness awareness.

Coordination

Sports help youngsters develop and strengthen coordination. Maintaining balance and physical stamina come with practice. Teens can develop more natural hand-eye coordination than video games can ever hope to provide, as well as physical large-muscle coordination through a variety of sports, such as volleyball, hockey, or gymnastics. Keeping their reflexes sharp and alert through sports will nourish their physical health and well-being.

Team Work

There is no “I” in Team. It’s a popular phrase in most athletic arenas for a reason. By nature, human beings focus on themselves, and sports deliver a top-notch way for your children to practice and benefit from the virtues of being part of a team. This is an invaluable skill that will help them in the work field as well as family life. Two heads are better than one, and being part of a team teaches teens that they can be a part of something bigger than themselves... a skill they will definitely need as they take part in the world at large.

Competition

It is true that American culture sometimes gets a little carried away with a hyper-focus on competition, especially when combined with values based in consumerism or materialism. However, a balanced dose of healthy competition really is… healthy. It is good for teens to find motivation and drive. For many youngsters that may come in the form of a science or writing competition, rather than an athletic one. And that’s okay. But a dose of perspective while playing competitive sports can help build goal orientation, as well as the satisfaction that comes from effort and practice. Make sure your teen keeps athletics in a healthy check and balance with other activities and knows that how they play the game is what matters more than if you win or lose.

How to lose graciously

Speaking of losing, it’s one of the benefits of sports for kids. In a self-absorbed win-win-win culture, it can be difficult to find genuine opportunities for our children to learn the artful grace of losing well. Vince Lombardi once wisely said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” Setting aside pride and picking up respect, both for the game and the other players, is another amazing virtue that teens won’t ever fully understand until they live it out. Many adults still need to learn the patience and practice of not being a sore loser. Teach your teens that the character building that comes with losing well, with their heads held high, is an invaluable tool to help them through the rest of their lives.

Goal Setting

“Set your goals high, and don’t stop until you get there.” – Bo Jackson

Goal setting not only grows your teen in hands-on ways for earmarking and accomplishing work, it helps build stamina. Continuing practice for sports, whether for recreation or professional athletics, gives teens a concrete way to dream big and believe in the prospects of their future. If your teen has a natural talent and gift for the kind of coordination and skill required for a given sport, by all means, encourage them to be the best they can be of themselves. If they struggle with sports- giving them small, accomplishable goals will help raise their self-esteem and inspire them to keep going. Goal setting develops much needed perseverance in our youth today.

Less Screen Time

Smartphones, video games, movies, television, laptops, kindles, ipads…. It is no secret that our society is a bit screen-obsessed. Technology has taken over the free world. Nevertheless, is the startling number of hours per week spent in front of screens, healthy? Study after study shows the answer is no. Teens, especially, with an under-developed frontal cortex, can have stimulation issues surpassing just your average bad habits to break. Access screen time isn’t healthy for children, teens or adults. Involvement in sports gives the brain a much needed rest from the areas stimulated by screens and keeps them engaged in healthy real-world environments. Less screen time is an excellent reason to engage teens in sports and develop their brain and body health in a positive way.