By Jolyon & Lucy Marks
Directors of Rugbytots North East Kent
As owners of a Rugbytots franchise, coaches at our local hockey club and a school sports coach, the benefits of children playing sport is very clear to us. If you are wondering why you might sign your child up to a sports club, this article is for you. Sport is for everyone. Girls and boys alike can enjoy learning team or individual sports, that will help with their physical and social development. Team sport is so much more than the game. Sports are a brilliant way to build communication and social skills, which will help children long after they stop playing. Whether your child goes on to play a particular sport is almost irrelevant. Children will change their minds as they grow, they will switch between sports until they find the one that is right for them. Letting them try is the important part. Trying sports will involve learning specific skills, perhaps passing, catching or kicking, but the true benefit is the way the child develops and the confidence they gain during their playing time. Parents have commented many times what a difference sport has made to their child and how much more confident they have become. We believe this is achieved by the focus of the sessions being fun. We know that when the children and parents alike have fun in our sessions they will get maximum benefit from it, so this is our focus every time.
If you have a child with bundles of energy sport is a great way to use some of that energy constructively. At this early age a lot of physical development is still happening, so at Rugbytots, for example, our gameplay is designed to improve balance, coordination and general physical literacy. We also build in colours, numbers, animals, shapes, any number of learning opportunities exist in sport, and these are a great way to keep the sessions fresh and interesting for the children whilst helping them learn. Sport is also a great way to increase the diversity of people your child interacts with. People from different cultures and religions may be involved in your child’s life through sport. Sport can also be a really positive way to introduce children to disability, with more and more sports catering for children of all ability, it can help break the barriers of discrimination that can form later in life.
Another important element of team sports is discipline. Good listening skills become very important to maintain discipline, as well as managing often complex emotions. Learning how to lose is one aspect of this. There is a huge focus on winning in every part of life, but significantly so in sport, and learning how to lose, and also how to win as a team, at a young age is a vital life lesson.
Emotional control is an important element of sport, and children that actively play sports will have lots of opportunities to develop their emotional control. An example is a child who has a tantrum, we’ve all had them. In a good sports session, there are plenty of opportunities to bring a child back from this heightened emotional state, with the end goal to avoid those emotions bubbling over in the first place.Fun is at the centre of this control, if a session is fun, no tantrum can last forever! Another positive emotional outcome also includes the leadership skills that sport promotes. Many leaders are born out of sport, as they not only need to get the most from themselves but also their team mates. This can go on to have lifelong benefits if this social skill is developed at a young age playing sport.
The last, and perhaps most obvious, is that an active childhood helps with a healthy lifestyle. It is a well-documented fact that active children are more likely to become active adults, so children that participate in sport are more likely to lead a healthy life. This combined with the physical, emotional and social development they get also makes children more likely to be successful academically. So whether your child becomes the next Johnny Wilkinson or simply go on to be a happy and healthy person, the benefits to them playing sport are endless.