I am a strong believer in the benefits of sport for children. I grew up surrounded by many sporting opportunities from swimming to athletics, gymnastics to netball, basketball to cross country, the list goes on. As a young gymnast training at an elite level, my whole world revolved around sport.
Although my body doesn’t quite work as well as it used to, I still believe that the benefits sport provided me with when I was younger and the person it has helped shape me into today, was worth it.
Participation in sport is important for more than just physical fitness. I managed to secure 2 scholarships for my high schooling due to my sporting commitments outside of school. This provided me and my family with fantastic opportunities for my future.
The things that you learn while participating in childhood sports transition smoothly into everyday life skills when you reach adulthood. Research shows, 3 of the most common things that stop you from achieving your goals:
- Your skills
- Your self talk
- Your discipline
All 3 of these skills can be taught through participating in sport, which is why it’s so important for children to develop these skills early on. In fact, sport participation teaches five important things:
Most sports, gymnastics included, require children to listen to a set of instructions, take feedback from their coach and accept decisions that are made. This discipline taught within sport helps children later in life with their decision making. I’m sure we can all agree these are important skills that will not only help them everyday but also help when it’s time to develop a career.
Sport teaches children resilience, not to give up when things get tough and learn from their mistakes.
Patience is learnt by waiting their turn for their activity, listening to the coach explain what needs to be done within the lesson, watching the coach demonstrate each activity and taking careful slow steps before performing the activity in class.
Crucial teamwork skills are learnt through sport as children practise clear communication, feedback and enjoy the benefits of working with others. Children who play sports become talented at working independently and will take responsibility for themselves and their achievements. In team sports, this comes from not wanting to let down their team, in solo sports, such as gymnastics, it comes from the competitive side.
Studies have shown that taking part in sport can help in the development of confidence. Things like a high five or handshake when a class is over helps build that confidence in children.
So, it’s safe to say that any sport participation is good sport participation.
Kids should be encouraged to Grow Through Movement!