I just finished assistant coaching my daughter's first season of field hockey. Though there are still years to go before she's ready to try out for her high school team, I was so impressed by the life skills I saw the girls on the team putting to good use. The skill set learned by young athletes isn't the exception -- it's the rule. Just what skills can you hope for your child to gain from their high school sporting experiences?
Student athletes must learn to manage their time in order to be successful both on and off the field. Not only do high school athletes need to make time for daily practices and games, but they need to reserve time for their academic pursuits, too. While parents and coaches can help, students must learn to perfect their time management skills at the high school level, especially if they hope to compete in college and beyond.
Learning to work with a team is an invaluable life skill for high school athletes. Passing the ball, for instance, requires you to communicate with your teammates effectively. You'll need to do the same things in the workforce one day. Similarly, learning to work within the context of a team, instead of always putting yourself first, will stick with you for the rest of your life.
You don't have to be the best player on the field to learn about leadership through participation in a high school athletic program. Leaders know when to listen and when to speak up, recognize strengths and weaknesses in themselves and others, inspire confidence, encourage, and support. There are opportunities for athletes to do all of these things when playing field hockey, or any other high school sport.
In the real world, you don't know everything. Athletes, at least the best athletes, know that. High school athletics teach students to respect their coaches, their teammates, and other teams and players. From that respect students will develop an ability to learn, improve, and grow. Respect for the rules of the game comes into play as well.
Practice makes perfect on the field, in school, and in the office. High school sports teach kids that they need to practice, review, drill, and (sometimes) fail before they learn and perfect a new skill. High school athletes learn that they can't simply give up on a play because it doesn't work the first time. You have to try again.
Though my daughter still has a few years before she'll try out for her first high school team, I know she's already beginning to learn these skills that will help her succeed on and of the field.