There is no doubt that sports can help young people with their health and wellness, but did you know that they also provide countless other benefits that can contribute to positive youth development? The Valley of the Sun YMCA is committed to nurturing the potential of every child, and we offer sports programs for youth of all ages. Beginning with Itty Bitty, or Short Sports, for the youngest athletes, to our Jr. Suns/Mercury Recreational or Competitive Coed Programs for kids in 3rd through 12th grade, we have something every member of your family can enjoy.

Register for our sports programs and as we get ready to kick off another busy season, here are ten reasons why you should consider signing your child or teen up for team today:

Research shows that athletes have higher grade point averages, higher standardized test scores, better attendance, lower dropout rates, and a better chance of going to college than those who don’t participate in sports. Sports have also been found to improve a child’s sense of concentration from an early age. In fact, a recent study that tracked children from kindergarten to fourth grade found that organized sports helped them develop and improve their cognitive skills. While being a part of a sports team may not be the cure-all to improving academic performance, it can certainly enhance your child’s focus, and get them motivated for classroom success.

There is no better confidence builder than working hard to achieve a goal, and when youth take part in a team effort, it can help build their self-esteem in many ways. While physical activity and sports can positively affect aspects of personal development among young people, studies suggest that the quality of coaching plays a key role in maximizing these effects. The coaches at YMCA are committed to nurturing the potential of every child by creating a supportive environment where they can thrive. Our coaches want children to experience that sense of achievement that comes from playing the game to the best of their abilities, and they focus on building youth’s confidence while making them more aware of the unique talents that only they possess.

Sports provide children with the opportunity to develop social and collaborative skills as they learn to interact with peers and navigate relationships in a safe and engaging manner. At the YMCA, we strive to teach sports participants about the importance of teamwork and collaboration, while valuing the exceptional skills that each individual brings to the group. We realize that winning is not the most important aspect of team sports, and what matters most is that the team works together, while respecting each other and their opponents.

Mastering a sport is not easy, and when children work hard to improve their skills, they are gaining valuable problem-solving abilities that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. They are also discovering how to solve differences and conflicts with teammates and opponents during practices and games, which is something that will continue to benefit them in their relationships and future interactions.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that happiness lies in the thrill of creative effort, and as children play sports, they not only improving their athletic skills, but they are also gaining insight about themselves and their ability to overcome personal obstacles through hard work. Research has found that youth who are highly involved in sport are more resilient and better able to recover from problems. Our YMCA sports programs help children build their resilience and our coaches strive to teach them how to deal with defeat, lose graciously and bounce back from hardships. If you’re interested in learning more about our sports options, visit https://valleyymca.org/programs-activities/youth/sports/.

Sports also allow young athletes to gain a sense of responsibility as they set personal goals and learn from their mistakes and efforts. The discipline of training also helps them develop determination and leadership skills which prepare them to be leaders at work and in the community later in life.

Being a part of a team exposes children to peers from different backgrounds and abilities, which can help them to develop an appreciation of diversity.  This can serve as a valuable learning opportunity. People from all walks of life attend our YMCA sports programs, and we pride ourselves on making sure that everyone feels welcome and included when they come through our doors. We also offer scholarships to those who can’t afford the costs of participating in our programs, and we welcome everyone with a spirit of acceptance and inclusion, which we hope allows our athletes to gain a better understanding and respect of differences.

Youth who participate in competitive sports are less likely to smoke or use illicit drugs. A survey performed by the National Household Survey of Drug Abuse showed that teens that played sports were less likely to have smoked cigarettes or used drugs and were more likely to disapprove of others using them.

Sport provides opportunities for children and youth to engage in valuable and positive relationships with adults, which is especially important when such benefits are not available at home. Research has found that youth who play sport have higher levels of social support because teams provide opportunities for them to engage with adults and peers in a positive manner to achieve collective goals.

Sports not only help young people stay active and healthy, but they are also positive and enriching activities that can bring them great joy and self-satisfaction. Most parents simply want their children to have fun and do their best, and there’s no better way to do this than to enroll children and teens in youth sports at the YMCA. We provide a supportive place where youth can feel comfortable participating in a sport they love, while making lasting friendships and memories. In a world where children and teens spend an average of 5 hours a day in front of a screen, team sports may be just what they need to stay active, connect with others and learn more about themselves and their unique abilities. What’s not to like about that?