Being a well-rounded student is beneficial for a variety of reasons, but participating in sports or playing games has positive effects that go beyond other activities. While there is always the fear of a student getting injured playing sports, the benefits usually far outweigh the risks. Even for students who aren’t athletically inclined, tabletop clubs are becoming more popular. These are
clubs where students play board games together, often looking for more complicated games than just scrabble or monopoly. Any type of game play, whether through sports or other types of games, create positive social situations for students and teach important life skills that can help students in their studies.
Let’s take a look a few of the benefits to playing games.
Sports or other games often require the same skills that students need in the classroom. They call for a great deal of focus. Most games call for memorization skills, whether to remember plays or even remembering complicated rules. Sports also all entail a lot of practice, doing the same thing over and over again until you get it right. This helps to show kids that success takes time and
determination. Playing sports or being a part of clubs after school also demands time management skills. Students who can’t keep up with their schoolwork and their extracurricular activities aren’t able to continue with their afterschool activities. This means that learning time management is a necessity for students who want to continue in their chosen activity.
Do all these skills actually transfer into the classroom? Although it might seem like a big leap to suggest that traits used on the soccer field come in handy in math class, this is exactly the case. The brain is like a muscle and the more we practice one type of skill, the better we get at it. This is just as true for practicing hitting a baseball as it is for practicing determination or focus.
Student athletes who excel at sports often can show higher test scores than prior to playing sports because they are practicing important skills both in and outside the classroom. Traits like focus, determination, memory, practice, and time management are all useful life skills that can be strengthened through playing sports or games. These skills can in turn benefit the student in the classroom.
Sports also teach students an important life lesson of responsibility. Any team member knows that when you are wearing your team’s jersey you no longer only represent yourself as an individual. You represent every member of the team and your school. This is a big responsibility and not one that should be taken lightly by players who want their team to have a
positive reputation. Student athletes learn early that being part of a team means that you are responsible for your actions as an individual. The actions of one player can affect everyone. This responsibility for themselves and their actions translates into the classroom. Student athletes can become more responsible concerning their behavior and their schoolwork as a result.
Team sports and games also teach teamwork and problem-solving skills. As we all know, working in a team isn’t always easy. The earlier and more often children work as a team towards the common goal, the better they become at teamwork. Team sports are a perfect setting for building teamwork skills. Student athletes must practice and compete as a team, regardless of personal differences. This is a necessary life lesson that can be put into use in the classroom during group work or even during future employment opportunities. Sports and games also help strengthen problem-solving skills. Even problems as simple as how to get past a defender create pathways in the brain that help students learn how to quickly and effectively problem-solve. This is helpful for classes that are heavily based on problem-solving, such as math and science, and also for general life-skills. Knowing how to calmly and coolly approach and handle a difficult problem is something that can be beneficial through out school, university, future employment opportunities, and beyond.
In addition to teaching important skills, sports also encourage healthy decision-making. Student athletes are getting healthy amounts of exercise. In addition, they also typically avoid unhealthy foods and look to have nutritious diets, as this can have an effect on their performance. Serious athletes also avoid drugs and alcohol, which can become a problem for students during high
school. Students who play sports for their school often choose not to drink or do drugs as it could affect their ability to play and their health.
Sports and games also help reduce stress. Exercise is a great stress reliever and can help students ward off some of the pressure they might feel from schoolwork or exams. Games of any kind also help relieve stress and anxiety. Through focusing on something outside of their day-to-day lives, children are able to give their minds a break from thinking about stressors. Much like meditation, this mental break allows students to feel better afterwards and get back to doing whatever else they need to accomplish that day, but without the accompanying stress and anxiety.
One of the most fundamental and beneficial aspects of sports and games are the social relationships that come along with them. Students are able to make friends that share the same constructive interests. Through the friendships they make from sports, they are able to have peers who watch their back both on and off the field. These teammates can also help students make good choices, since the actions of one player potentially could affect the whole team. Teammates often encourage each other to do well in their schoolwork, since low grades can sometimes disqualify a student from playing. Students have positive mentors in the form of coaches, who encourage them to work hard to achieve their goals. These adults encourage healthy habits and also help students to strengthen the important skills mentioned earlier, all of which benefit the student both in the classroom.
Whether students are choosing to play sports or board games, the benefits are helpful in school and for their futures. Students learn teamwork, determination, focus, and problem solving. They also are more likely to make healthy choices in terms of food, drugs and alcohol, and have better time management skills. These students have constructive outlets for stress and beneficial social relationships resulting from teamwork. Instead of warning students away from potential dangers of sports or worrying that it will negatively affect their schoolwork, we should be looking at all the potential benefits a student can get from playing sports and games.