All types of sports can benefit a child by building self-confidence and promoting mental and physical well-being. Team sports, in particular, provide a child with additional social benefits. Whether a child is the star of the team or the second string, the team aspect teaches skills a child can use in athletics and in everyday life.
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Team sports promote a team attitude. Coaches often say, “There’s no ‘I’ in team,” which means one person doesn’t win or lose the game. Children work cooperatively to achieve a common goal. Having a team attitude teaches a child that while he can’t always control the outcome of a game, he can always try his best and support his teammates. He should always display good sportsmanship because a bad attitude reflects negatively on the whole team.
In an individual sport, skipping practice only hurts the individual athlete. In a team sport, what one member does affects the whole team. As part of a team, a child learns responsibility by going to practice when she doesn’t feel like it. Participating in any sport also encourages good time management skills. A child must organize her time to allow for homework, chores and sports practice. Time management is especially important because when a child is late or unprepared for a game or meet, she’s not just letting herself down, she’s letting down the whole team.
Playing on a team can teach two types of problem-solving skills: strategizing to beat the opponent and solving conflicts among teammates. A strategic child might work with his team to create plays to counteract the opponent’s defense, or the child might discuss making player substitutions to match the strengths of opposing teams. An effective problem solver learns to compromise when disagreements with teammates arise. He learns to communicate with children from a variety of backgrounds, including kids who are loud and bossy or shy and submissive.
Sometimes in team sports, waiting is the name of the game, and waiting teaches patience. On a softball team, a child waits for her turn at bat. On the swim team, a swimmer waits for her teammate to touch the wall so she can dive in and swim her leg of the race. Practice drills promote patience as the child waits in a line for her turn on the playing field. Children also practice patience when helping teammates to learn a new play or master a new skill.