The outward physical and health benefits of sports on high school-aged teens are often easy to see, but the positive effects of high school athletics are much more far-reaching than just an active lifestyle and lean figure. Participating in high school team sports has positive effects on self-esteem, confidence, academics and social growth that persist well past graduation.
Positive Health Benefits
The childhood obesity rate in the United States is at an all-time high and continues to rise with alarming speed. Preventing the negative effects of excess weight is one of the primary benefits of participation in high school athletics. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teens need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day for optimum health. A 2009 study published in the "International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity" also concluded that teens who participated in sports in early adolescence maintained higher levels of physical activity in later years. This leads to healthier adult lifestyle habits that reduce the risk for diabetes and heart disease, obesity and other chronic ailments.
Improved Social Skills
Playing sports helps teenagers develop a healthy sense of competition within a friendly, team-oriented environment. According to the University of Florida, students of all ages who regularly participate in sports are able to cope better with competition in other areas of their lives. Competition is often an inevitable part of college and adult life. Additionally, the social interaction gained through sports teaches teens work with a team, solve interpersonal conflicts and communicate in an effective manner with others.
Developing Mental Well-Being
The mental and emotional benefits of high school sports are numerous. Young people on teams must learn the value of diversity and teamwork in a hands-on way, for instance. Team sports also may enable students to get a firmer grasp of who they are in a group, which leads to a stronger sense of self. Sports participation also encourages teens to handle difficult situations and disappointments with maturity and professionalism. Improved self-confidence and confidence in the team often results, which can positively affect a wide array of other aspects in a young person’s life.
Benefits Specific to Teen Girls
Teenage girls can particularly benefit from team sports. Aside from the substantial health benefits, girls who participate in sports do better academically, with fewer disciplinary issues and lower drop-out rates than sedentary girls, according to "Healthy You Magazine" online. Regular physical activity through competitive sports can also help boost a girl’s self-image.