Nothing beats a parent’s pride is an active, healthy developing child. And consequently, every parent tries as much as possible to engage their kids in healthy developmental activities. Among the most popular of such activities is soccer. Although many parents or guardians overlook this sport as just one of the playful activities. Soccer is much more than just a playful undertaking. Besides offering a playful experience for a child, soccer has numerous benefits that contribute to the general well-being and development of the child. Below is an insight (non-exhaustive) to some of the benefits of playing soccer for your young ones.
1. Promotes Fitness
While this might seem like an obvious factor, fitness for children is more often than not taken very lightly with the assumption that kids do not need it as much. On the contrary, fitness from an early age plays an important role in the growth and physical health of a child. Fitness contributes to boosting the immune system and hence warding off opportunistic illnesses like obesity and diabetes. Soccer involves a lot of bodily movements and efforts which help to strengthen core muscles and bones. If you are only planning on letting your child to soccer this guide about Best Indoor Soccer Shoes for Kids might help.
2. Promotes Good Health
According to Aspen Institute’s Project Play, kids with a physically active childhood are less likely to be obese, have higher test scores and have reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Soccer, like any other sport, engages the child in a lot of physical activity. It involves running, jumping among other physical movements. Movement, being one of the 7 principles of health, stimulates the immune and lymphatic system in the body. Which cleanses the body and protects the body from illness-causing bacteria and viruses. Additionally, soccer is a form of exercise which promotes cardiovascular functions as it stimulates the heart to function optimally.
3. Encourages Teamwork
In Meredith Carey’s article, 7 Benefits of Team Sports for Kids from activekids.com, team sports help kids with tolerance for other kids with different personalities and backgrounds hence developing a sense of empathy and working with others to achieve a common goal. This also enables the kids to learn to get along with other even if they do not necessarily like them. In essence, “the working as a team” approach builds the child’s cooperation abilities, making them more productive even outside of the soccer field.
4. Higher Test Scores
It is every parent’s dream that their child is at the top of their class when it comes to school performance. Research shows that kids who have a physically active life are 40% more likely to perform better at school. Physical activity tends to boost the brain’s functionality by stimulating endorphins. This makes them smarter by improving their cognitive abilities. Dawn Coe, Ph.D., FACSM in his article, Exercise, Children and Academic Performance from ASCM’s Fit Society Page (vol. 16, December 2014), and pg. 4-5 implies that habitually active students are more likely to perform better than their less active counterparts. Additionally, studies have shown that after physical activity, the mind is stimulated hence improved cognitive ability and increased concentration span which explains the better performance in classwork.
5. Emotional Stress Relief
I know…it is uncommon and impractical for kids to have stress, right? Wrong. Kids, just like adults may sometimes be emotionally burdened by situations or confrontations from school among their peers or even teachers. Do not underestimate the likelihood of a child to have stress because they are also human beings, well…little human beings at that. Being part of a team and taking part in the physical activity will help the child play out their worries and relieve them of the same. This might be through talking to other team members or the act of playing itself.
6. Reduces Screen Time
Now we all know that excessive hours in front of the screen can be damaging to a child’s physical and mental development. If a child becomes a member of a soccer team, they will hardly have the time to sit down and watch TV or play video games. Being outdoors limits their screen time a big deal. And hence promotes a healthy mental state and keeps them away from bad influence associated with watching TV or playing video games.
7. Time Management Skills
If a child is able to balance his/her activities between playing soccer, class, and family, then it means that they can manage their time imperatively. This is good for you as a parent because you won’t have to be always reminding them of everything that they need to do. Additionally, if they can create time for soccer between home and school, it plays out eventually in their adult life, making them responsible people.
8. Promotes Social Development
It is common for most children to become asocial (note: not antisocial) whereby they only socialize with a few select people; mostly their family. Engaging them in a sport like soccer will help them open up and even become friends with other people. This will improve their social and communication skills because they play in a team.
9/10. Develops Self-confidence and Self-esteem
The thought of knowing that they are a part of something which they can look forward to can nurture a child’s self-confidence and ultimately boost their self-esteem as they are able to play in front of a crowd. The support and applause they get whenever they score a goal or play tactfully will also encourage them to do more. Therefore, if a child can harness this potential through soccer then they can become better persons in the society.
In soccer, a lot of self-discipline is required. Harnessing this from an early age can aid in the development of the child’s personality even into adulthood. The virtues that kids can learn from being part of a team are endless; from respect, teamwork, time management, resilience/endurance, decision making and the ability to follow instructions. All these contribute massively to their general outlook on life and help to improve their personality.
Above all, soccer is fun and can make for some good family bonding time. It doesn’t have to be professional or organized soccer as long as the kids are able to enjoy the game while at it. However, do not leave anything to chance because who knows? You could be nurturing the next Cristiano Ronaldo!