Benefits of Youth Sports Participation
Research indicates that sports participation can promote healthy mental and physical development. According to the American Sport Education Program (1994), sports participation:
- Builds an appreciation of personal health and fitness;
Image of wheelchair users of various ages playing wheelchair basketball
- Develops a positive self-image;
- Teaches how to work as part of a team;
- Develops social skills with other children and adults (such as taking turns and sharing playing time);
- Teaches how to manage both success and disappointment; and,
- Teaches how to respect others.
The research on youth sports has predominantly examined how sports enhance areas of a child's social development. Specifically, studies have examined how sports contribute to the development of social competence and self-esteem (Ewing, 1997).
In general, participation in youth sports can lead to:
- Enhanced functioning and health of heart, lungs, muscles, and bone;
- Improved flexibility, mobility, and coordination;
- Increased stamina and strength;
- Enhanced ability to maintain weight;
- Improved balance and agility;
- Improved self-image and self-confidence;
- Improved relaxation and stress relief; and,
- Prevention of secondary conditions associated with disability.
Specific research indicates children with cystic fibrosis have shown better blood pressure readings after regular exercise. Youth also experience less depression, tension, and anger and are better equipped to manage stressful situations (Paulsen, 1990).