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


    "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


    "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


    "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


    "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


    "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


    "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


    "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