Adolescents and Sport: Part 1
When I was growing up, I was crazy about sport (and I suppose I still am really). At the time, all I knew was that I was having lots of fun, but little did I know just how beneficial participating in sport really was. The evidence continues to show that getting involved in sport as a young person has so many positives. Below is just simply a list to get you thinking about a few of the most important benefits discovered for your adolescent.
Physical development – sport helps to develop the musculoskeletal system, resulting in stronger muscles, bones and tendons, and less likelihood of injuries. It’s even been suggested that the better shape your musculoskeletal system is in when you’re young, the more agile you’ll remain as you get older.
Co-ordination & balance - sport challenges the body and brain and thus improves its ability to develop critical motor patterns, leading to better balance and co-ordination.
Heart health - running around while having fun playing sport improves your heart’s ability to work efficiently and effectively. This results in a healthier heart and a decreased risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and strokes, which often develop from being sedentary.
Weight management - childhood obesity is becoming a serious epidemic in Australia, with 1 in 4 children being overweight or obese. Getting involved in sport and exercise will help your young person to manage their weight and reduce their chances of associated health problems. Also, children who regularly play sport tend to make better food choices.
Self-perception & confidence - young people who play sport as part of a team get to experience belonging to something bigger than themselves and can grow in confidence and self-belief as they personally become responsible for contributing to the team.
Discipline - sport encourages young people to be committed (to turning up and on time to training and games); to follow instructions; and to be self-controlled in order to not let the team down. These thing help develop discipline which many of us older folk can attest is essential to making headway in life.
Teamwork - team sports are a great opportunity for young people to realise that you can’t always have everything your way and that if you want to succeed, you also need consider the needs of others.
Granted these are just some of the roles that sport will play in helping your adolescent develop and grow. It’s really just the tip of the iceberg. The real fun begins when they join a team and can experience the camaraderie and community for themselves.
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