The following are just a few ways a student may see increased school performance as a result, at least in part, of involvement in competitive athletics.
Youth Sports as a Confidence Builder and a Positive Social Activity
In the right environment (e.g. playing for a youth sports coach with the right values) a boy or girl can really come out of their “shell” and express themselves through sport. Their confidence builds and that can be taken directly into the classroom.
There are obviously no guarantees, but when a young person is busy with important things, there is less time to be tempted to fall off the path into relationships and activities that may lead to problems. There can be a tendency for a student who is busy through positive pursuits to be engaged, focused and self-disciplined. These student-athletes learn that they need to focus and recognize that they must lead disciplined lives. They can still enjoy themselves and take advantage of “being young”, but they will also understand that discipline can help lead to achievement and success.
Students Who Learn to Manage Time and Prioritize Will Succeed
Time management became a buzz-word over the past twenty years, but there is no question it is important for young people to understand this concept as they prepare for life after school and in the so-called “real world”. Learning to balance one’s time between community involvement, school demands, social interests and proper rest and athletic pursuits pushes a young person to recognize the value of “planned time” – creating a schedule and sticking to it.
This leads to the important notion of prioritizing. A busy young person, occupied in creative and healthy activities, will need to make decisions about not only time management but will need to prioritize what is most important- and what needs to be done to complete particular tasks in order of importance.
Competitive sports demand a high level of concentration. If an athlete can “focus” on the playing field, this may well help them understand the need to focus on school-related tasks.
Involvement and success breeds more involvement and more success. A student who gets involved in healthy pursuits will often be energized by those commitments. Success does not mean “winning” games. Success means being involved, training, working hard, being disciplined, and showing leadership skills. When a young person shows these traits in sports, this attitude and skill set are transferrable to the classroom
Athletes need to make instantaneous, quick decisions on the field of play. Sometimes they make mistakes but that only helps the learning process. How does a young person learn, if they never have the opportunity to try, make errors, and try again? In school, in business and in life in general, everyone has to become a decision-maker and sports can sometimes help youngsters develop this important trait.
Supportive and Realistic Parents Can Help their Child to Achieve Success
Parents, of course, need to understand their own child – their passions, interests and limitations. What good ever comes from forcing unnecessary demands or expectations?
In the same breath, most children need to be – and in fact want to be – stimulated, nudged, encouraged and challenged. Sports can be part of that challenge.
Parents obviously should not push their children unrealistically or make unreasonable demands. A youngster who struggles academically may still benefit from being active in sports but it may not be realistic to expect a 4.0 GPA.
To succeed in sports, most young people have to work hard. Not everyone is a naturally gifted athlete, just as most people aren’t naturally gifted students. However, the lessons learned from the gym, track, and hockey rink or playing field often provide lessons for school – and beyond.
Mar 17, 2011 - Mary-Louise Langlois