I love sports. I have been involved in sports my whole life – especially fencing. This was a sport I was dedicated to and competed in throughout my youth. As an adult, I still enjoy the sport, which is why I’m so heavily enmeshed in it to this day.
I believe strongly that every child needs to be involved in some sort of competitive sport. Athletics are the building blocks of your child’s personality and strength. It helps your child develop good habits, a healthy lifestyle, and discipline. Sports will give your child the tools they need to become aware of their bodies and minds.
Sports require that the participant exhibits tremendous discipline in so many areas of their life: You have to eat healthy, juggle your schedule, manage your time effectively, prioritize your responsibilities, and commit to practices. It teaches us to be efficient and responsible.
For that reason, I recommend that every child be involved in a competitive sport.
When chatting with other parents about sports, I’ve often heard them comment that while their children love to play, “they don’t want to compete – and we don’t want to push them.” Perhaps they think that competitive sports are for athletes who want to achieve some significant result or notch their belt with all their wins. Or perhaps they think that competitive sports are only for those who seem to possess a natural ability in the field.
The reality is that your child doesn’t need to be a natural or ambitious athlete to enjoy competition. Competition will enhance your child’s joy of the sport, while learning important life lessons that can shape him or her into a mature, responsible person.
Competitive sports are not so different than taking a test or learning a subject in school. Your child learns the material, does the homework, prepares for the tests, and then takes the exam. Sometimes students feeling a little behind or wanting a little more confidence may take on a tutor. The same is true in sports: the student learns the sport, studies it through drills and practices, maybe uses a coach for extra private help, and participates in a competition or match.
Just like school, the competition in the sporting arena allows the participant to measure him or herself against their peers. It will help them understand where their strengths lie, what their weaknesses are, what they need to work on, what can be improved, etc. Just like testing, the competition in sports will push players to put in the effort needed to master the subject. Competition will help the performer/player to create goals and push themselves to achieve those goals and excel in the sport.
Just to look at fencing, when we see our students go into the competition circuit, their whole attitude towards the sport completely changes. They are motivated to train and practice at home in addition to the classes or private sessions, they start creating their own targeted goals, and they experience a huge satisfaction once they see their own personal progression.
Perhaps the one big difference between school tests and sporting competitions is that no kid will EVER call a test in school “fun”! But many participants in a weekend-long competition will often extol the highlights and enjoyment of the event.
But let’s take this to a deeper level. When your kids finish school and go out into the real world, they’re going find out how competitive life really is. If you shelter your child from competition, they won’t have the tools they need to be able to handle it. Being involved in a competitive sport will prepare your child so that they won’t be shocked the first time they encounter competition in life. Through competitive sports, your child will learn how to
Learn from losses but not dwell on them
Keep on trying
And treat each challenge as a new opportunity
It is our responsibility as parents to ensure that our kids get proper and adequate development in all areas of their life. We focus so much on education – which is extremely important – but there’s so many other aspects to growing up as well. Competitive sports are a great way to create a healthy lifestyle and encourage discipline for your child.
In upcoming posts, I will revisit this theme and explore how to use competition as a learning tool for your child and how to prepare your child to their first competition.