Parents may well wish to get their children involved in some form of team sport based on a recent study carried out by neurologists at Washington University in the US, with results showing benefits even aside from health and social skills. In fact, participating in team sports during childhood can improve brain structure, as well as potentially reducing depression.
Researchers believe that involvement in team sports may well have preventative effects in such areas, with adult depression being caused by a lack of volume in the hippocampus, a section of the brain influencing memory and stress response. Team sports with a clear structure were found to be particularly helpful, whether it be a school league or organised club environment. Associations of those involved in such events were strong, especially in comparison to youngsters who simply played at random with friends.
This particular study was based on a nationwide sample of over 4,000 children aged between 9-11, with parents providing details based on their kids’ participation in team sports, along with additional information surrounding depressive symptoms. Researchers also carried out brain scans on participants in order to measure hippocampal volume, with the study concluding that there were also differences when it came to gender.
With there being no clear association with the risk of depression and playing team sports for girls, it is believed that there are a greater number of factors that contribute to this illness, which may well occur at a later stage in life. However, the relationship with team sports suggests that the combination of exercise and social structure is undoubtedly helpful in preventing depression in youngsters.
With involvement in sport being of greater use than both music and art in relation to hippocampal volume, it comes as little surprise that more and more youngsters are being encouraged to take to the field or court whenever possible.
Sport is an excellent tool for teaching kids life skills including teamwork and communication, whilst it also improves athleticism and health. However, despite such benefits, it has perhaps come too easy for those involved in youth sport to forget just why children are taking part in the first place. So, has youth sport become to competitive?
Whilst physical skills are undoubtedly important in football, the very best players also a clear picture of what is going on around them at all times when on the field. This perhaps goes some way to explain why Premier League club Chelsea are now using artificial intelligence in order to improve their coaching.
Both the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup Finals are now just around the corner, with those involved having undoubtedly already begun preparations for such encounters. Whilst the stakes may not be quite as high on a Sunday morning, there are still some important steps to take in order for coaches to give their team the best possible chance of coming out on top.