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From the basketball court to the soccer field, the tennis court to the swimming pool, youth sports are the ultimate classroom. Kids learn the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, respect for authority and rules, and how to win with class and lose with dignity.

“Sports are the greatest tool we have in today’s society to help children develop positive character traits and life values,” says Greg Bach, Vice President of Communications for the National Alliance for Youth Sports.  “No other place affords them the opportunity to soak up as many quality values as sports participation provides.”

Here are five important benefits of youth sports and how grandparents can get involved:

Positive Attitudes

“Being involved in athletic experiences isn’t just about winning or losing,” says Dr. Joel Fish, Director of the Center of Sports Psychology, and author of 101 Ways to Be a Terrific Sports Parent: Making Athletics a Positive Experience for Your Child. “It’s about more important things like effort, skill-building and team participation.”

Even players on the losing team demonstrate their individual skills when playing—kicking, hitting, or catching the ball, or beating a personal record.  Losing often motivates kids to work harder for next time. Attitude is all about perspective.

Athletes view competitions on and off the field as opportunities to learn from their successes and failures. They try hard and pursue excellence, not perfection. Learning to have a positive outlook on an experience, win or lose, is an important skill kids can apply to other areas of life. Remember that the most elite basketball players are successful around 50% of the time, and the greatest baseball hitters strike out 65 percent of the time.

“These are characteristics we want our children to develop and carry with them the rest of their lives,” says Bach.  “Having a good attitude is something we look for in people that we choose to be friends with or hire to work with us. And it all springs from sports.”

*facts pulled from**