With the pressure to excel in academics and many extracurricular activities, some parents might wonder if it's worth it to have their child participate in sports. Here are some pros and cons of early childhood sports participation that may help you make a decision.
The pros of early childhood sports participation
Early childhood sports participation offers many benefits, perhaps some of the most important being physical skill development. Children who participate in sports as toddlers or preschoolers are able to learn coordination and motor skills early on, making it easier for them to play more advanced sports down the road. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, athletes often do specific exercises to develop fast twitch and slow twitch muscles which encourage the development of the two types of muscle tissues. Sports can help kids to develop and strengthen both types of muscles.
Furthermore, these activities help them collaborate with their peers, develop teamwork skills, and understand rules and regulations from an early age. As young athletes grow into adulthood, they can use these experiences to thrive in both academic and social settings. Participating in sports at a young age creates a strong foundation for future success by teaching discipline and respect for oneself and others. A high-quality early childhood sports program can be enriching and profoundly impact a child's life. If you want to know more pros on why early childhood sports participation is important, check out Love to Know.
The cons of early childhood sports participation
Participating in early childhood sports can offer many benefits such as improved physical health, teamwork skills, and discipline. However, such participation also carries some of its own risks that parents should consider before allowing their children to participate. For example, the risk of injury is much higher in younger athletes whose growing bodies are not used to the intensity and contact that often come with sports. According to the National Center for Sports Safety, over 3 million children under the age of 14 incur some type of injury as a result of sports. These may occur as a result of practice or a competitive event. Broken bones can result from direct impact of a ball or a fall during competition. Injuries such as tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) occur more and more in young athletes due to the rigors of practice and competitions.
There is also the danger of emotional stress due to the pressure these young athletes may experience from coaches, teammates, or even themselves to perform well on an ongoing basis. Lastly, burnout can occur when a child’s commitment level exceeds his or her age group’s expectations. They may become overwhelmed by performing at such a high level for an extended period of time with little chance to take breaks from this lifestyle. These cons must be carefully weighed against the potential positives of early sports involvement for each individual child. If you want to learn more about the psychological aspect of early childhood sports participation, check out Psychology Today.
It is important to weigh the pros and cons of early childhood sports participation before making a decision.
Before enrolling your child in a sport, it is important to consider the possible benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, getting involved in sports at an early age has been found to have both physical and psychological advantages for a child. Participation can help build skills such as endurance, agility and strength. Moreover, the social aspects of playing on a team can foster good communication skills, leadership abilities and greater confidence. On the other hand, Physical and mental burnout is possible if parents or coaches push children too hard.
There is also the concern that some competitive sports do not teach proper respect for opponents and may emphasize winning at all costs. It is essential that careful thought goes into weighing the pros and cons before making a decision with regard to early childhood sports participation. Assessing each situation in light of family values, goals, resources and individual talents should be done before reaching any conclusion.
Some tips for parents considering early childhood sports participation
When parents consider enrolling their child in an early childhood sport, there are key tips to keep in mind. First, it is important to talk to your child's doctor and get their opinion on the subject. This can help parents assess whether sports participation is appropriate for their child at this time and if there may be any risks involved. Additionally, it is important to observe your child’s interest in sport-- do they love running around? Are they excited by the idea of competing with other children?
Parents should also ensure that they choose a sport that is developmentally suitable for their child by considering past experiences and abilities. Following these steps can prepare you and your family as your explore sports options. It can also create opportunities to introduce physical activity into everyday life while teaching discipline, self-confidence, respect, and teamwork-- all of which can carry into adulthood. If you want a complete guide for youth sports participation, click here.
Early childhood sports participation can have many pros and cons, so it is important for parents to weigh these before making a decision. Some tips for parents considering early childhood sports participation include talking to their child's doctor, observing their child's interest in sport, and choosing a sport that is age-appropriate. If you want to learn more about health and fitness for your kids, join our academy at YFN!
Frazier, Karen. "Benefits of Kids Playing Sports." LoveToKnow Kids, www.kids.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Benefits_of_Kids_Playing_Sports.
Jersey Watch. "A Guide to Youth Sports Participation." Jersey Watch, 10 Jan. 2020, www.jerseywatch.com/blog/guide-to-youth-sports-participation/.
Lindholm, Marika. "The Pros and Cons of Youth Sports: They Aren't Only Physical." Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers LLC, 17 May 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/more-women-s-work/201705/the-pros-and-cons-youth-sports-aren-t-only-physical.
Penney, Stacy. “Fast Twitch Vs. Slow Twitch Muscles.” NASM Blog, 2 May 2018, https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/fast-twitch-vs-slow-twitch.
Westminster, Lucie. "The Disadvantages of Children in Sports." Healthy Living, 28 Feb. 2018, https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/disadvantages-children-sports-1115.html.