The benefits of participating in team sports/activities offer lessons that carryover into all aspects of life for children. As a mother of a two and a long-time coach, the benefits of team sports are evident and obvious, with physical fitness being at the top of the list in our sedentary society. But did you also know that children who participate in organized sports do better in school, have better interpersonal skills, and are more team oriented?
Of particular interest to Mississauga parents are the benefits of sport participation for girls. According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports the benefits include: increased self-esteem, increased self-confidence and a healthier body image. Furthermore, female athletes “do better academically and have lower school dropout rates than their non-athletic counterparts.”
The Women’s Sports Foundation lists many ways that sports specifically benefit girls including their being less likely to become pregnant as teenagers, less likely to begin smoking, more likely to do well in science, and more likely to graduate from high school and college than female non-athletes. Female athletes also take greater pride in their physical and social selves; they are more active physically as they age; and they suffer less depression. There is also some evidence that physical activity decreases a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer and helps prevent osteoporosis.
And if that weren’t enough, in an Oppenheimer Funds survey of highly successful women, 82 percent of those polled played sports in senior public school, secondary school, or university. Team activities, they said, helped them succeed in a competitive work environment. Team sports may also help women shatter the glass ceiling, “Teams are how corporations are structured. According to the Executive Director of the Women’s sports Foundation, “involvement in athletics is how boys have always learned to be competitive at work”.
The message is clear: get your daughter started now. Girls who don’t participate in sports by age 10 have just a 10 percent chance of being active at 25. “There’s still a great deal of pressure on girls not to pursue sports and to be popular in other ways.” But the benefits or team sports are unique and should be highly encouraged.
Here are three ways to encourage your daughter:
1. Connect her with a coach or organization that will foster her skills. Programs that teach skills breed success, and success makes for fun, and fun means she’ll continue to play.
2. She’s no Hayley Wickenheiser? Try different sports and physical activities -from soccer to gymnastics, cheerleading to swimming – until she finds one that engages her. Remember, this is her choice, let her do what she loves.
3. Show your support, according to University of Western Ontario researchers, 70 percent of girls were active when both mom and dad encouraged them.
Encouraging our daughters to participate in team sports will benefit their entire lives – from the physical to the emotional. We owe it to them to get them involved.
Article submitted by:
Mother of two: Daughter 15 and Son 13. Cheerleading coach for 25 years. Owner of Power Cheer Toronto: a cheerleading instructional facility. Teams for girls and boys aged 3 –18+ years old. Coach of the National Team for Cheerleading (2009 World Champions).