Learning life skills through spring sports

T-ball, baseball, softball, track and soccer are all spring sports in Michigan that can help youth gain life skills.

Sports are a great way for youth to gain some life skills as well as get physically active. Spring time provides great weather for youth to be outside running around. Many times, youth are organized in teams and working with a coach or caring adult. These are great opportunities for youth to develop connections and gain skills that will help them as adults.

Teamwork can be and should be developed during organized sports. Youth are working together to each do a part to help the overall goal. For teamwork to be successful, there has to be good communication between players as well as dividing tasks so that everyone is contributing. Another key to successful teamwork is accepting responsibility of their role and sharing the accomplishments once the team’s goal is met.

A coach can promote teamwork in youth by clearly explaining and teaching youth about the different roles everyone plays and how they work together to accomplish the goal. Youth can also make sure everyone is included in team communications, practices and games.

Another life skill that can be developed through organized sports is managing feelings. It is important for youth to learn how to express their feelings appropriately in different situations. During spring sports, youth may feel disappointed if they strike out or get angry they didn’t win. Adults can help youth understand it is OK to have these feelings, and how they express them is also very important too.

Coaches can talk with kids when they feel they might be having a hard time with managing their feelings. Giving youth an opportunity to talk about their feelings or what they might do differently next time it happens will help youth grow and gain those skills.

There are many other life skills like cooperation, communication, social skills and sportsmanship that are taught through participation in organized sports. Michigan State University Extension helps youth develop life skills through 4-H Youth Development Programs. Some counties provide organized sport activities as part of their program. To find a 4-H program near you, visit your local MSU Extension office

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