Soccer, or football, is the most popular sport in the world. Because it is a "no contact" sport, players of all sizes and shapes can do equally well. Youth soccer teams are a great option for kids who may not have experience with athletics, but who want to participate in team sports. Participating on a youth soccer team is beneficial to young people for a myriad of reasons; specifically providing psychological, social, and health benefits that will enhance a child's life for years to come.
Benefits of Youth Soccer
Enhanced Self Esteem: Participating in youth soccer is a great way for a child to work on a skill and see improvement. Hearing "Good game! Great job!" and other positive feedback given by parents, coaches, and teammates can increase self esteem. Soccer specifically, as opposed to American football, is a sport at which a child of any size can participate and excel! Tonia Caselman, Ph.D. points out that this can especially benefit girls, teaching them confidence and proving that they're valued for more than just their looks.
Discipline: Kids who participate in team sports are more likely to be hard working students and employees. Soccer teams teach children to be disciplined during practice, focus on a task, and have patience when the game gets frustrating. As a child follows through on their commitment to a team, they learn dedication and hard work. Attending practices and seeing improvement teaches a child that "practice makes perfect," which can carry through to their future school and employment endeavors.
Coping: Handling disappointment is part of playing competitive sports. Youth soccer teams assist children in developing emotional control, handling disappointment that comes with loss, and redirecting negative feelings into positive ones.
Respect: "There is no 'I' in team!" Whether it's a teammate, an opposing team, or a referee, children learn to respect others, and to be gracious in victory or defeat. Good sportsmanship teaches young people to include others, and handle conflict without violence. Children learn the vital skill of getting along with and encouraging teammates they might not necessarily like. Team sports bring together kids from various religious and cultural backgrounds, which provides a valuable learning experience and increase tolerance.
Health Benefits: Playing youth soccer can benefit children's health now, and set them on a path of physical activity that will be beneficial throughout their lives. According to the American Heart Association, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. Overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults, increasing their risk for diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart attack, poor cholesterol and high blood pressure. Playing soccer is great aerobic exercise, and it improves stamina, endurance, and flexibility.
Soccer can be played almost anywhere. You don't need a field or fancy equipment. Pele', the greatest soccer player ever, played with grapefruits on the beaches of Brazil. If you want your child to reap the benefits of team sports you can sign them up for a local club, organized competitions, or junior soccer clinics. A great resource for parents interested in youth soccer teams is Youthletic , where you can find information about local recreational leagues for your child.