A sports parent asks:
None of my kids are playing traditional team sports. My college student is taking Kung Fu classes, which suits him perfectly and my high school student is in marching band (which I consider a team sport). Their dad, however, is concerned that unless they actually participate in a team sport (meaning baseball, football, basketball, etc.– individual sports don’t count) they are somehow missing out. How do I help educate him on this one?
There is definitely a difference between a team sport and an individual sport. And there are pros and cons to each. Ask your husband to consider these facts about individual sports:
- Kids who do individual sports usually don’t like to depend on a teammate for success. They can do it on their own, without comparing themselves to another athlete. They don’t have to be as cool or as good as anyone else.
- Individual sports build self-reliance. Athletes may train with teammates, but come performance time, the athlete stands alone. They make their own decisions, and success or failure rests on their shoulders. This creates self confidence and self reliance, traits which come in handy as adults facing challenging circumstances.
- In individual sports, athletes are still taught to follow and trust the coach, but standing alone under pressure is great practice for kids who will grow up to be leaders. Yes, team sports build other good skills for leadership, like working with others, but individual sports can also build capable and confident adults, who can stand up for their values and beliefs.
- You only compete against yourself.
- You can only blame yourself and not get angry at teammates.
- The team aspect of some of these sports still exists. Though it’s not as dominant, in gymnastics and swimming, the team’s overall score does count. In sports like figure skating and karate, there isn’t necessarily a team score, but other kids may be at the same level as your child and attending the same practices. They’ll end up chatting with familiar faces and making friends.
- Kids are independent and learn to perform in front of large crowds. They’re able to stand on their own and enjoy individual projects and presentations in school.
- There is no pressure from a team to get better. They have only their individual drive to be better to motivate them. Many times this is the first sport they have adopted and excelled at on their own. This gives them a sense of ownership and self worth they may not have found in team sports.
Sometimes kids who thrive in individual sports just have a different pace and a different way of equipping themselves for life. Both options will teach life lessons to your child.
Do you have a youth sports question? I will surely do my best to answer! Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.