In honor of National Girls & Women in Sports Day, I am going to make a very simple and straightforward case for why girls should play sports, any sport, even if they aren’t very good at the sport. This is not about building elite athletes who will play in the Women’s World Cup or compete in the Olympics. This is about giving girls challenging, fun and exciting experiences that over time make them stronger inside and out.
The research about the benefits to girls who play sports is unequivocal.
Girls who play sports:
- Have higher self-esteem
- Perform better academically
- Have lower rates of mood disorders (depression and anxiety)
- Have lower rates of obesity and teenage pregnancy
- Spend less time on social media
- Have better job prospects as adults
My observations at Dynamo Girl illustrate critical examples of the social/emotional development that comes with learning a sport:
- Being part of a team teaches girls both how to find their voices and listen to others.
- Learning a new sport provides girls with real life lessons in trying something new, failing and trying again.
- Being physically active teaches girls that what matters is what their bodies can do, not what they look like.
- Playing tag is the ultimate life lesson in taking a healthy risk.
- Learning a sport is not necessarily about being better than someone else, it is often about being the best version of yourself.
- For girls, friendship and camaraderie is as big a part of learning a sport as the sport itself.
So on this National Girls & Women in Sports Day, grab a football, a pair of socks or an orange and have a catch with your daughter. And when she drops the ball (or the socks or the orange) remember that dropping the ball is a big part of the process. Smile at her, ask her to pick it up and tell her to keep going.