The Top 10 Not-so-Obvious Lessons Sports Teach Our Kids
It's not always about winning.
“It’s not always about winning.”
You probably have memories of your parents or teachers saying this to you. When we were kids, it was easy to dismiss it as something adults just said to make us feel better when we lost a game.
Now, as adults, we know they were actually right. Michael Jordan, one of the greatest athletes of all time, once said, “I’ve failed over and over and over in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Participation in sports teaches us many things. Some lessons are obvious, like sportsmanship, how to work as a team, and how staying active supports a healthy lifestyle. There are also many not-so-obvious lessons that benefit children later in life.
Here are the top 10 not-so-obvious things sports teach us how to do.
- Make decisions. Whether a sport moves fast or slow, we are forced to make many decisions during a game or match. Often, these decisions need to be calculated and made quickly. Decision-making is a crucial skill that will prove helpful in life and the workplace.
- Lead others. Playing on a team offers the perfect opportunity to learn how to lead others, whether while serving as a captain or simply guiding and motivating our teammates. This setting also teaches us when it’s appropriate to lead and when it’s more appropriate to follow.
- Trust others. The ability to place trust in others is critical in the workplace, especially when serving in management roles. Many managers struggle with this skill. When playing on a team, we have no choice but to rely on others to help us achieve our collective goals. In sports, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
- Follow rules. Each sport has a specific set of rules that must be followed. As we learn the rules, we naturally begin to follow them. Our coaches and the officials help ensure we follow the rules, which teaches us to not only respect the rules of the game but to respect those in authority.
- Manage pressure. During childhood, sports usually present us with our first high-pressure situations. Learning how to overcome the stress and emotions that occur during competition while we are young can help us manage similar situations later in life.
- Be willing to grow. We all know that practice makes perfect. We learn early on that we can get better at something the more we practice. By learning this as children, it helps us to be more growth-minded as adults.
- Take risks. Should we take that buzzer-beater shot or not? Through sports, we not only learn how to make decisions, but we learn how to take risks. We also learn that sometimes those risks will pay off and sometimes they might not. Half the battle is being willing to take the risk.
- Make sacrifices. Getting better at our sport of choice requires discipline, commitment, and sacrifice. We learn that we might have to miss out on that birthday party for practice or a game. Sports help us learn the art of prioritization.
- Accept feedback. The best coaches know how to push us to do our best. Thanks to their guidance, we learn how to receive and act upon constructive feedback.
- Never give up. Grit. Perseverance. Determination. These lessons cannot be learned from a textbook. They must be learned through experience. The challenges we face on the field or court teach us to never give up.
These lessons come to life at Excel Sports Camps. Located in Newtown Square on the campus of the Episcopal Academy, Excel camps empower kids to compete, learn, and achieve at the highest level. Excel does more than promote mastery in a skill area – it forges leaders. Players of all ages grow in mind, body, and character through gaining critical leadership skills, self-confidence, a love of learning, and an appreciation for sportsmanship and teamwork.
Photographs courtesy of Excel Sports Camps.