As kids start getting bigger, parents might start considering enrolling them in a sport. So many sports are available from nearly the ages of 3-4 and go all the way through high school and beyond. Sports are so much more than seeing cute little toddlers running around on a soccer field, though. There are a lot of physical and mental benefits to them as well.

According to a study done by The University of Kansas, high school athletes were ten percent more likely to graduate than their peers who had never participated in sports. Athletes were also shown to have higher grade point averages than non-athletes. The Institute of Medicine also did a study which showed that kids who are very active typically perform better on standardized tests.

Related:Playing A Team Sport Can Only Benefit A Child's Mental Health

This could be in part due to the fact that exercise increases blood flow to the brain and activates endorphins. Endorphins help improve a person's mood and work performance. Or maybe it's due to the fact that playing sports increases cognitive ability. Most likely, it's both.

Sports Help Kids Learn Responsibility

When kids are in sports, especially high school sports, there is a lot of responsibility needed. Team practice or meetings, games, training, and academic expectation. In most schools a certain GPA is expected, if their grades suffer, they may not be able to play. Sports help kids become a part of the community as well. They are part of a team, each with personal responsibility. They find good role models and become good role models. There is no drinking or drug use allowed when you play sports, so making good choices is important.

Sports Teach Kids Good Sportsmanship

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Good sportsmanship is a great life lesson that kids are able to learn through playing sports. Good sportsmanship encompasses things like being able to win without bragging and losing without throwing a fit. Stanford Children's Hospital offers these tips for parents to instill in their children when they are playing sports:

  • If you lose, don't make excuses.
  • If you win, don't rub it in.
  • Learn from mistakes and get back in the game.
  • Always do your best.
  • If someone else makes a mistake, remain encouraged and avoid criticizing.
  • Show respect for yourself, your team, and the officials of the game.

Eventually, anyone who plays a sport will experience some adversity. Learning how to handle hard situations is a fundamental part of life. Bad days happen to just about everyone, how people react to these situations is what defines their character.

Sports Teach Kids It's Okay To Make Mistakes

There will be many times when players make mistakes during games or practice. Whether it's kicking the soccer ball in the wrong goal, missing the game-winning shot, or striking out. Coaches, parents, and fellow team members are there to let them know it's not the end of the world. You live and you learn, quite literally.

Sports Teach Leadership Skills

Kids Playing Hockey
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Throughout a youth sports' season, all players should have the opportunity to be a leader on their team. When given these opportunities to lead, players will become much more confident leading others and develop leadership skills that not all kids have the opportunity to learn.

Sports Help Kids Communicate

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Team sports require a lot of good communication, both verbal and nonverbal. Developing communication skills is important for maintaining and functioning as a team. Those skills will also help children academically and in the future.

Sports Teach Goal Setting & Hard Work

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Goal setting helps improve kids' motivation and commitment. It helps them stay focused on what to accomplish, helps assess their strengths and weaknesses, and track their performance. According to Rutgers University, goal setting is one of the most effective techniques for enhancing motivation and performance. Goals set direction, tell us what to do, and increase effort, persistence, and quality of performance. Once set, goals require us to develop specific techniques for how to achieve those goals.

Sources: University of Kansas, Institute of Medicine, Stanford Children's Hospital, Rutgers University