Kids participating in youth sports today can choose between competitive and noncompetitive programs. The latter have gained a lot of traction in recent years. Such leagues focus primarily on participation and having fun – everyone is identified as a “winner,” and everyone seems to get a trophy. In some noncompetitive leagues, they don’t even keep score.
In competitive leagues, by contrast, scores are kept, and winners and losers are decided. These leagues are still fun for participants, but they also teach youngsters some valuable life lessons. Here’s a closer look at some of the areas positively impacted by playing competitive sports:
Preparation and performance
Think about what happens when you have a presentation due for work, or you are interviewing for a job. You prepare for the task so you can perform to the best of your ability. That lesson can begin with sports. If kids are aware there’s a big game coming up, chances are they’ll prepare more diligently. Ideally, this improved preparation will translate into better performance on the big day.
Being cool under pressure
It can be nerve-racking to be at the free-throw line with a chance to tie the basketball game with one second left. It can be just as nerve-racking to have your number called in the huddle on the last play of the football game. Bottom line: Playing competitive sports comes with some pressure-filled moments, and it’s up to the individual to manage anxiety and stay cool under pressure. This can translate to other things in life, such as big tests, job interviews and dates. Author, motivational speaker and physical education teacher, Kirk Mango, delves into how sports can greatly help shape an individual’s mental toughness in this Chicago Now article.
The goal is to win when playing a competitive sport, but it isn’t the only goal. Participants also strive to continually improve. The chance to compete is the motivation for setting goals and striving to achieve them.
It’s important to learn how to handle both winning and losing with grace. If no one keeps score, this won’t happen. When it comes to playing a competitive sport, there are bound to be times of great joy and great disappointment. Learning how to properly handle success and failure is crucial, not just in sports, but in life.
Sports are games, and games are meant to be fun. It’s fun to win. If you never keep score, never compete, and there are never any winners or losers, what’s the point of playing?
When you play a competitive sport, there’s an individual aspect in that you want to experience personal growth. You want to become a better skater, better shooter, better hitter, etc. At the same time, competitive sports also involve teams, so you learn to play well with others. Teammates often wind up becoming lifelong friends based on their shared interests and experiences. Being part of a team can also help a child develop self-esteem when he or she has contributed to a victory.
Data shows that students who participate in sports are more likely to do better academically, according to a blog piece by educator and gymnastics school CEO, Anne Josephson, on The Huffington Post site. Part of the reason is that competitive sports teach discipline and commitment, characteristics that carry over to other aspects of life – including schoolwork.
As you can see, there is a bevy of benefits associated with playing competitive sports. If you carefully examine what makes the world’s best athletes so great at their respective sports, you may find they share a high “compete level” – that is, they embrace competition and feed off of it in order to improve their games. Who knows whether these athletes ever would have gotten where they are if they weren’t keeping score?
Brandon Capaletti is Vice President of Cisco Athletic, an athletic apparel manufacturer of adult and youth custom uniforms. Cisco makes jerseys for 18 different sports, including soccer, basketball and baseball.
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