Youth sports have many benefits

Youth sports have many benefits

Cassie Epstein , Reporter

There are many benefits for youth to be on a competitive athletic team. Competitive sports teams are like families. They are where players make lifelong friends, learn how to interact in a large group, and develop leadership skills. In order to do their best, athletes eat healthy foods and develop a healthy lifestyle, so they are in good physical condition to compete.

Sports related injuries are a big problem for competitive athletes.  According to Dr. Paul Stricker of La Jolla, “Stress fractures, torn ligaments, and tendinitis once commonly associated with adults in rigorous training disciplines now are frequent complaints of children because of high-intensity practices and competition.”  Out of approximately 30 million children playing competitive sports, four million have sports-related injuries each year. Not all coaches limit play for injured athletes.

There is always a chance for injuries when playing a sport; however, there are benefits to playing too. Marika Lingholm Ph.D. said, “Kids today need to move more, and being on a team or involved in a sport is a great way to stay healthy.” Athletes are building muscle tone and improving their skills. They are doing good things for their bodies. Childhood obesity is a major problem, and it is clear that being involved in a sport is a great way to stay active and in good shape.  

Competitive sports are plagued by coaches and parents who want their teams to win at all costs. Kids are caught in the middle. They are under pressure to win and their practice schedules are so long that kids give up almost all of their family time. Kids have no spare time to participate in other activities. Coaches and parents need to remember that young athletes are not professionals and treat them like they are kids.

Good coaches point out mistakes and bad techniques, and young athletes must learn to take constructive criticism in order to improve. According to Coach Randy Jones, “You cannot take it personally.” Good coaches help athletes improve their skills and enhance their self-esteem. The best coaches and parents inspire their athletes.

Highly competitive sports teams aren’t for everybody.  Young competitive athletes need to be reminded that often they will face teams as good or better than theirs. They need to learn how to win and lose gracefully. Sports teams are a great place to make lifelong friends. Players will spend many hours together, not only playing the sport, but traveling to games and participating in team bonding activities. Athletes need to stay in great shape and they need to remember that much of their time will be devoted towards their sports. If a young athlete wants to be on a competitive sports team they need to understand that the team will be a priority over all other activities. Not all players are willing to make these sacrifices; however, for those who do, the rewards can last a lifetime.