What Are The “Positive” Benefits Of Playing Sports For Kids?

Want to boost your child’s confidence & self-esteem?

The benefits of playing  sports for kids is so much more than simply playing a game. Whether your child is involved in sports on a team or as an individual, the skills that they will learn can have a long-lasting positive effect on who they are as a person and the success they will have in life.

We recently interviewed Stephen Raghoobarsingh, author of “The New Game Plan, Using Sports To Raise Happy & Resilient Kids” where he shared his best confidence building tips and strategies.

(You can listen to the entire interview here)

The benefits of playing sports are more than just the sport itself. The concepts and ideas we are going to talk about today can be carried over into chores, schoolwork and everyday life. Once you understand the categories it can be used in the same way all throughout life. 

benefits of playing sportsWhen it comes to sports we like to break it down into 3 main categories.

Direct Interaction – Which involves the passing between players.

Communication – This includes hand signals between players or calling out in hockey.

Isolation Play Some sports included in this category are baseball, cricket, and curling.

Kids can be comfortable in one category of sports but that doesn’t mean they should stay there. You want to gradually build them up into using all those types of activities.

benefits of playing sports

Take an isolation sport like golf for instance. Instead of playing for yourself only, work together by alternating with the same ball. Try combining the total separate scores together for one group effort score. These small changes turn the normally isolated sport into what we like to call a pseudo team sport. This is a real strategic, non-invasive way of helping children build those skills without changing the sport or activity that they are currently comfortable in.

benefits of playing sportsGet children involved in a variety of sports by allowing them to just enjoy playing the game. Lose the unrealistic expectations that may arise because at this point it has nothing to do with whether they are going to end up playing sports professionally or not. Instead, it is more about their engagement with other people outside of their family unit and themselves. As well as their ability to learn how to overcome the obstacles that may arise. 

The benefits of playing sports are necessary for a child’s social and emotional development. It can help to build those important necessary skills that will carry on into their adult years. We cannot ignore the physical side of sports, of course, however that is where we need to work on teaching them how to compete in a healthy way. One that focuses on improvement versus winning.


benefits of playing sportsWe can begin to do this by understanding the difference between encouragement and praise when it comes to focusing on the child as a person versus their behaviours. Knowing this is critical in terms of creating a healthy mindset for a child. Encouragement with the focus on their behaviors has us saying things like “ Good job, you scored a goal!” Now you may be wondering how is this type of comment damaging? The reason we see this having a damaging effect is that over time the child will start to question; “If I don’t score a goal, does that mean I am not a good player?” Comments like these, although may feel positive at the time end up placing our evaluations and conditions onto the child.

To avoid doing this and adding a whole other level of pressure we can use comments like; “Great job, or good effort” at the end of their game. If you think they were struggling you could ask them,“How did you feel out there today?” Or share the statement of praise by saying, ‘In the last 3 minutes of the game you really worked hard.” 

STRIVING FOR…benefits of playing sports

Understanding the how to praise a child in the right directions feeds into our next idea of; knowing the difference between perfection and excellence. In my sessions with athletes, I always ask “How many of us can be perfect?” – The normal response is, no one raises their hands. Yet in general everyday life, we find ourselves striving for perfection in everything we do. Even though we know it is something we can never achieve. It is like climbing a mountain that never ends because there is no actual peak. We see a lot of this happening with athletes and it often leads to a mental breakdown at some point in their athletic journey.

There is, however, a flipside and that is the positive side of striving for excellence. I will then ask, how many of us can be excellent? All of them or at least the majority will eagerly put up their hands. Excellence takes work but when we understand that we can achieve it, it is not as daunting of a task. We need to encourage that kind of mindset in our kids. Teaching them how to do this for the long haul will remove the benefits of playing sportsfocus of perfection that leads to burnout and sometimes even severe mental breakdowns.


To avoid the mental breakdown we need to teach the positive, I AM messages. Take team sports for instance. The benefits of playing sports with a group of people are seen in the positive messages being learned such as; I AM CONTRIBUTING and I AM CONNECTING. Individualized sports has them thinking; I AM INDEPENDENT and I AM SELF-SUFFICIENT. While pseudo sports bring positive messages such as: I AM COMMUNICATING and I AM PART OF A GROUP.  benefits of playing sports

These I AM messages are critical for the development of self-esteem for more than just sports but also for people who are performing activities that fall under the same categories. This is why we encourage parents to have their kids play in all types of sports rather than just one.

It is not about making parents feel that they don’t know these things. Rather it is about creating an understanding in these areas a bit differently. The benefits of playing sports can be seen in the growth and maturing of our children. As well as carrying on with them as they move forward into healthy, thriving adults.

Want even more tips on how to boost your child’s self esteem? Click here for the complete interview with Stephen Raghoobarsingh, author of “The New Game Plan, Using Sports To Raise Happy & Resilient Kids”.


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