Youth Development and the Power of Sports
Why did you or your child begin playing sports? Maybe to make friends? To create an after-school hobby or passion? Possibly as a career opportunity? Whatever you or your child’s reason for participating in athletic endeavors, the benefits reaped are beyond those originally sought after.
The connection youth players have to the sports they are passionate in is clear. Children learn invaluable lessons from joining their peers on the field.
How Sports Empower Youth Development
Of course, sports encourage youth players to improve their athletic skills. With every hour spent at practice, muscle memory helps build a stronger, more agile athlete capable of accomplishing more impressive feats.
But the benefits don’t end at athletic capability. In fact, the way sports empower youth development goes far, far beyond that!
Here are the ways participating in sports can encourage a developing youth player’s physical, mental, and social well-being.
Physical health is not just strength, but all of the things necessary to build it. Physical health includes working on mental fortitude, engaging in proper nutrition, and trying new activities for ongoing improvement. Sports ask a youth player to consider their body and put their well-being first.
This is a valuable lesson not to be overlooked, and many adults struggle with understanding and listening to their own bodies! By participating in sports, youth players develop a firmer understanding of physical health and how to take care of themselves, even long after they stop playing.
From childhood well into our adult years, we always prioritize teamwork. Teamwork comes in many forms, sometimes in the literal sense (such as when playing sports), but also in the metaphorical sense as we form teams to accomplish any task.
Working alongside others, embracing the differences that make us human, and playing to everyone’s strengths — not just their personal ones — are lessons learned on the field and kept for a lifetime.
Teaching Dedication and Commitment
It’s clear how much time goes into perfecting one’s ability at a sport. Between multi-hour daily practices, clinics and camps, away tournaments, and at-home improvements, players are always honing their skills and practicing their dedication. This ongoing commitment to a sport carries over to other facets of a kid’s life.
Being dedicated and committed to a sport helps encourage these skills as children learn to study vigorously for important tests, prepare for interviews, and show commitment to their friends, family, peers, coworkers, and more.
Learning How to Lose
Life is full of ups and downs, and there will always be times of loss as a child matures — whether on or off the field. Sports teach kids not only sportsmanship as it applies to the game, but also how to lose with grace. From a sub-par grade on a test to the everyday rejections we face in relationships and workplaces, learning how to lose without impacting self-confidence and self-worth is something taught on the field and not to be overlooked.
Making Lifelong Friends
One of the best parts of spending so much time on a team is meeting people you genuinely enjoy the company of. Youth players are able to spend hours each day with the friends they love. Moreover, youth sports create fundamentally strong friendships as teammates work together and overcome obstacles by each other’s sides.
Thousands of school-age children apply for higher education and scholarships every day. Sports involvement heightens a youth player’s odds of being accepted into various programs, offering opportunities they may not otherwise have. The most obvious example of this is college athletic scholarships, which often grant admission into prestigious institutions at a reduced price. Similarly, many private high schools and colleges offer sports scholarships and view youth players involved in extracurriculars more favorably.
We ask our youth to make decisions about their entire futures quite quickly, asking them during formative years just what it is they’d like to be when they grow up. By engaging in sports, many children may find that their athletic passion is one they’d like to continue well into their adult years. This may be as a professional player, a coach, or a trainer. Even if they decide not to make it their career, hobbies still give kids a firm understanding of what it means to find something they like and would enjoy doing every day.
Get Empowered Through Soccer to Football
At Soccer to Football, we give youth players the benefits of immersion in a professional or affiliated European football academy, only furthering the developments described above. By evaluating players in their applications and then in-person, we allow players to benefit from the European scouting system and therefore a real chance to truly go pro.
There’s nothing like showcasing your experience and skills from a young age to increase the odds of a college scholarship or athletic career! Submit your application today for an exclusive European football experience, open to children ages 10–18.