15 Important Life Lessons Girls Learn From Playing Sports

Wendy Robinson | Aug 11, 2017 Big Kid
Image: iStock.com/as I see it

girls soccer
iStock.com/as I see it

When I was a young girl, there was nothing I wanted more than to be a part of a team. I really wanted to play soccer or volleyball, but tight family finances made that impossible, and I still feel a little sad about not getting that chance. 

I did finally get to join a team in high school. Being on the swim team helped me make great friends and learn how to work harder than I thought was possible. 

Today, my daughter is 5, and she's eager to start her sports career with soccer this fall. I'm pumped to be a soccer mom, and I think being part of a team is going to be great for her. I'm even more convinced of that after talking to 15 moms who played sports as kids; they shared the lessons they learned along the way. Sports seriously can change lives, especially for girls.

  • Academic Advantage

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    "I'm a mom, a runner, and a scientist. I grew up doing volleyball and track, and I believe the discipline required to balance school, sports, and the rest of my life actually helped prepare me to handle the rigors of grad school. When I was in grad school, I did research on the effects of sports on girls and found evidence that doing team sports is correlated with lots of positive things, including better GPAs and a reduced chance of teen pregnancy. Do I want that for my girl? Heck yes!

    "My daughter is doing track now and soccer in the fall." -- Katie R., Los Gatos, California 

  • Girls Have Power

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    "I did softball, swimming, competitive cheerleading, and rugby. The camaraderie, discipline, and sense of responsibility to others (like, if you don't show up or don't try, etc.) are things I think I got from doing team sports. I also just really dig the vibe of groups of girls and women. As an adult, I'm in women-only run groups and soccer. Super duper girl power vibes." -- Tracy M., Grand Rapids, Michigan

  • Confidence for the Future

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    "I was on my high school dance team and held a leadership position. Sophie tried soccer, and has played volleyball for the last three years. I think it's good to learn how to take feedback, and work with others. I also think it builds her confidence, which I hope will carry her through the teen years to come." -- Sonja J., San Antonio, Texas

    More from CafeMom: 15 Fun Non-Sport Activities for Kids Who Don't Love Team Sports

  • Feeling of Belonging

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    "I wanted to play team sports, just to be like other kids, but I wasn't allowed, because my mom declared sports to be 'unladylike.' In private Christian high school, I cheered, played volleyball, and marched in the band. Of those, band had the most positive effect on me, and I felt I belonged. If my kids want to do team sports, they can. I would like them to do something physical." -- Sheila T., Little Rock, Arkansas 

  • Physical Fitness

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    "I didn't play team sports after about third grade (because there wasn't one I loved), but I did dance, and the team and fitness aspects were just as relevant AND I loved it, so I stuck with it, which is equally important. I wouldn't force a kid into team sports who didn't want to be there, but I'd encourage finding something involving teamwork and something involving fitness." -- Leah B., Oakland, California 

  • Self-Discipline

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    "I ran cross-country, and I was a band geek! Both activities taught me about discipline, team work, and finding your passion. 

    "I think sports can build a community and empower girls to believe in themselves, so I am for sure going to have my daughters find their passion in a sport they love." -- Kirsten R., Bangor, Maine

  • Body Positivity

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    "I grew up as a bigger girl. I was six feet tall by the time I was in junior high! I never felt like I fit in anywhere, other than on my basketball team. Those girls were my family and my best friends. I finally felt as if my size was an advantage. 

    "My husband was a college football player and is a BIG guy. My daughter is the biggest in her class, so I'm happy she has discovered rugby. I want her to feel that same happiness I did doing sports." -- Michelle D., Norman, Oklahoma