Parents and coaches believe that by giving their children the opportunity to compete at younger ages, they will acquire more skills and have an edge on other athletes. Though that may be true, the result is that many kids are dropping out of sports before they get to high school. By placing a more balanced approach to athletics, parents and coaches can encourage kids to enjoy sports for a lifetime. Athletics can have a positive psychological and physical impact on children.
Sports that focus on healthy physical fitness can encourage kids to develop a safe program that doesn't strain muscles and bones while they are growing. This prevents the increased number of children requiring physical therapy or having lasting injuries prior to high school. A balanced approach to athletics in young kids enables them to develop coordination and body awareness. In addition, with introducing a nutritious diet, kids are inspired to see athletics as a part of a healthy lifestyle.
Participation in sports should give kids the opportunity to play in a supportive atmosphere that fosters age appropriate skill development, promotes enhanced fitness levels, and is positive and enjoyable. The more positive opportunities kids are given to participate in athletic activities, the more their motivation, knowledge and competence can increase and the more likely they will engage in these skills and be active throughout their lives.
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Athletics should offer a wide choice of physical activities for young children, exploring their interests and abilities. Spontaneous play as well as organized sports needs to be encouraged. Kids need to be mature enough to attentively listen to and respect their coach as well as the standards of group instruction.This ensures that the kids will increase in skill, and practice time will be more productive. When kids learn athletic skills correctly, it decreases the amount of injuries.
Because it's been proven that there is a correlation between physical activity and academic performance, keeping kids involved in athletic programs is important. The involvement in physical activity has a direct impact on the brain. It helps with concentration, memory, and attention in class.
Mentally, sports can create a fun and enjoyable environment for children especially when coaches emphasize team bonding activities. This can cultivate good sportsmanship, foster a passion for a particular sport and create friendships. Whether it is a team building exercise, friendly competition, connecting with someone that has similar interests, or making new friends, kids often say that their favorite part of sports is the social aspect. It is an important role in finding a passion for a sport. Children who enjoy the social aspect of athletics are more likely to invest time and energy into improving their skills on their own.
In addition to team building, valuing good sportsmanship must be stressed and modeled in athletic programs. This involves respecting referee and coaching decisions, appreciating all teammates and their contribution to the team, and losing or winning gracefully. This can be taught by having young athletes thank referees and other volunteers after a game and directing them to encourage and praise their teammates. Also, coaches can guide their athletes to respect the effort of other teams whether they win or lose. Kids who learn to value being a good sport will appreciate others throughout their lives.
Teaching kids that each person plays an important and necessary role is a key component to healthy athletic programs. Encouraging kids to focus on doing their best and pursuing their own personal best while de-emphasizing competition between players on a team can also help children grow in confidence. Coaches can give honest and encouraging feedback to their young athletes in individual skill areas which can breed success and self-assurance. When children know that they are valued for who they are, they tend to be more secure and are able to perform better because they are free of the fear of displeasing teammates, coaches, and parents. Children who believe in their abilities and aren't afraid of failure often are willing to try other new activities.
It is essential that programs also allow young athletes to fail as well as succeed. Failure shows kids that setbacks are inevitable and provides for an opportunity to receive constructive input. It teaches children to be persevering in overcoming obstacles. However, too much failure can cause kids to be discouraged. Success builds confidence, and creates positive emotions towards athletics which motivates children to pursue healthy goals. Success validates that hard work can create better performance.
Parents and coaches that want the best for their children and desire to give them the most opportunity to succeed in sports should wait to place them in competitive athletics. For children, prior to middle school, sports should be about physical activity, having fun, learning new skills, and laying the groundwork for good sportsmanship. Over the long haul, a balanced athletic program that allows younger children to enjoy athletics and develop a healthy lifestyle will prevent burn out and enable them to be more productive and creative. They will gain lifelong skills that will produce emotionally and physically healthier adults.
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