There are many reasons why kids take an interest in sports.
Often, it’s an older sibling or friend who introduces them, or perhaps it is peer pressure and classroom discussion that piques their interest. Mass media sometimes plays a part, or it could be a favorite team or player that kindles the enthusiasm.
For kids, sports can offer more than fun, they’re also a vital component of growing up. It’s not only a physical benefit, providing health and exercise, but a social activity as well.
Social skills are learned behaviors, which means kids learn social skills through observation and use. Learning social skills is an important part of growing up for kids. Sometimes they make mistakes in social settings, and other times they find success. They make friends, lose friends, cause anger, defuse a tense situation, and manage conflicts.
With the COVID pandemic causing many families to spend time apart and quarantined, it has been difficult for children to practice social skills. Rather than making friendships and interacting, kids find themselves struggling to stay healthy, follow new rules and socially distance.
The challenges of the pandemic are causing many parents to seek out opportunities for social activities. Even in a pandemic, kids need an opportunity to learn and practice social skills, but they also need to be safe. They need structure and discipline around activities that will prevent problems.
That’s where team and group sports can help.
With the right team and support system, children not only learn the sport and build healthy physical habits, they also have the opportunity to develop and refine their social skills in a safe environment.
Let’s look at what this can mean for kids.
With a group or team activity, kids will naturally gravitate to people they feel comfortable with. Smaller groups and closer friendships will develop on the team, and that’s okay. It’s the perfect environment for finding friends. Often, the friendships you make on a sports team are ones that will last a lifetime.
Etiquette, or learning how social cues work, can be frustrating for many children. The etiquette among your immediate family is often very different from the etiquette in other areas. With a coach and other assistants providing structure around team activities, kids can practice etiquette and learn social cues in a more structured environment. It provides support for good etiquette and can help correct problematic social behaviors.
Discipline and control are important parts of any social skillset. With any sport, there will be rules. There will be a right and a wrong way to play, to practice and work together. This is an excellent way for children to learn discipline. With children focused on fun and getting better, learning that discipline will come naturally.
Confidence is a benefit that comes naturally from playing a sport. When working as a team, with each teammate contributing to the success of the team in their own way, everyone has a chance to succeed and build their confidence. With confidence, kids will be more assertive in social situations, and can more quickly recover from a challenge or problem.
Simply finding a safe and constructive way to get children together can be difficult, especially when fighting a pandemic. Sports, and team sports especially, are a structured way to let kids interact while also providing necessary safety measures. Kids not only learn the sport, but they can watch, interact and learn social skills safely among peers and friends.
Participating in sports has long been a rite of passage for children. It’s an important part of growing up.
Because of the limits on social interaction during the COVID pandemic, team sports are more important than ever for kids. With the right program, they can provide a safe and nurturing environment for children as they learn social behaviors. They can be a source of friendships, mentors, discipline, confidence, and fun, even during difficult times.
If you want to learn more, reach out to the USASF with your questions. If you’d like to find a team or coach in your area, make sure to check out our All Star Club Finder.