Have you ever stopped for a moment and wondered why children are encouraged to participate in sport? Well, the education systems of the world have very good reason and when one looks at the broader objectives of children in sport it becomes very obvious that sport plays a vital role in developing the personalities of young people in a positive and constructive manner.

The most commonly cited objectives of physical education could be summed up as the promotion of the following;

  • Moral development.
  • Emotional adjustment.
  • Motor skills.
  • To aid self realisation
  • Leisure and recreation.

Furthermore, sport assists in the development of good physical health, improved social skills, it builds independence and boosts self esteem, thereby assisting in the promotion of improved mental health.

Benefits are spread throughout the child’s developmental zones such as the psychomotor zone, (motor skills), cognitive zone, (thinking) and effective zone,( emotional control).

Children that show early co-ordination and good motor skills also seem to exhibit greater skills in other fields such as Mathematics and languages, although this is not a hard and fast rule, these children tend to have higher IQ’S than there less co-ordinated mates. Whether or not that is actually the case is up for debate, but being good at sport and good at school seems to have a strong case.

It may just be that because of the boost in self-esteem, there is a snowball effect leading to self-confidence in academics as well.

Regardless, of whether the child is a ‘A’ team player or not, they will benefit by experiencing success regularly, whilst at the same time can learn to accept the defeats leading to greater determination to prepare for victory in the next contest or match.

Personally, I have found that working with people who have played sport are a lot easier to train than those that have not been sports orientated and the reasons vary from self- discipline, mental toughness, focus and the general ability to get on with the task at hand.

Children are like moving targets, so a varied approach needs to be taken depending on their individual temperaments. The ideal childhood environment for a child athlete is one where parents are supportive and encourage their children in their sports activities, making sure that they have fun, without being pushed or forced. Emphasise should be always be placed on values, morals and fair play, whilst providing a safe, happy and secure home life. Take care to choose role models that project the right things in life.

Four fifths of successful athletes are not pressurised by their parents, rather they receive lots of moral support and do the sports for the enjoyment.

As adults, we are directly responsible for the way young athletes are nurtured and if done correctly will yield well-balanced individuals that are productive and contribute to society in a positive manner.

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