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The Best 6 Sports That Serve as Rites of Passage Into Adolescence

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Sports are an essential rite of passage into adolescence, especially in the 21st century. Kids have more on their plates today than ever before. The rise of social media has brought new challenges that exacerbate the already delicate disposition of children. 

New technology affords unprecedented connectivity but can often lead to more isolation. However, the camaraderie and collaboration of participating in sports can help develop lasting connections with positive benefits.

When it comes to sports, not all are created equal. While the burgeoning world of e-sports highlights the elite skills involved in playing video games, it lacks in forging physical and social skills. The following sports require the screens to be put away and serve as the best rites of passage into adolescence.

1. Basketball

Basketball is an excellent option for those seeking a team sport with a low barrier to entry. With minimal equipment involved, the start-up fees are low. And practicing requires only a hoop and a ball, many of which are freely available in neighborhoods and school gyms.

Many lessons learned on the court will build your child’s life skills. Teamwork is a crucial element of the game, with passing instilling ideas of spatial awareness and sharing. 

Perhaps most importantly, time management is introduced through the shot clock. Young athletes must manage their game strategy with a ticking clock. This is a fun way to internalize ideas of prioritization and multi-tasking that will come up as their obligations in life and at school increase. 

2. Tennis

One of the most important aspects of youth sports is building and fostering relationships. Tennis is an excellent way for kids to develop social skills and create bonds while staying healthy and active. Whether playing singles or doubles, tennis players constantly engage with others.

Communication and problem-solving skills are essential and immediate on the tennis court. And because the tennis community is generally smaller than other team sports, tennis relationships have the potential to be closer. Within your tennis, friendships or other opportunities may arise. These are examples of networking, an essential skill for success as we age.

Of course, it’s great exercise, too. Tennis can become a life-long passion and is excellent for bone density.

3. Bowling

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Not only does tossing bowling balls help get the blood pumping, but signing your kids up for a league is a surefire way to expose them to social settings. There’s a lot of downtime between frames, providing an opportunity for cultivating conversational skills.

Math comes into play, too. Keeping score exposes kids to addition and light multiplication. With enough practice, this quick mental math will become second nature, giving them a head start on the fundamentals required in later schooling.

Bowling is an excellent alternative for kids who want to avoid identifying as athletes. Not every child dreams of athletic glory, and pulling them away from their screens can make them feel like you’re trying to change their identity. Bowling can be a happy compromise that ensures they still develop essential social skills.

4. Soccer

Soccer isn’t just the world’s game—it’s one of the most popular sports among America’s youth. Approximately 8% of kids between six and twelve regularly participate in soccer

The aerobic activity on the pitch is hard to match. Soccer is more fun and engaging cardio than simply asking your kids to run around a track. And its blend of agility, stamina, and coordination can sharpen motor skills.

Even more impressive than the physical benefits are the mental ones. Soccer enforces ideas of sharing and focus. Players face obstacles they can only solve with the help of their teammates, forcing them to be aware of their relationships with others.

5. Martial Arts

Unlike the previous sports on this list, martial arts is not explicitly team-oriented. However, this solo sport offers unique and valuable skill sets that significantly influence a child’s personal development.

One of the most significant challenges in martial arts is memorization. Students must concentrate on their instruction to memorize the moves and sequences. By forcing themselves to focus, they’re also practicing mental discipline. That discipline manifests in performing moves correctly—a distinction reserved for the instructor.

The instructor offers another unique experience for children. Martial arts of all types insist on a deference for the teacher. As children approach adolescence, understanding respect and decorum around authority figures will help them navigate academic settings and the workplace.

6. Water Polo

One of life’s most essential lessons is dealing with adversity. Water polo is an excellent sport for teaching perseverance during difficult times. The game poses a unique set of challenges, as the water becomes an obstacle in addition to the opposing team. 

As a result of the exhausting and physical gameplay, water polo promotes patience and toughness. But it’s also an incredible amount of fun! After all, who doesn’t love being in the pool?

Water polo is an exciting game that appeals to adventurous kids. To get started, all you need is a ball and water polo goals—the rest is a little water and determination.

Parting Shot on Adolescent Athletics

Athletics are an essential rite of passage into adolescence. Participating in sports keeps kids healthy emotionally and physically. It also provides a much-needed break from telephones and television, mitigating the adverse effects of too much internet use.

Just because you’re instilling and reinforcing ideas of teamwork and discipline doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Kids won’t mind that they’re learning lessons because they’ll be having a blast playing! Meanwhile, they’ll be shaping themselves into well-adjusted teens.


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