I am always astonished at how many coaches, teachers and parents display large amounts of frustration while children are playing sports.
One of the greatest unit’s I ever took at university was “Motor Learning” which covered how human beings learn skills.
I remember our lecturer would consistently drill into our heads “the more mistakes made early in learning, the better end result”.
In team sports children have one of the greatest opportunities to not only learn how to throw, kick or shoot a ball but they also have the opportunity to undertake social and emotional learning.
Young team environments have the potential to turn into the battle ground of individuals.
It is not unusual in team sports to find the attention seeking child who will try to dominate the environment and make his/her presence felt. On the other end of the spectrum there are others who were like me, the quieter child, who would often try to go unnoticed in the group because of a lack of confidence.
After a recent survey JD Coaching conducted on children’s wellbeing, it was found that 40% of children in primary schools have experienced either bullying, anxiety and other related mental health issues.
Team sports provide the perfect opportunity for young children to not only improve in sports but also mature and grow as individuals as they learn how to control emotions and interact respectfully with their peers.
The power to have a positive influence on these issues is found in our younger generations, this is why greater education in something enjoyable like sports needs to take place.
During my 16 years experience in team sports, I have come to understand the very important concept of player relationships.
Once children have learnt social and emotional skills, it is easier for them to interact and make friends with people on their team. Having been a slow learner as a young student, I realised that as my physical, social and emotional skills increased my confidence grew.
Carl Roger’s one of the most famous psychologists of all time revolutionised counselling when he developed the well-known Person Centred Therapy. This whole approach is based off empathetic, positive and understanding relationships between counsellor and patient.
I have found the relationships between players in a healthy team environment very similar. The power of positivity and understanding in team sports is the difference between a “good” and “great” team.
If children can learn to conduct understanding and positive team relationships, they will take this skill into future walks of life.
The ripple effect
The degree to which team sports can improve a child’s wellbeing is incredible and many haven’t fully tapped into its full potential. Possibly the greatest source to its power, is the environments ability to inspire children to empower their peers.
I believe there is nothing more uplifting for a child than when their peers encourage or recognise their achievements. As mentioned earlier on about Carl Rogers, empathy and understanding is a powerful tool to creating effective relationships in counselling.
This is the same for teams, children understand children better than adults. With guidance we can educate children on how to turn team environments into an empowering place where everyone feels special and equal with each other.
The great ancient Greek philosopher Plato stated “Good actions give strength to us to inspire good actions in others”.
I live by this quote as I believe we can empower and inspire greatness in others.
Dive deeper into the potential for team sports to boost children’s wellbeing.
Do your kids play a team sport? Do you see the benefits? Share in the comments below.