Organized, well-structured youth sports and on-going physical activities can provide many benefits for children and adolescents. Positive experiences that sports and an active lifestyle bring play an important role in a young person’s life.

Photo of young baseball player sliding into second base.

At University of Missouri Health Care, our adolescent medicine team encourages all children to participate in sports or other regular physical activity. Physical exercise is good for the mind, body and spirit. Team sports help teach adolescents accountability, dedication, leadership and other skills.

Many athletes do better academically

Playing a sport requires a lot of time and energy. Some people may think this would distract student-athletes from schoolwork. However, the opposite is true. Sports require memorization, repetition and learning — skillsets that are directly relevant to class work. Also, the determination and goal-setting skills a sport requires can be transferred to the classroom.

Sports teach teamwork and problem-solving skills

Fighting for a common goal with a group of players and coaches teaches you how to build teamwork and effectively communicate to solve problems. This experience is helpful when encountering problems at work or at home.

Physical health benefits of sports

Clearly, sports can help you reach your fitness goals and maintain a healthy weight. However, they also encourage healthy decision-making such as not smoking and not drinking. Sports also have hidden health benefits such as lowering the chance of osteoporosis or breast cancer later in life.

Sports boost self-esteem

Watching your hard work pay off and achieving your goals develops self-confidence. Achieving a sport or fitness goal encourages you to achieve other goals you set. This is a rewarding and exciting learning process.

Reduce pressure and stress with sports

Exercising is a natural way to loosen up and let go of stress. You can also make new friends who can be there for you as a support system. When you feel under pressure or stressed, call up a teammate, head to the gym to talk and play it out.