Study after study will tell you. Children who are active avoid many of the risks of modern life.
Active children are less likely to be overweight. As they grow into teens, they're less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking. And active children tend to do better in school.
But according to The Aspen Institute, "fewer than half of children ages 6 to 11 meet the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendation for engaging in at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week."  Team sports is one of the ways parents can be sure their children have a positive exposure to physical activity.
What should parents look for in a sports league? A lot of factors go into it.
Really young players
For athletes ages 3-5, it's all about fun with peers and beginning to learn the social aspects of sport. Learning how to follow rules is also key at this stage. You'll hear parents and coaches at a soccer game for this age shouting encouragements such as "No hands! Remember, no hands!" or "Same team!"
It's also at this age that children begin to learn a critical component of sport: Competition. Children have spent their entire lives hearing "that's his, don't take it." Or "You have to share, give her a turn." So it's jarring to a young athlete when the ball is taken away from him or her for the first time.
For athletes ages 6-10, it's still about fun, but it's also about skill development. Kids at this age are coordinated enough to perform basketball passing drills or play a pass-pass-shoot drill at soccer practice. At the Y, we emphasize good teamwork and sportsmanship at this age. It's less about winning or losing in competition and more about how to play the game. The Y is a developmental league. That means we meet each player where he or she is and improve their skills from there. We're a league where everybody learns and everybody plays, including players with diverse abilities.
For athletes 11-14, the emphasis remains on fun, but learning how to win or lose gracefully is emphasized. All players are welcome whether it's their first season or they've played since they were 3, and skill development is tailored to each athlete's skills and abilities. But our goal here is to get players ready for a competitive league or high school competition, if that is something they're interested in.
We're forming teams for Spring Soccer right now! We'd love to have your child join us! Find out more and register here.