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Teamwork and confidence: How team sports help children develop social and life skills

Team sports help children develop social and life skills that are important – from leadership and teamwork to empathy, patience and good sportsmanship. Learning these skills through sport and in a team environment is a great way to ensure children are supported in their personal development and have the tools and tactics they need to carry them through life.

The skills children learn through team sports don’t just apply on the field – they translate into other areas of their life too, from academics and family to relationships and career. Imparting valuable life and social skills on children is important from an early age, and team sports can help parents support their child’s personal development.

PlayBook cricket coach Alex Lascu, who spent 5 years in the Women’s First Grade competition and has represented Australia in Indoor Cricket, said it’s important for children to be involved in a team sport environment that is supportive and enjoyable so it can emphasise the value of teamwork.

Alex, who also holds degrees in Exercise Science and Psychology and is a Level 2 cricket coach, said team sports gives children the opportunity to learn from their peers and tackle tricky situations knowing they don’t have to do it alone.

“Being part of something bigger than yourself can be a strong motivator, encouraging children to invest in a challenging task or competition that they may not have been comfortable experiencing alone,” she said.

Team sports help children develop important skills and attitudes when it comes to sportsmanship, but there are also a broad range of social and life skills that come from participating in team sports.

What social and life skills can children learn from team sports?

There is a whole range of social and life skills that children develop on the playing field that are invaluable and have a flow-on effect in everyday life.

Alex said “Team sports often feature complex problem-solving tasks so involvement can promote creative ways to solve any kind of problem. They also provide young learners with a supportive environment, surrounded by other learners who are in a similar situation. This encourages help-seeking behaviour, like reaching out to their teammates when they get stuck and offering support to someone who may be struggling.”

“The ability to work in a team comes from taking the emotions and knowledge of others into consideration, so team sports can also potentially build empathy and social responsibility from a young age.”

In an article for PlayBook, Amanda Webster, who is a state, national and world competitor in Artistic Roller Skating, said teamwork is an important skill that children should learn from an early age and participating in team sports is an easy way to learn and practice this skill.

In the article, she said, “for a team to succeed, all players need to put aside their differences and work together toward a common goal.”

By highlighting the value of teamwork and promoting the importance of collaboration over competition, children learn how to work well with others, as well as other skills like leadership, hard work and motivation.

In this PlayBook blog article, Karina Brown, who was the Queensland captain in the inaugural Women’s State of Origin match, gave some advice to children involved in team sports. She said children should think about what they can do to help their teammates to be the best they can be and teach them a new skill or help them practice.

In summary, there are so many social and life skills that children can learn when participating in team sports, including:

  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Empathy
  • Confidence
  • Determination
  • Motivation
  • Patience
  • Grit
  • Sportsmanship
  • Problem-solving
  • How to be competitive
  • How to communicate effectively
  • How to take on feedback
  • How to deal with winning and losing, which we discussed in this blog post.

How does private sports coaching help children develop these skills?

The role that coaches have when it comes to helping children develop these skills shouldn’t be overlooked, and it really comes down to ensuring that children are surrounded by coaches who can help them hone their technique and develop social and life skills in parallel.

We asked Alex to share more about how she adapts and tailors her coaching style to ensure kids are learning these important skills and her response highlights the value of private coaches and the impact they can have on young people.

Alex said “Personally, the power of reflection is something that features heavily within my coaching sessions with all ages. From 10-year-old girls to 17-year-old boys, it can be daunting to review how well or poorly an activity went but a team environment can make this process easier to handle. When personal reflection becomes too much, I like to ask each person to highlight something that a teammate did well, and this positivity often spreads throughout the team like wildfire. Implicitly, they’re learning to value the skills of their peers but explicitly, they’re also highlighting what positive or successful behaviour looks like.” “I also make sure when we talk about a skill or a task, we include the physical, mental and emotional elements. As a cricket coach, the physical skill of batting is quite complex, but there is also complex battle with our own mental and emotional factors that can limit successful behaviour in a game. When someone is unhappy with their performance, they sit down next to me and answer three questions: (1) what were you thinking? (2) what were you feeling? And (3) if you could talk yourself through it, what would you say next time? This is a gentle reminder that in life, we can control the processes that we use to approach a problem and always have the potential to improve. One day, I’d love to see these conversations happening between teammates, so they can problem-solve together.”

How can parents help children develop these skills?

The responsibility isn’t all on the shoulders of coaches though – as parents, it’s your role to ensure kids have the opportunity to develop these social and life skills and can translate them into everyday life.

If you feel your child needs more support in developing social and life skills through their participation in team sports, find a private sports coach so your child can work with a mentor who can adapt their training session to work on these skills specifically.

Another great tip from Alex is to find someone on the team who shares the same enthusiasm and skill level as your child, so you can nurture their love of play and work on these important social and life skills. Alex said, “this allows them to ride the highs and lows of team sports within someone who will match their energy and understand how daunting failure can be.”

Team sports are a great opportunity to develop important social and life skills in real-life situations and show kids how to handle different situations, personalities and feelings. The unique environment of team sports is the perfect opportunity to nurture their social and life skills while ensuring they have fun and stay active at the same time.