The Importance of Team Sports for Child Development

By: Aaron Locks, NAofA Founder and CEO

As a parent of two grown children who played almost every team sport you can think of growing up, I can honestly say that youth sports are one of the best life-skill teaching tools available. There is no better way for children to face challenges and growth opportunities in a positive environment. Recreational and fundamental sports camps provide kids with a safe, fun, and active place to develop essential skills, enabling them to succeed both on and off the court. Each day, kids have the chance to learn, grow, make new friends, and overcome obstacles, all within a supportive atmosphere. Encouraging participation in youth sports helps them build confidence and resilience, preparing them for various aspects of life without the trauma that in many cases can accompany these lessons. These skills are crucial for child development.

Rather than drinking the Kool-Aid & believing that the only way for our child to have a chance to succeed in sports is by playing competitively Club or Travel, how about we help the kids fall involved with playing the sport? How about helping them to learn the fundamentals, the rules, boundaries before putting them in a place of competition? Do not get me wrong, competition is huge and very important, but to skip the step of learning before competing is like throwing your young child in the deep end of the pool, expecting them to not only survive, but learn to swim & enjoy it.

When deciding on a summer camp for your child, it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure you find the best fit. Based on my personal experience as a father and being involved with youth sports instruction for over four decades, here are some top questions to consider:

  1. Who is coaching and working with my child? Understanding the qualifications, experience, and background of the coaches is essential. Ask about their training, certifications, and experience working with children.
  2. What are the camp’s philosophy and goals? Ensure the camp’s values align with yours and that it aims to offer a positive and enriching experience.
  3. Is the camp competition or instructional-based? Determine whether the camp focuses on competitive play or skill development. Knowing the camp’s approach will help you align it with your child’s needs and preferences.
  4. What safety measures are in place? Verify that the camp has strong safety protocols, including emergency procedures, appropriate staff-to-child ratios, and policies on bullying and health.
  5. What is the camp’s daily schedule? Understanding the structure of a typical day at camp can help you gauge whether it offers a balanced mix of activities and downtime.
  6. What is the camper-to-coach ratio? A lower ratio can ensure more personalized attention and a safer environment for your child.
  7. What feedback and testimonials are available? Look for reviews or testimonials from other parents to understand their experiences and level of satisfaction with the camp.
  8. Are there opportunities for social interaction and teamwork? Choose camps that emphasize building friendships and teamwork, as these are crucial for a positive camp experience.
  9. What is the history of the camp or organization? Research the camp’s track record, including how long it has been in operation and any notable achievements or recognitions. This can provide insights into the camp’s reliability and success.

Before you choose a sports camp, check out the National Academy of Athletics. NAofA is on a mission to bring youth programs to kids throughout the nation. We teach sports fundamentals to promote positive physical and mental development. Our goal is to diminish childhood obesity by advocating for healthy lifestyles while providing tools to boost confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and personal growth.