• Playing sports can benefit kids in more ways than one.
  • It promotes regular physical activity and encourages an early appreciation for exercise that’ll likely carry through adulthood.
  • Playing sports also helps to develop/improve motor and cognitive skills.
  • In addition, it teaches teamwork and resilience, important life skills.
  • Finally, it helps kids make friends and develop their social skills.

Growing up, my brother and I were both very active (and yes, our parents were very busy). I played soccer, basketball, and tennis, and even danced for a while. Meanwhile, my brother also played soccer, basketball, and tennis, as well as baseball and track. Needless to say, we were practicing, playing in a game, or performing year-round. And we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

While it’s important that kids don’t overwork themselves, devote too much time to an activity, or continue to engage in an activity that they simply don’t like, playing sports is generally great for them. Not only did I meet some of my best friends through spots (friends I still talk to today) and have a blast at all of my games, but I grew up happy and healthy. 

As long as kids aren’t overexerting themselves and truly enjoy their sport, then they’re benefitting in more ways than one. Here are 6 benefits playing sports can have on a child’s health.

1) It promotes regular physical activity.

The most obvious benefit of all is exercise. Kids and adolescents aged 6 and above need at least an hour of physical activity a day. This hour can easily be accomplished by going outside and kicking around a soccer ball or going to softball practice. 

2) It fosters a healthy relationship with exercise for years to come.

Adults who played sports as kids prove to be more active than those who did not participate in sports at a young age. So not only is developing an early appreciation for sports beneficial to children but to their future adult selves. They will likely carry this love with them throughout their entire lives.

3) It develops and improves motor and cognitive skills.

With every sport, there’s a goal to work toward—score a goal, stick the landing, hit the ball out of the park—as well as certain skills to learn, such as dribbling or pointing toes. As kids focus on these goals and these abilities, they develop and improve their motor as well as their cognitive skills.

4) It teaches the concept and importance of teamwork.

Kids don’t usually like to share—especially only children. But they have to learn the importance of cooperation, teamwork, and collaboration. And one of the easiest, most painless ways to do so is through sports. There may be some tears and some bickering along the way — “Hey that’s my ball!” — but kids will come to realize how important working together is. And they’ll carry this lesson with them through life.

5) It builds resilience.

“Playing competitive sports can also help in learning how to bounce back from disappointments, like losing a game,” says Emily Simonian, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Head of Clinical Learning at Thriveworks. “These skills, like building resilience and a positive attitude toward others, aren’t exclusive to sports and can be applied in other areas of life.”

6) It helps kids make friends and develop social skills.

Like I said earlier, I made my lifelong friends at some of my first-ever sports practices. Sports expose kids to other kids of the same age group and encourage interaction among them. What typically results are friendships, social skills, and, in turn, a happy child. 

If you need a little help getting started, you can find the right sport for your child and a place for them to play here!