Benefits of starting young

Lionel Messi joined local Argentinian club Grandoli aged 4, Serena and Venus Williams picked up their first Tennis racket aged 4, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi have been playing Tennis since they were 4 years, too. Kobe Bryant started playing Basketball aged 3 and Tiger Woods has been a Golfer since he was 2 years old. It seems obvious that starting young can take an individual to places but there is certainly more to it. Allowing children to participate in youth sports is a fantastic way for children to explore and develop lifelong skills. It not only plays an important role in physical exercise, but promotes psychological and social advances as well.

Let us take a look at the multifaceted benefits of starting young:

  • Physical Development: Children who participate in sports develop stronger muscles and bones; and the stronger you are, the less likely you will suffer from physical injury. Starting young also helps in development of the ABCs (Agility, Balance, Coordination and Speed) while adding to the improved endurance levels of an individual.
  • Better Nutrition, Combats Obesity: While being involved in sports since the very beginning reduces the risk of being obese, it also leads to a fit and healthy lifestyle in the long run. Participating in competitive youth sports burns calories and helps to prevent obesity. Additionally, many children who are active in sports are motivated to eat healthier foods, such as fruits and vegetables. The athletes are more conscious of what they consume knowing that whatever they eat will in turn affect their performance levels either way.
  • Constructs Character: Football also instills within them a sense of responsibility and nurtures leadership qualities at a relatively tender age. Football promotes mutual respect towards coaches and fellow players. It helps channelize their aggression in a constructive manner while it also helps them strengthen their emotional quotient teaching them that winning and losing are only a part of the game and how they react to either defines them as an individual. Playing sports can help kids understand how competition works in a friendly environment.
  • Teaches teamwork: Children while growing up are seen to be as pretty self centered but being involved in sports especially football provides them with a sense of belongingness and a dedicated identity within a team. It also provides lessons on team dynamics and allows the children to sort through each others strengths and weaknesses to decide what strategy works best for the team. Having said that, players will learn that coming together and playing as a single cohesive unit is the way to move forward in search of glory.
  • Superior self-confidence and self-esteem: The sense of making a contribution in their team’s progress must fill an individual with pride. Playing as a group and having a common objective certainly increases a child’s value of their self. Younger players trying to imitate football superstars and replicating their moves and skills must fill them with a sense of accomplishment. Also, being recognized as an athlete at a relatively young age is lauded by the society which inevitably pumps up the self-esteem. A Swiss study found out that adolescents involved in sports viewed their health and body image more positively.
  • Strengthens perseverance: One of the most striking things about sports and football in particular is that it will present an individual with adverse situations and circumstances. The child growing up will learn to face and combat these situations as the beautiful game aspires to instill a never say die attitude in an individual. The child will learn to adapt and cope up during these situations and take them in stride while thinking critically and using application skills when they face bigger challenges in their lives. An individual can then learn to react accordingly on wins, losses and injuries and come back stronger than ever.
  • Discipline: Playing and excelling in sports requires the players to be mentally, socially and tactically disciplined. Self constraint and behavioral control are highly required and these aspects not only help in sports but helps in all walks of life. Basic qualities like punctuality, honesty, kindness and humility are also engraved in a young sports player’s persona.
  • Better performance levels: Children at a young age are gifted with exceptional grasping abilities, which make them highly efficient in picking up skills and lessons whilst providing them with a head start. Players who take up football at an early age develop better football related fitness which equips them well to continue and excel in football, later. Also, if an individual is taught the correct techniques right from the beginning, the chances of suffering injuries later on in life are reduced by huge proportions.
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