Generally, when sports parents, coaches, and league administrators talk about “youth sports,” they mean team sports such as baseball, football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and so on. Obviously, one of the greatest benefits of participating in a team sport is that a young athlete learns how to be part of a team. Some parents and sports coaches might argue that the benefit is lost if a child engages in individual sports (karate, tennis, golf, swimming, etc.). But if your child is more interested in an individual sport than a team sport, don’t despair! Team sports aren’t for everyone, and there are many great things individual sports can teach young athletes!

1. Learn to connect to yourself.

While having a team behind you to help pick you up / back you up is great, learning to stand up on your own for two weeks is also important. In an individual sport, the ultimate success of a young athlete comes down to them and only them. If something goes wrong, they can’t blame a teammate, but on the other hand, when they win, they take all the glory. Individual sports teach young players that they are solely responsible for their actions.

2. Get comfortable being in the spotlight.

During an individual tennis match, all eyes are on the two players. Like it or not, everyone is watching you and it’s hard to hide in the background when you’re the only one out there. Not everyone is born loving being the center of attention, but individual sports can teach young athletes how to feel comfortable being the center of attention. This skill comes in handy during school and (in the future) business presentations!

3. Motivation has to come from within.

Obviously, individual sports athletes still have an enthusiastic coach and parents, but at the end of the day, those young athletes should be the ones pushing for it. There is no court / field teammate with you whose energy you can feed on, that can excite you and encourage you to go, all that has to come from within. Intrinsic motivation has often proven to be more powerful than an external drive, and when it comes to individual sports, it’s all about internal motivation!

4. It’s okay to learn at your own pace.

Individual sports allow athletes to compete at their own pace, which takes some of the pressure off of them to “catch up.” For example, let’s say your 12-year-old wants to start playing hockey. Chances are, most of the other 12-year-olds in the league have been skating since they were really little. Your athlete will be behind the skill level of their teammates, which can be a difficult pill to swallow at times, especially if they want to impress their friends. But let’s say the same 12-year-old wants to start playing golf; You will compete against people based on skill level, not necessarily age. There is much less pressure to perform early on.

Regardless of the sports your child wants to play, team or individual, we tell you to give them a try! There are many great benefits to any sport.

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