10 Life Skills Your Kids Will Learn Playing Sports

By Janis Meredith | Posted 2/24/2021

Are your kids learning life skills in sports that will take them far into the future when you are not around to guide their every step?

As we watched our kids playing sports growing up, we saw them learning some very important lessons that we knew would stay with them for life:

1.    Resourcefulness

Teach them how to make lemonade out of lemons, how to see potential when something is not complete, and how to look for creative solutions to their problems. The best way for them to learn this is when parents refrain from interfering and let the kids figure it out themselves.

2.    Honesty

Honesty is the foundation of the trust they earn throughout life. When that trust is earned, it will result in healthy relationships at home and at work. We joke about lying, but in reality, it’s not a laughing matter.

3.    Compassion

As you teach them the value of honesty, make sure they understand that it goes hand in hand with compassion. Compassion in speech, compassion in actions, and compassion in motivation.

4.    Ability to Fight for What They Want

Youth sports is a great place to start learning this lesson. If your kids don’t play sports, look for other opportunities for them to see the value of fighting for something. My kids did it a lot when they were playing sports, and they are still doing it today as adults in their 20s and 30s, only now it’s in their jobs and relationships. Once kids learn how to fight for what they want, it becomes a lifelong tool.

5.    Courage to Risk

When my son moved across the country 4 years ago, I hated it. But at the same time, I was proud of him for stepping out, for risking. Now, my youngest daughter is planning to move several states away too, a huge risk for her to go to a place where she only knows a couple of people, to give up a job she loves. As a mom, I’d rather have my kids close, but I also want them to not be afraid to step out, to take a risk, to try something new and exciting. The alternative? Raising kids who get stuck and never realize their full potential.

6.    Self-Discipline

If you find yourself micro-managing your kids–their schoolwork, their chores, their sports training–you are on the road to raising kids who are not self-disciplined. And the result of that is young adults and adults who will get themselves into trouble because they’ve not learned how to manage themselves.

7.    Strong Work Ethic

This is another thing our kids learned while playing sports. But it can be learned in many other ways. Let your kids learn to work hard for something. Let them see the value of hard work and the rewards from it. I see that strong work ethic in my daughter, now in her 9th year of teaching kindergarten, in my son who has fought and failed and fought to climb the latter in the financial company where he works, in my youngest daughter who works hard at her job and coaches Crossfit many afternoons after work.

If your kids learn the value of hard work, they will be more hirable and valued in their jobs.

8.    Loyalty

Loyalty shows itself in many situations–to family, a team, a job. When someone is loy-al, you know they are not going to stab you in the back, and you know they have your best interest at heart.

9.    Friendship

Kids can be very fickle when it comes to friendships. If this continues as a habit while they grow up, they will not learn how to be a true friend and that means that they won’t attract true friends either.

Be sure your kids know the value of friendship and what a friend should look like. Help them understand what to look for in a friend and how to be a friend that attracts good friends.

10.    Responsibility

Responsibility basically means “owning it”:
Owning their mistakes.
Owning things they are put in charge of.
Owning the part they plan in helping a team succeed.

And in order to teach your kids responsibility, you have to give them responsibility and let them learn how to handle it.

As you teach your kids these life skills, you will be preparing them to be the kind of adult that you love to hang out with, but also the kind of adult that could just as easily be okay NOT hanging out with you. The greatest sign of success for a parent is to be able to say, “The children are now adults who can live life without me.”

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.


USA Football's model for youth football is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and by teaching the game based on an athlete's age, the skill they are learning and game type.