Learn the importance of sports for girls, and 5 amazing benefits girls gain from participating in team or individual sports.
My ultra-shy, hypersensitive daughter came home with a mammoth story to tell.
The loud little first grade boy down the street told her to stop looking at him with her “ugly face”.
Before I could go into oh-no-he-didn’t mode, I was struck by the look on her face.
My typically sensitive little girl was not upset or hurt. She was, in fact, mad and had an arrogance about her that I admired.
She told me, “he doesn’t know I play softball now. I have muscles and I am stronger than him so he should be scared.” And just like that she brushed it off and went to the cupboard to grab her after-school snack.
I didn’t have to comfort her or convince her that she isn’t ugly (and for the record, she is the cutest thing I have every laid eyes on).
Her stark confidence made me wonder what other ways girls benefit from playing sports.
Related: Ode to a Sports Mom
Importance of Sports for Girls
Not all girls want to play sports.
But, as parents, we have to give our daughters the opportunity (and sometimes strongly encourage them) to try participating in a team or individual sport.
These are 5 direct benefits girls gain from participating in sports.
1) Greatly Improved Self-Esteem
My husband and I saw a major positive transformation in my daughters confidence, mood, and self-worth when she started gymnastics and softball.
In fact, in 2018 the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) conducted a study demonstrating that U.S. teens involved in sports had higher self-esteem and stronger social connections than teens who did not participate in sports.
Also, studies show that high school female athletes have more positive body images than non-athletes.
Sports provide children with a sense of accomplishment and pride, which improves mental health and confidence.
Other Reasons Sports are Helpful: Teach Kids How to Fail
2) Long-lasting Physical Health
Of course sports lead to improved physical health in girls – but the statistics may shock you.
Studies show that girls active in sports during adolescence and young adulthood are 20% less likely to get breast cancer later in life.
Additionally, according to The Children’s Medical Group, girls who play sports actually have stronger immune systems and a reduced risk of chronic illnesses later in life, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and dementia.
The importance of sports for girls is also linked to their ability to be assertive.
3) Increased Brain Power
Is it due to increased confidence levels or something else? While it’s not totally understood why, girls who play sports do better in school.
They have higher GPAs. Reports show that sixty-one percent of high school girls who have a GPA above 4.0 participate in sports.
Amazingly, girls who are involved in physical activities are almost 15 percent more likely to believe they are smart enough for their dream career, often related to math or science.
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4) Provides Deep Friendships
My daughter loves to play and interact with other kids, but before she started playing sports she had a hard time finding friends.
When we originally signed her up to play softball, ‘making friends’ was what she looked forward to the most. She craved the big friend circles she saw her brother make from playing baseball.
She is not alone.
In a national survey done by WSF, when girls ages 7 to 13 were asked what they like best about playing sports, the top answer was making friends and being part of a team.
Did you know that girls‘ confidence plummets starting at age 8?: How to Raise Confident Daughters
Also read: Is My Daughter a Mean Girl?
5) Strengthens Family Bonds
I joke that my daughter and my husband became best friends when she started playing sports. They would spend hours practicing or talking about the game.
As parents, it is our responsibility to build strong family bonds so that our children can be healthy at home and strong in the world.
Sports have proven time and time again to improve family trust and communication. Girls’ involvement with sports is linked to stronger family bonds, in both single-parent and dual-parent families.
Whether you are cheering from the stands, practicing in the backyard, or talking through strategy, sports can be great bonding opportunities for kids and parents.
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Final Thoughts on the Importance of Sports for Girls
After my daughters initial display of confidence when confronting the bully, we noticed her blossom as she made more friends and developed new skills as a result of playing sports.
And she was right, the little boy should be scared. She has muscles, now.
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Also, read 6 ways parents ruin sports for kids.