It’s no secret that sports help kids develop well beyond their physical abilities. And how could they not? So much of sports relies on social relationships and skills – and not just in terms of calling “got it” for the ball.
Before an athlete even gets to competition, they put in hours practicing. Over the course of those practices, they’re being mentored by at least one coach. While many people think of coaches as people shouting directions from the sidelines, that view doesn’t include the majority of the time that’s spent working one-to-one with the athletes. The coach-athlete relationship is incredibly important and social skills are a huge part of what makes that relationship successful.
From asking and answering questions along the way in order to know each other and give or understand directions to simply building a rapport, communication between the coach and athlete is critical. As time goes on, those initial communications will evolve and build a constantly growing trust and strong bond. It’s a constant dialogue and a constant opportunity for your athlete to build social skills when communicating with adults.
Beyond one on one time with the coach, your athlete has exposure to teammates and peers. So many conversations happen while waiting for practice to start or even just waiting their turn for equipment. At meets and games, athletes socialize constantly, from in-game communication to discussion on the sidelines. They give each other words of support and encouragement and outside of sports-related talk, socialize about their lives.
From a social skills standpoint, athletes are constantly exposed to opportunities to understand and develop social norms and cues. Young athletes will learn to contribute to group discussions and wait until someone is done talking to share their own thoughts. They’ll learn empathy and how to genuinely identify with others. They’ll learn how to be supported. They’ll learn receptive language.
The opportunities are endless to both listen and converse. To share and be shared with. To support and be supported.
Socialization is about much more than simply learning to communicate and talk, though that is certainly part of it. Sports offer a unique environment for one-on-one and group interactions on a regular basis in a way that focuses on one thing the athletes have in common, while also offering opportunities outside of that realm to continue their relationships. Sports teams don’t just teach a game or a skill: They teach socialization and develop emotional relationships every day in ways only sports teams can.
As will all things, it’s important to ensure that your young athletes are learning positive social skills and lessons and much of that in athletics comes from the coach. What kids are exposed to through athletics and the lessons they learn from their coaches and role models often gets ingrained in their own leadership skills and will carry with them through life. We know the importance of that positivity and each of our coaches carries with them that priority and the knowledge of the impact they can make on our athletes. To learn more about our coaches and how your young athlete could grow socially within our programs, visit join.ultimatecheer.myascs.com.
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