One of my greatest regrets is failing to get into sports at a young age. At the time, I neither had the interest nor the physicality to do so. The value of sports for adolescents was lost on me at the time. By the time I had developed an interest, I did not have enough time outside my studies to pursue a new activity. My school also did not provide sufficient support, as only capable athletes were allowed to join the sports clubs. In contrast, those who wanted to explore the sport were barred from entry.
The importance of sports is well-documented, and their effects are particularly pronounced for adolescents.
Engaging in sports during one’s developmental years can profoundly impact their growth, both physically and mentally. So even if your teenager does not intend to pursue sports professionally, I would still recommend participating in some capacity. Here are a few reasons why sports for adolescents can be so beneficial.
1. Health upkeep
It is no secret that participation in sports is good for your body, but it is also good for the mind. Regular participation in sports helps with weight control, improving one’s stamina, and releasing stress. While serving as an outlet for teenagers during their developmental years, this sets a good foundation for adolescents’ health. Having this routine often leads to reduced risk of future ailments and mental illnesses, especially they continue to engage in similar sports throughout their lives. Adolescents will also benefit from improved self-esteem since they have less stress, a healthy body, and a decent physique. This creates a positive feedback loop for them to continue pursuing their goals both in sports and beyond.
2. Honing social skills
Sports is a safe way for adolescents to navigate their social lives and understand how they react in social situations. Depending on the type of sports that adolescents engage in, they may learn social skills differently. For example, adolescents playing solo sports may learn more about how they interact with their opponents and the value of sportsmanship through giving any competing athletes respect and dignity. Meanwhile, adolescents playing team sports may learn more about working together, putting aside egos, and good communication practices. These lessons and skills are not mutually exclusive. They will contribute to the holistic development of adolescents in the long run.
Playing under a sports coach gives teenagers a mentoring figure beyond the realm of home and school. These figures will help grow their charges differently since sports cannot be done at home or school. Its specific ruleset creates a unique environment for teenagers to grow. Coaches can identify particular facets of an adolescent’s personality, physicality, or mental state that are either playable strengths or areas of improvement. Their advice and praise can drive adolescents to improve even further while boosting their confidence and self-esteem. Their presence can comfort adolescents in times of failure, motivating them to grow through the experience. The company of a mentor in adolescent sports can thus build teenagers’ character in a long-lasting manner.
4. Cementing identity
A common struggle with adolescents is their identity and what makes them ‘them’ during their formative years. It is an internal conflict where they attempt to understand what makes them unique, what distinguishes them from others, or what traits they would like to possess. Participating in sports gives them a few axioms to build their identity upon, such as identifying as an athlete, a good team player, a focused and determined individual, and more. To help adolescents discover themselves, there are few better activities than sports.
Nonetheless, sports has the potential to derail adolescent development if not managed appropriately. Teenagers may tie their identity entirely to sports, a practice that is unhealthy because it hinders their ability to manage self-expectations and failure. As an activity that potentially takes up a large proportion of their time, basing one’s self-worth upon their performance within sports is the wrong track for teenagers to take. Parents should regularly communicate with adolescents to check on their progress and development, including suggesting other activities to discover and establish their identity.
Sports mainly focus on developing the body; if you want to develop your mind, head over to TransCultural Group and try out their fantastic courses!