As parents, we want the absolute best for our children and will do just about anything to make sure they don’t miss out on something good for them. For most of us, that means learning the mysteries of maths to help them with school homework, hosting their friends at home for sleepovers and making time to help them get involved in after school activities and clubs. All of these activities help their mental, social and physical development, encouraging a healthy, happy childhood that gives them the best start for later life, but is it time to add children’s football to that list?
In this post, we’ll be running through some of the most important benefits of playing youth football. We hope it helps you to make the decision on whether or not it’s worth discussing with your child whether they’d like to join a team at school, try out for a local club or even attend a youth football training camp.
Children’s football is one of the most beneficial activities young boys and girls can get involved in at a young age. Offering a wide range of health benefits, including social, mental and physical benefits, encouraging your child to take up this sport is incredibly worthwhile, especially if they’ve shown any interest in the game already.
To help you understand just how important a role this sport could play in your child’s development, we’ve outlined the five main types of benefits of football for youth players below:
Beyond simply providing the right environment for developing essential conversation skills in young children, youth football helps to encourage a deeper level of communication between players. As children have to work together in matches and training sessions, they learn how to communicate their ideas and feelings to their teammates, something that happens less frequently when simply spending time with one another at school.
For older children, similar benefits of playing youth football include learning how to convert complex thoughts and ideas into speech. This occurs as players debate and construct team strategies to use in games, finding inventive ways to work together to win. At this stage of development, players will also naturally develop ways of silent communication, allowing them to work together seamlessly on the pitch without allowing opponents to decipher their plans mid-game. This ability to read body language and facial expressions is an incredibly important skill and practicing with teammates and friends is the first step in being able to effectively communicate with strangers in later life.
Finally, one of the most important communicative skills that children’s football helps to foster is conflict management. In an environment like a football game, in which so much emphasis is placed on working together as a team, there are bound to be arguments and disagreements and learning how to express oneself in these situations is very important.
Perhaps the most obvious social benefit of children’s football is the chance it provides to forge meaningful friendships with other children their age that they have something in common with. Due to the typically busy training schedules, these children are able to have frequent contact with their friends, helping them to maintain friendships even if school, family time and other activities fill up the rest of their time.
Through playing football with friends, children also experience working in a supportive team environment and develop useful social skills within that context, such as compassion and empathy. In cases where they or their teammate make a mistake, such as missing a pass or failing to save a goal, they learn how to receive and pass on encouragement.
While there is no competition at the youngest levels of youth football, as scores are not counted in a match of mini soccer and no winners or losers announced, when they get to the older stages of the game, they begin to participate in a little healthy competition. This provides the perfect chance for children to band together and develop their collaboration and cooperation skills. Together, they are taught to strive for their goal, laying out strategies and plans to help them get there and pouring as much time and effort into their goal as possible. Even those who don’t win the match, league or the competition are taught the value of losing, and are shown the healthiest ways to accept that loss and use it to fuel their next attempt.
When it comes to looking at the mental health benefits of youth football, the list is impressive. From improved focus and concentration to learning planning and strategy development skills, playing football from a young age can sharpen a wide range of cognitive behaviours that will go on to support them in other areas of their lives as well as their future. Activities such as analysing their own skills, as well as the particular strengths and weaknesses of their teammates, then using that information to determine the best ways of working collectively as one unit on the pitch is a skill that builds towards critical thinking and team leadership, both of which positively impact children.
One of the most important benefits of youth football is the development of vital motor skills. Particularly true for very young children, the specific skills needed to succeed in football, such as dribbling, running and kicking are incredibly useful for children that are still literally and figuratively finding their feet. Learning how to control their body and develop basic coordination helps them as they grow, allowing them to improve more advanced motor skills such as speed, agility, balance and strength more easily when they get older.
Beyond this, there is also the obvious benefit of football, and sport in general, of improving a child’s general fitness. Due to the specific skills needed for football, kids are also given regular opportunities to forge connections between the mind and the body, particularly when they are practicing passing skills or aiming while taking penalty shots.
Last, but by no means least, youth football boasts a wide range of personal benefits for children that should never be overlooked. Confidence, self-esteem and a sense of belonging are all associated with playing football from a young age, and help to ensure children are happy, both in themselves and with their life. It also pays to remember that football is fun! If your child truly loves the game, whether they enjoy the challenge, the activity or just spending time with friends, they will be able to make the most of the mood boosting and stress busting side effects of football.
If your child is already reaping the benefits of playing youth football or are showing signs of wanting to get involved in the game, make sure you have everything they need for safe, fun play with the collection of youth football kits at Avec Sport. Completely unisex to ensure everyone can take part, our kids team kits are comfortable, cusomisable and high-quality. Browse the full range of kids jerseys, shorts and socks online or take a look through our adult-sized customisable hoodies, perfect for wearing to their matches to show your support.