The Impact of Sports on Youth Development

Sports can help with the social and physical development of children, notes the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's website, as these activities get children exercising and interacting with their peers 1. At the same time, parents must prevent their children from overexerting or putting too much pressure on themselves, since these can have adverse outcomes. Help your children get the most out of participation in sports by showing support and ensuring that they enjoy the sports that they play.

Developing Motor Skills

When preschool-aged children participate in sports, it can help with the development of their motor skills. Avoid focusing on the results of this participation at this age and make having fun the main goal. Playing soccer or joining a gymnastics club aids in the development of fundamental motor skills like walking and running, which are good for long-term development. This also provides a foundation for further participation in sport as the child ages, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics' website 5.

Physical Activity at a Young Age

Sports make it easier for children to get the exercise that they need. Parents should make sure that their children enroll in age-appropriate activities, since kids under the age of 5 might find it difficult to play within the structured rules of a sport, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Once children reach the age of 6, however, they can appreciate the structure of sports like soccer and baseball.The exercise that children get at this age can create a base for a healthy future 3.

Over-Participation in Sports

Participating in too many sports can have an adverse effect on a teen's development, according to an article published in Archives of Disease in Childhood journal. The article surveyed 1,245 individuals between the ages of 16 and 20 in Switzerland and broke sports participation into four categories: low (0 to 3.5 hours per week), average (3.6 to 10.5 hours per week), high (10.6 to 17.5 hours per week) and very high (more than 17.5 hours per week). The result show that youths in the low and very high categories have the highest risk of becoming sick or injured. Those who played about 14 hours of sports weekly had the best chance of staying healthy.

Some children might use sports to establish their identity, especially if they excel at a certain sports from a young age. When these children fail to live up to expectations, it can hurt their self-confidence and lead to developmental problems, notes 5. Parents should help their children to understand that not everything will always go their way in sports and to learn from their failures, as this can help them to avoid excessive stress.