If you are a parent it is likely that at some point you have had dealings or interactions with youth sports leagues whether it be from your child’s school or local leagues within your community. A recent study noted that nearly 38% of kids age 6-12 are participating in some type of individual or team sport. These leagues are a great way for both youth and parents to be involved with the community and can have great benefits for both the child and others involved with these organizations. There are a variety of different sports available to youth and the opportunities only keep expanding.

Getting involved in sports is a great way for kids to get and stay active. Physical activity has numerous health benefits and being active just one day a week has great health benefits. It helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and strengthen joints. It also helps control weight and reduces fat. With the childhood obesity rate continually on the rise and nearly 1 and 3 kids being affected, this is a great benefit. Research has also shown that it helps reduce the instances of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases in adulthood, and children who were involved in sports had ⅓ the disability rate later in life.

Children that participate in sports often have an increased awareness of their body and what it takes to maintain and keep it healthy. These kids tend to make healthier food choices and develop habits that they can carry throughout life. Adults that participated in youth sports are more likely to exercise and continue healthy choices throughout their lifetime.

Physical activity also has cognitive and educational benefits. Children that participate in organized sports are noted to have better academic success with higher test scores and overall grades versus those who didn’t participate in sports. Children that go on to play sports in high school are 15% more likely to attend college than non-athletes and also have a higher graduation rate. Once in the workplace, children that participated in organized sports typically saw higher annual earnings and increased overall productivity in the workplace.

Not only are physical and cognitive benefits noted, but participation in sports is also found to be linked to better mental health in teenagers and young adults and reduce stress and depression. Children that are not physically active are twice as likely to suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Lower suicide rates are also noted in physically active teens. Along with mental health, youth sports are also linked to other psychological benefits.

Taking part in youth sports helps you develop life-long skills such as increased self-esteem, the ability to receive criticism, work collaboratively with others, develop resiliency, and establish a strong work ethic.

  • Self-Esteem – Learning and perfecting a skill from hard work and determination helps boost self-esteem. Seeing your success and failures and the hard work needed all play a part in a higher self esteem.
  • Constructive Criticism – participating in sports will inevitably mean taking criticism from coaches, teammates, and even parents. Learning how to effectively handle this and resolve the conflict and reduce stress is a skill developed through youth sports that will translate into adulthood.
  • Teamwork – working collaboratively with others is essential in sports and especially team sports. Youth that are a part of a sports team learn how to communicate effectively with others and work together to achieve common goals.
  • Resilience – Success, and failures are all part of sports and even more a part of life. Youth sports teach children how to win and lose and the lessons from each situation.
  • Work Ethic – Sports require a commitment. Children that excel in them often spend hours on and off the field working to perfect their skills. This commitment requires time management, organization, and motivation and fosters a work ethic among kids that carries over into their adult lives.

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Youth sports is a time commitment and involves showing up to scheduled practices and games. Having this scheduled activity helps to eliminate idle time that could be used for unhealthy activities or risky behaviors. School dropout rates, criminal behavior, and gang involvement are shown to be lower in areas with higher youth-based sports activity initiatives. Participation in these activities helps connect kids to other kids and develop friendships and a sense of belonging. Youth also get to witness volunteering and helping and serving in your community first hand with the coaches involved with these teams and organizations.

youth-based sports have been around for years and continue to evolve into a great foundation for many youth. Participating in youth sports leagues fosters healthy habits and behaviors that mirrors real life and is why it should be an important part of a child’s development. The physical activity, the cognitive and the physiological benefits have been proven to be lifelong and a great way to increase .