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Game Time: Joining Youth Sports

As parents, all we want is to help our children become the best versions of themselves. We want them to develop their strengths: both physical and mental. Signing them up for youth sports is a commitment to just that. You'll find that sports participation will play a significant role in your child's growth.  

Redefining 'Sports'

Let's clarify one thing: when we say 'sports,' that doesn't just include things like football and basketball (or whatever may come to mind first). Broaden that definition to include any physical activity. Think performing arts: dance, ballet, music… Think hiking clubs, swimming leagues, and playtime. 

Just know: Regardless of your child's preferences or skillset, there is a physical activity out there for them. 

Breaking the Stigma

Many parents are hesitant to enroll their children in sports teams due to the risks. Of course, the last thing we want to think about is a broken bone or concussion. But the fact of the matter is that the rewards that are seen from youth sports engagement far outweigh the risks. 

Shifting our focus to the rewards can help our children reach various health milestones. There are many lifestyle benefits that sports offer for our children: both physical and mental.

Physical Development 

Let's start with the physical benefits that sports offer.

We know that physical activity plays a significant role in our children's health. But how much do they need? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a set amount of physical activity for adolescents depending on their development stage: 

  • Infants: 30 minutes throughout the day 
  • Toddlers: 3 or more hours daily (approximately 15 minutes every waking hour)
  • Elementary and middle school age: 60 minutes (+ muscle- and bone-building activities 3x weekly)
  • Teens: 60 minutes daily (+ muscle- and bone-building activities 3x weekly)

Engagement in sports provides settings for your child to meet these milestones, promote physical strength, and fight many chronic illnesses.

Mental and Social Development

Beyond physical benefits, children who participate in sports teams in particular, see socialization benefits that become lifelong assets. They offer settings to learn things they can't simply watch, read, or be told.

Sports teams provide an environment where our children can engage with peers while learning how to be part of a team. Whether working together or independently, sports give adolescents chances to work to achieve a goal actively. In addition, they offer the opportunity to learn how to work with others (whether they like them or not). They show them not only how to be led but to lead themselves. 

These skills follow youth into adulthood, providing transferable skills that enhance relationships, careers, and personal development. 

Getting Started

If you're considering enrolling your child in a youth sports program, we have some resources available that may help. Greg Canty, MD, joined us to answer many of the questions parents of young athletes may have and can propel you over the hurdles along the way:

Specialty Toolkit: Raising a Young Athlete 

This toolkit is great for any family with a child actively participating in sports or is considering participating in sports. Dr. Canty describes the many benefits of sports and physical activities and how parents and families can support young athletes.

Specialty Toolkit: Common Sports Injuries 

This insightful toolkit is perfect for any young athlete's family to learn more about the complexities and injuries that can come from being active. Dr. Canty describes in detail a number of common sports injuries, from the ankle to upper extremities. 

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