Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Developing life skills through sports

3-minute read

Sport isn’t just good for children’s bodies; it’s good for their minds too. Studies have shown that sport has psychological benefits for children and adolescents and teaches them important life skills.

Organised sport has many psychological and social benefits for children – even more than the physical activity during play. Researchers think this is because children benefit from the social side of being in a team, and from the involvement of other children and adults.

Developmental benefits

Development from sport goes beyond learning new physical skills. Sport helps children develop better ways to cope with the highs and lows of life.

When they’re playing sport, children learn to lose. Being a good loser takes maturity and practice. Losing teaches children to bounce back from disappointment, cope with unpleasant experiences and is an important part of becoming resilient.

Playing sport helps children learn to control their emotions and channel negative feelings in a positive way. It also helps children to develop patience and understand that it can take a lot of practice to improve both their physical skills and what they do in school.

Emotional benefits

Physical activity has been shown to stimulate chemicals in the brain that make you feel better. So playing sport regularly improves children’s overall emotional wellbeing.

Research shows there’s a link between playing sport and self-esteem in children. The support of the team, a kind word from a coach, or achieving their personal best will all help children to feel better about themselves.

Social benefits

Playing in a team helps children to develop many of the social skills they will need for life. It teaches them to cooperate, to be less selfish, and to listen to other children.

It also gives children a sense of belonging. It helps them make new friends and builds their social circle outside school.

An important part of playing in a team is accepting discipline. Playing sport means children are expected to follow rules, accept decisions and understand that they could be penalised for bad behaviour. It teaches them to take directions from the coach, referees and other adults. Sport also teaches them about team work.

Parents play an important role in sports

To keep your child interested and enjoying sport, make it a positive experience for them. Focus on having fun, having a go and being active, rather than winning or losing.

You can help your child develop a positive sporting attitude by praising the team’s or other children’s efforts, even if they don’t win. Point out to your child how important it is to try and do their best.

Make sure your comments from the sidelines are positive, and don’t criticise children who make mistakes. Never abuse a team, umpire or other player.

Visit the Play by the Rules website for tips on creating a positive sporting environment for your child.

More information

The Play by the Rules website also has a suite of resources to promote awareness of poor sideline behaviour. These resources are part of Let Kids be Kids, a national campaign that addresses poor sideline behaviour in junior sport.

You can also visit the Raising Children Network website to learn more about children and sports in Australia.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2020


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Sport: encouraging a good attitude in kids | Raising Children Network

Kids and sport – it’s a great mix. Read how playing sport with a positive attitude is good for children and teenagers, and how you can raise a good sport.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Kids' Health - Topics - Parties!

Parties are about having special fun with others! We celebrate milestones (special events) in life like birthdays, weddings, winning a sport's competition, graduating from school, college or university with our families or friends

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Physical activity in children and teenagers - myDr.com.au

Encouraging kids and teens to be more active is not always easy. Find activities that your kids enjoy and build some activity into the whole family's day-to-day life to get them moving!

Read more on myDr website

Kids' Health - Topics - Smoking and its effects - info for kids

Most smokers start smoking when they are teenagers

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Physical activity for school children | Raising Children Network

Trying different sports helps school-age children work out what they’re good at. Doing physical activity they enjoy and are good at keeps them interested.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Kids' Health - Topics - Teeth - protecting your teeth

Teeth can be damaged when you are playing most sports like basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, football, netball, roller blading, or skate boarding

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Recreation & sports participation | Novita

What Novita provides Children, young people and adults engage in a variety of activities for fun and with friends

Read more on Novita Children's Services website

Sore loser syndrome - TripleP Positive Parenting Australia

Is your child a sore loser? Or is your child a bad winner? You can help them be a good sport with TriplePs positive parenting tips.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Helping your child cope after an accident

Accidents are unexpected events that often result in injury such as a car accident, sporting accident, fall, burn injury or animal attack.

Read more on Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (ACATLGN) website

Bullying - The Trauma and Grief Network (TGN)

Bullying is a difficulty that many children may now experience. It can happen at school, in sporting groups or online. Bullying is an important issue that needs to be addressed by parents, carers, the community and young people as well. On this page there are some resources that provide some information about what bullying is,

Read more on Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (ACATLGN) website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo