More Than A Game: How Organized Sports Can Help Prepare Our Youth For Adulthood

By: David A. Aguirre

Speaking as a parent who coaches his boys, there is no better feeling than watching my child make an amazing play in a game. Witnessing your son drive a walk off base hit or your daughter kick a last second goal are memories that last a lifetime for parents. Moments like these make organized youth sports a popular tradition embodied within American culture. As wonderful as these moments are, the importance of integrating organized sports within your child’s life goes beyond the game itself. When coached properly, youth sports can help instill some important values needed for becoming a successful adult.  As a coach for 15+ seasons, I believe sports is the absolute best recreational tool available to help prepare children for the constant battles that life presents.  The work ethic and values needed to create a winning team mirrors the same work ethic and values needed to prosper in society as an adult.

5 IMPORTANT VALUES INDRODUCED TO OUR YOUTH BY ORGANIZED SPORTS

VALUE #1- PREPARATION AND HARD WORK

More often than not, the most prepared team usually wins the game similar to the most prepared job applicant usually gets hired. Throughout youth sports, the coaches whom are considered “good coaches” share 1 key quality. They display good preparation and hard work. A well prepared youth coach makes certain the team approaches games and practices with a detailed agenda, appropriate equipment, and a positive/confident attitude. When coaching my teams, I try emphasizing the fact that hard work and preparation is determined mostly by effort. For example, the more a player dedicates their time and effort into preparing for a specific pitcher, the more likely they are to successfully hit against them.  This principle can also apply to real life situations. The college student who works hard and prepares the most for a class presentation usually receives the higher grade. In the work force, the employee who works hard and prepares themselves the most for retirement can expect to live a less stressful future.

VALUE #2- BUILDING CHARACTER THROUGH LOSING

What’s often overlooked in today’s youth sports culture involves how losing can build a child’s character. As parents, we never want to see our kids lose a game ever. Unfortunately, experiencing moments of loss comes with the territory of life and the sooner an individual can develop an effective coping mechanism the better. We have all heard wise sayings like; a true measure of someone’s integrity comes from how they react to losing or adversity. When coaching my teams, I use any form of losing as a tool for motivation and building character. In organized youth sports, kids confront many forms of loss including losing games, players losing starting spots, dropping in the batting order etc. In life, people experience loss daily from major situations like losing out on a deserved promotion to less major situations including a failed school exam. If coached properly, youth sports can help children develop a gracious approach to losing that teaches honor, respect, and the importance of practicing.        

VALUE #3- BUILDING CHARACTER THROUGH WINNING

While losing can teach valuable life lessons, winning can also build a child’s character by strengthening humility, teaching sportsmanship, and showcasing the rewards of hard work. Any good sports team share 2 common traits:

  1. They have talented players.
  2. They have a strong work ethic managed by a dedicated coaching staff.

When coaching my teams, I make sure that winning in any form will be handled with class while not allowing confidence levels to reach conceited proportions. It’s imperative for a coaching staff to remain humble and focused through winning streaks. Players should definitely feel proud if they accomplish a goal such as winning games, winning championships, earning a starting spot, or receive an individual award. A great aspect of youth sports occurs when all the drills and reps taken during practice translates to a hard earned win. The faster that kids appreciate the fact that hard work = success, the more likely they are to succeed in life.          

VALUE #4- TEAMWORK

In any team sport, teams displaying good chemistry seem to make fewer mistakes and smarter decisions. Especially in a game like baseball, exhibiting good team work is essential for making the defensive plays needed to limit runs and extra bases. On the mound, the chemistry between a pitcher and catcher can change the outcome of an entire game. Being a good teammate requires all the same qualities as being a good person. A good teammate is selfless, encouraging, hardworking, honest, and loyal. When coaching my teams, I uphold a 1 strike policy for player’s who display destructive behavior towards the team. If a child can learn early on how to be a good teammate that will directly affect their relationship with future classmates, business partners, employees, and future spouses.

VALUE #5- RESILIENCY & FOCUS

What better recreational activity builds up resiliency within children then competing in youth sports? It goes without saying that any good coach preaches to never quit no matter the score. If a player quits on his team during the game, that child is more likely to quit in life situations as an adult. A major influence that determines a person’s resiliency is their natural ability and training to remain focused during intense moments.  When coaching my teams, my staff and I aim to maintain the player focus during strenuous game situations by utilizing positive reinforcement and constructive criticism. Instilling a “never give up” attitude is the best attribute youth sports can teach a child. As adults, possessing a high level of resiliency is necessary to become successful in life. Inevitably, we all encounter situations that test our mental fortitude. Building this characteristic within a child is the best life lesson organized youth sports can teach.

As stated earlier, we highly encourage parents to utilize youth sports within their children’s schedule. The intangible character building lessons experienced in organized sports cements a lasting impression on our youth that can carry straight into adulthood.