Teen Sports and Mental Health – ending this year strong, starting the new year fresh!

As we head into a new year, it’s time to think about how you can make the upcoming year your best yet. And what better way to start fresh than enjoying regular physical activity and friendly competition?  

Playing sports is a great way to stay healthy, have fun, meet new people and escape from the stresses of everyday life. Bonus — participating in sports can also improve your mental health and well-being.   

Whether you’re struggling with self-esteem, depression, or anxiety, or just looking to try a new, healthy, and positive activity, here are five reasons why playing a sport is a great way to improve your mental and physical well-being.

And in case you’re worried, you really don’t have to be a star athlete to be a valuable team member.  You just need a good attitude, the willingness to work on improving your skills, and an interest in helping your teammates to do their best as well. 

Five ways sports can boost your mental well-being 

Improve self-esteem – Sports are all about setting and accomplishing personal and team goals, which is why taking part in a sport can help to increase your self-esteem and confidence. As you gain physical and mental strength, you’ll become more aware of your capabilities and more confident in your own self-worth and contribution to your team. Believe in yourself – you can do it! 

Ease Symptoms of Depression and Stress – Playing a team sport provides a sense of belonging and purpose that can reduce the symptoms of depression and stress. It’s also an outlet for releasing frustration, which decreases anxiety and helps to improve your mood. Studies show that taking part in a sport can help reduce depression by 20 percent. Physical activity helps release endorphins, which act as natural anti-depressants, making us feel good about ourselves, improving our mood and helping us cope with daily stressors. 

Girl posing with her tenis racket in the court

Grow Leadership and Team-Building Skills – Playing a sport helps develop the skills necessary to be a good team player and also a leader, on and off the field. Participating in sports encourages players to communicate well, think critically, take the initiative, and work together as a team. It also teaches team members how to handle adversity, work through disagreements, and cultivate mutual respect. All these skills can be applied to any situation, athletic or not, making them invaluable now and throughout your life. 

Keep Your Mind Sharp – Engaging in physical activity and exercising your body improves your mental alertness and cognitive abilities. Exercise increases the production of hormones that help protect the brain from damage. Regular physical activity has been shown to improve concentration and attention, boost memory, and reduce the risk of age-related mental decline. Your athletic efforts might also help your grades!

Boy running down a field

Build Resilience – When things aren’t going well during a game, players rely on resilience to see the game through to the end, no matter the outcome, and to learn from it for the next time. Whether a game is close and competitive or a runaway win or loss, the experience teaches us the resilience we need to handle success and failure, and deal with pressure in life, especially when things don’t go our way.  

Playing a sport can definitely have its tough moments, but a good team and coach will always support its players through good times and bad. Teammates help each other to work through setbacks and to grow as players. When you’re checking out a new sport, pay attention to the team’s culture and look for a group where you can learn, grow, feel supported, and share the love with others.  

And be realistic with yourself. It takes time and effort to become a better player. You’ll get there. Don’t be too hard on yourself and remember to keep the rest of your life in balance as well.  

Sports organizations in your area 

The great news is, there are all kinds of opportunities out there to learn a sport and to play for fun or competitively. Check out these organizations! 

Youth Impact Center YIC offers free academic, personal support, and athletic training for students ages 6-18, with two centers in Pinecrest Square.  Whether you want to get better grades, learn and play a sport, or make new friends—YIC is the place where you can do it all. 

City of Ft. Lauderdale Youth Sports Development League – Allows children and youth from ages 4-12 to try a variety of sports for one low annual membership! Members receive one free uniform for each sport played, attend sports camps and clinics on no school days, access homework/tutoring assistance, and more! 

I9sportsOffers fun, organized, and educational youth sports leagues throughout the Fort Lauderdale area. Children and teens receive age-appropriate instruction and choose from a variety of sports such as flag football, soccer, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and even volleyball. 

Need help?  

 If your stress feels overwhelming, look for a safe person and space in which to talk. The Bougainvilla House is here for you, with an understanding and welcoming staff and environment ready to assist you and your family. Take that important first step and ask for help.       

The Bougainvilla House also offers Workshops to provide tools and strategies that support healthy families and nurture future generations as they grow.        

Call now to find support for you and your family: (954) 764-7337.