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6 Things Sports Can Teach You from a Teen Perspective

by Brigitte Cutshall

We each have our own reasons for participating in a sport or supporting our children in their endeavors. Many athletes are revered because we all know the commitment that is required to excel. 

When my 17-year-old son decided he didn't want to play travel hockey this year, we were surprised and disappointed; felt kind of let down actually. Why did I feel this way? Was I too attached to the outcome because of the money "invested" for the past 8 years? Can't focus on those lost costs. He's the one playing hockey, not me or my husband.

You want what's best for your child. You take pride in their accomplishments. It's a hard thing to do, but you have to let go at some point. We're glad he spoke up.

Participating in sports helps many who are in need too. It played an important role in my life. Sports really was a "place" for me to escape, something to occupy my time so I could avoid going home. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed it. But my parents were freshly divorced and my home-life was up in the air. My coaches were the ones who pushed me to do better. To be honest, I resented it on occasion at the time; which is normal for a rebellious teenager. Their influence was very positive and I'm grateful to this day.

I "surveyed" my two sons and a few of their friends about what was learned through their sports involvement. All male, ages 17-20, variety of sports (baseball, track, cross country, hockey, lacrosse). They all commented that many coaches and parents take it too serious sometimes. Hmmm. It can be all encompassing...their lives revolve around practice and competition. Bottom line sports participation is supposed to be fun.  

Here are the 6 points we came up with:
  1. Sports involvement keeps them busy and out of trouble. There is a lot of social pressure out there. You will have less free time after school being involved with something. A sport teaches you trust, leadership, and a healthy lifestyle. 

  2. A place to feel good overall. The adrenalin you experience feels good, especially during competition. You develop friendships that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

  3. Dealing with diversity. Being part of a team includes people from diverse backgrounds. You learn to work with those that are different than you. A diverse background helps to foster creativity and reduce stereotypes in relation to race, gender, culture and disabilities.

  4. Teaches you respect. It's important to know how to deal with others you don't agree with. Coaches, other athletes and competitors, even yourself, are all-important. 

  5. Gives you confidence. Sports involvement can help develop your self-esteem. To "compete" is a way to discover your potential to do better, hold yourself to a higher standard, and to expect more of yourself - and deliver.

  6. Teamwork. Being part of a team teaches you how to rely on and work with others to accomplish a common goal. Setting aside your ego sometimes is easier said than done. Part of teamwork, more than anything else, is understanding what everyone's role is.
The best sports experience for our youth should be about balance. Find programs that offer a blend of fun, learning and competition that best fits your child. Take an active interest. Be supportive. But most important is to let your child explore sports on his or her own. 

Brigitte Cutshall is a Media Solutions Consultant and a Certified Health Coach and a two-time breast cancer survivor and living with a benign brain tumor. Brigitte obtained her Health Coach Certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition based in New York. Brigitte is the author of Real Things: 6 Ways to Embrace Life, published April 2015. For more information visit and Connect with her on Facebook. Permission granted for use on
Tags: Attitude, Behavior, Health, Hobbies, Parenting, Social Issues, Teens
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