Being involved in team sports can build valuable skills and attitudes that will last your child a life time. The team environment is a powerful medium for learning and, through it, your child can develop and practise a range of personal, social and cognitive skills.
Team sports are all about working with others and relying on them to support you. The very word, TEAM, implies cooperation, sharing and communicating to achieve a common goal. It’s all about the value of being involved.
Often in the media, so called individual stars seem to emerge from high profile sporting teams. However, your child playing at a school or club level, learns very quickly that one person cannot play a team sport alone. As the cliché says “There is no ‘i’ in team! Players rely on each other, just as people do in all aspects of life, from education to the workplace. Pulling together to give the best performance not necessarily winning at all costs is a transferable skill for life.
Being involved in team sports reinforces important personal, family and school values. A child learns very quickly that by following rules, everyone wins. The concept of fair play and the sense of justice becomes inherent in team engagement. Accepting the umpire’s decision is not always easy and can involve both positive and negative experiences. It is the ability to bounce back that defines a strong team.
Encourage your child to try a number of team sports in the early years to find out what they like, what they are good at and where they can achieve. Many sports now have training and recruitment programs that build as the child grows.
Engagement in a sporting team has the potential to keep your child staying active or in educational terms, you could say ‘fit for life.’ The habits of training where repetition and technique refinement are the focus, teach your child persistence and resilience. These strengths can be transferred to other tasks like school work and friendship disruptions. So being involved in team sports allows your child to engage, as they do in life, as physical-social beings. The team environment offers a wide range of learning contexts and opportunities for developing interpersonal and collaborative skills, good communication and decision-making skills.
Psychologists have for some time talked about resilience as a buzz word. Resilience is not a passing phase. It needs to be a part of the DNA of your child. Playing in a team builds the necessary chemistry by reinforcing key skills over and over again: Set a goal. Work together to achieve it. Play your part. Listen and take instructions and advice from others especially your coach or teacher. When you get knocked down, get back up and try again. When you succeed, or win, celebrate the achievement together, in good grace.
Achievement creates a sense of self-worth. A sporting team is a social organism. The players are at the core but the team cannot be sustained without parental support. With the size of families becoming smaller, parents have the opportunity to become involved in coaching and supporting players.
The ‘ugly face’ of parenting on the sidelines hurling abuse or becoming aggressive often gets more attention than the thousands of parents who quietly model the qualities of self-discipline, commitment, making friendships and community connections away from the digital devices that are so pervasive in our world.
Minds and bodies work together. The old adage – healthy bodies, healthy minds – remains as true today as ever. Being active for life is a message, parents send to their children from the earliest age.
Long-term studies show that increases in physical activity and the development of physical fitness through team sports has been linked to improved academic performance and brain functions, such as attention and memory. These brain functions are the foundation for learning. There is a clear positive correlation between physical activity and the ability to reason quickly, think abstractly and verbal fluency. (Singh-Manoux et.al, 2005).
Within the secondary school setting, being part of a team creates a sense of belonging and pride that lasts well beyond graduation. As in life, the more you put into something, the more you get out of it. Help your child find a team sport that will keep them active for life.
Diana P Chambers Curriculum Leader Physical Education at Brigidine College Indooroopilly
Brigidine College is a Catholic girls’ secondary college. Health and Physical Education is an integral part of the curriculum. In addition, over 16 co-curricular team sports are on offer to engage and extend all students.
This article was published in Issue 20 of our print magazine, February/March 2017.