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What are some benefits of team sports for my child?

Christopher Giza, MD
Pediatrics
Team sports benefit children in that there are opportunities for teamwork and leadership that can sometimes only occur in the setting of team sports. There are many long-term benefits to physical fitness, such as cognitive benefits. It's been shown that young children who have opportunities for recess at school actually have better attention when they are in the classroom, so there is a real benefit to letting kids play.  We don't want our children to be couch potatoes. There are many positive reasons to participate in sports, and obviously we want our children to participate in them.

This content originally appeared on UCLA Health.
It is recommended youths get 60 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis. Team sports are a great way to help achieve this goal! Further, team sports foster psychosocial development in youths. It teaches them how to interact with others, and allows them to understand themselves better.

Team sports are a great way to get your child moving and can motivate him when he wouldn’t otherwise participate in more solitary activities. Although winning shouldn’t be the primary goal, being a part of a team that excels can spur a child to work harder in order to maintain team rank. If he works hard, he’ll be in better shape; if he’s in shape, his performance is improved; if his performance is improved, team performance is improved. A healthy cycle, and one that I encourage.

Team sports can help:

  • Make exercise fun
  • Help children build friendships
  • Promote strong bone mass, reducing the risk of osteoporosis as an adult
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Build self-esteem
  • Highlight teamwork
  • Teach self-discipline and goal-setting

Sometimes the physical and psychological demands and expectations of a team are too much for a child. If your child is under 6 years old, consider a team sport where everyone wins in the end; no score or points are kept.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.