Last weekend, while watching my youngest daughter play in her final basketball game of the season, I found myself reflecting on the many ways sport participation has enhanced her life and helped her grow. She plays basketball, soccer, volleyball, and tennis for the same good reason many of us enjoy these and other sports… FUN!
She’s never been one to enjoy rigorous training, tough coaches, or fierce competition, and since I’m a firm believer that it’s ‘enjoyment’ that makes us want to stick with an activity or sport, I’ve always encouraged her to play at the level she’s happiest.
Sport can teach us many valuable lessons and gift us with a multitude of skills we’ll use throughout life – at home, at school, at work, and in our communities. When kids engage in active play or sport participation with others, they benefit from opportunities that teach important life lessons and acquire skills they’ll use throughout life.
Do you know any “sore” losers? Are they children or adults?! Sport participation teaches children (and adults) to win and lose with dignity and grace, and to respect themselves, their teammates, their opponents, and coaches and officials.
This is particularly true in tennis where it’s just you and your opponent. You can’t simply leave the game, sit on the sidelines for a rest, or stomp off the court if you’re playing poorly, etc. Not only does tennis teach accountability, it teaches perseverance, discipline, self-control, and composure.
Sport gives kids the opportunity to make mistakes within a supportive environment, to learn from them, and to move forward without dwelling on them.
When children play team sports, they learn to make a valuable contribution to a group while acquiring cooperation and collaboration skills. Being part of a team encourages us, regardless of age, to give our best and to help bring it out in others.
Whether it’s learning to play tennis, write an essay, or deliver a public presentation. Forget the saying “practice makes perfect,” and focus instead on improvement and enjoyment.
I don’t know about you, but I believe we should all do more celebrating. Sometimes our goals and dreams are so big (as are those of our kids) we overlook small milestones, gains and successes. When we redefine success to be about more than simply “winning,” our kids are presented with new learning opportunities and more to feel good about!
Whether your kids play tennis or participate in a game or sport of another genre, we’d love to know how they’ve benefitted. You might enjoy reading this recent post about the physical and mental/psychological health benefits of tennis, or this post about the importance of adequate physical activity for all children. Tweet with us @Tennis_Canada and @Cate_Cameron.