Sports & Games

Lessons kids learn from team sports

Written by Dr. Tejal Kanwar
Published: December 12, 2022
Gynecologist and obstetrician with expertise in Adolescent Health. Founder of Kleinetics Fitness, a leading tech enabled kids fitness program. Winner of the best physical education and sports education program by The Indian Education Awards 2020.

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Individual success could also be limited in a team but with the help of supporting team members, the combined achievements can be far greater. The talented Michael Jordan quotes “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

Working together on a common goal and further, working to assist others in the team to succeed is in the true sense real teamwork destined to win.

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” – Napoleon Hill

It was Cricket (a team sport) which shaped Indra Nooyi to become the business leader she is today. Playing in particular positions, all team members have a role to play and in the game of Cricket or any other team sport, the player has to think about the team first rather than individual goals. Ranked as one of the most powerful businesswomen, she gives a lot of credit to team sports like Cricket and baseball for learning lessons on the field which applies in the corporate world as well.

Team sports can teach very valuable lessons to kids especially playing on the emotional muscle. When a child is able to understand the effectiveness of working in a group, he or she is already on the path towards emotional muscle building. This important lesson will work wonders for a child who is thrown into adulthood and is then taken through the journey of life and work. In the corporate world, this child would have already learnt to navigate and cooperate with fellow colleagues for the success of the organisation.

Apart from this, kids can learn a variety of life lessons while playing on the team. Some of these are listed below:

1. Sense of belonging

Playing in team sports can hugely help your introverted child bond with peers and lead to lifelong friendships. Getting involved in a sport also gives kids another social circle outside of school.

2. Shared experiences

This feeling develops when there is no competition among those in the same team, only a desire to do well as a group. According to psychologists, this is often a very healthy mentality. Team sports are also a lot of fun and entertaining for the community at large and of course for the family. These are shared experiences and are of different types. It is great for introverts – it helps them to make friends and open up. In individual sports, everyone has to perform independently of the other people around them. They depend only on their own preparation and don’t need to make an effort to bond with others. However, team sports offer an individual to share experiences, unlike individual sports.

3. Respect for authority

Taking instructions from coaches, being disciplined, punctual and following the rules of the sport goes a long way in shaping the child. Sports teach plenty of things which parents want their kids to imbibe. That dose of discipline and respecting elders, teachers and instructors and in fact your opponents. Sign them up for team sports or maybe individual sports and see the changes in your child. We see that in many sports, mostly all, the players are imposed a penalty if they foul or cheat. Expressing discontent in a non-aggressive manner and learning to accept the decisions of a referee go a long way in building resilience in an athlete. They need to respect the decisions of the referees and the opinions of other players into account and learn to avoid confrontation. Losing gracefully may be a big learning – losing honourably to a worthy opponent should be inculcated in every child through the medium of sports.

4. Regulating emotions

Channelling emotions rightly can be tough for youngsters. Playing team sports can ensure that your child is better equipped to tackle a whole range of other life challenges throughout.

5. Resilience

With the highs, the lows, the wins and subsequently the losses, playing sports can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. According to a study, children who play sports frequently are more “psychologically resilient.” This isn’t surprising considering that sports educate kids to pick themselves up after a tough fight or to keep their heads high after suffering a crushing defeat before returning the next week. In sports, it’s all about growing from failure and returning back stronger. Kids should master these abilities as soon as possible. Overall, practising sports can help kids develop into well-rounded, mature people because of its psychological and social benefits.

6. Training & practising self-control

Learning self-control early in life goes a long way in shaping a child’s personality and improving their confidence as well.This is a trait which can be developed in both team and individual sports.

7. Self-esteem

Children’s self-esteem can be positively impacted by their interactions with coaches and teammates as well as by their parents’ support and encouragement. The challenge, though, is to prevent their self-esteem from being affected by success or failure. So rather than asking “Did you win?” the next time your youngster plays a game, ask “How it went?” Or even better, “Did you like it?” A key lesson in sports is that patience is required for perfection if that’s what your child’s end goal is. When children participate in sports and have great experiences, they continue to do so as they become older, which improves their academic achievement as well. The kids learn how to be helpful and less self-centred because they are assisting each other as a team. They are instructed to think about the team rather than just themselves. Many sports, including basketball and football, where players struggle to score goals for themselves and lose, teach these concepts. Once they realise it was a mistake, they start working for the team rather than themselves. Children must be taught how to work as a team by both coaches and parents.

So, if you want your children to succeed as an adult in their life ahead, make sure you motivate them to be a part of a team sport for it’s a blessing for every growing child out there!

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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