Important Life Lessons Children Learn Through Sports

If you have kids in organized sports I'm sure you'll agree they have learned these lessons and many others besides making lasting friendships with teammates and invaluable memories of childhood.
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My daughter has always been very active in extracurricular activities. From a very young age she enjoyed things like ice skating, tennis, softball and cheer. As she got older she added things to that list and lost interest in a few. The fact is she is very lucky to have the opportunity to try all these things out and as she gets bigger and more skilled can decide what her favorites are and where she wants to focus her attention. I'm happy that she's always been one to participate and although the cost of all of these activities may be pricey it has taught her some important things that will be useful long into adulthood.

Organized sports have taught her:

1. One step at a time
She has spent countless hours at the ice rink trying to master a skill that may look very insignificant on its own but is actually the base for a much harder complex skill. She's learned to take one step at a time and to build on the foundation of what she learned previously to achieve future goals

2. Teamwork
It takes everyone. She has spent many years on softball teams and cheer squads. She has seen first hand how an entire competition can be jeopardized if everyone isn't working together for the same end goal.

3. Don't give up
Gigi's cheer squad was the heavy underdog going into a competition a few years back. The parents including me were all sure we wouldn't place but the girls were not aware of their disadvantage. They practiced two and a half hours a night, three to four nights a week before competition came and went in with a confidence that was undeniable. They took first place and won a bid to state. The memories and lessons they learned during that season are some they won't ever forget. Even when the odds are against you things can turn around.

4. Respect
Coaches, judges, other athletes and competitors, they all deserve the same level of respect. My daughter has learned that a bad attitude to any of the above will lead to an unsuccessful day competing. She has always learned that authority deserves her respect even if she may disagree with their view.

5. Hard work
People have said many times oh poor Gigi, she's always at the rink practicing or playing softball or cheering, etc . Well I never look at it as a negative. She is learning that to be successful at anything it takes your all. No one succeeds by just trying a little bit, you have to make sacrifices and spend time that may otherwise be spent playing around doing repetitive practice to improve your skills. As an adult that kind of learned discipline can be the difference in job opportunities and other successes.

6. Friendship
She has learned that sometimes you and your closest friends may be vying for the same goal or position. It isn't necessarily as important who gets the victory but more how you handle the defeat or victory graciously. No one likes a spoil sport or a bad winner especially in the adult form.

7. Sometimes life's not fair
There are times when Gigi has practiced so very hard for an event and has every move down perfect. She can go out and skate a perfect routine and there is just something a judge didn't love. She's learned to take those loses with a grain of salt and move on. Though it took awhile for her to be ok with it she has learned no matter how perfect you do something it might just not be your day. That will make adulthood a lot easier having that lesson under her belt young.

8. The value of a dollar.
I often remind Gigi that it's a privilege to be able to participate in all these activities. I let her know that if she is no longer interested in giving her all to any of her extra curriculars that we will end the instruction. I make it clear that it is wasteful to spend money on classes and lessons if she isn't going to commit to being the best she can be. I have never given her the option of missing classes for excuses like being tired or wanting to attend a party or play instead. If you sign up then you attend. When you're an adult it won't be an option to show up for work or other commitments.

If you have kids in organized sports I'm sure you'll agree they have learned these lessons and many others besides making lasting friendships with teammates and invaluable memories of childhood.

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