Sports offer our children a variety of opportunities, and kids are joining sports earlier and earlier. My own children have been playing a variety of sports since they could walk. Growing up in a town that offered soccer, t-ball, basketball, swimming, and lacrosse for kids as young as 4-5, my children have experienced a lot of different activities.
Some of the benefits I have seen in my own children, as you may have experienced, include: visiting new places, meeting new people, working on a variety of skills, engaging with different players and coaches, learning teamwork and sportsmanship, the value of a healthy body, and the benefits of discipline and time management.
There is a lot of value in trying different sports, and experiencing the skills that come with a variety of sports; the injuries are reduced, players learn to find a sport that not only they might excel in, but also love, and trying new things is a fantastic way to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
I love working with all the players on a team for leadership. Often, when captains are nominated, we don’t provide them with the necessary skills they need to really lead their team to victory, and often the victory is not on the field (or court, or pitch) - it comes from teammate interactions, and the way a team functions together. As coaches, we tend to focus most of our efforts on the win, and the championship, but the players are watching us, and if we put more value on the team working together, the wins and championships are usually something that follows naturally.
My ultimate goal when working with a team is to build leadership in all the players - you never know when your individual players will have to make a decision - even if it is just for themselves, that will have a major impact on the success of the way a team functions together. When you focus on developing leadership skills for all the players on your team, then they are more able to know when to lead, and when to follow. In being a good leader, there are times when you need to let someone else take the lead.
Talking about comfort zones and empathy are critical when working with players on their leadership. Understanding that everyone is not identical helps them know how to find common ground when challenges arise. It is not the challenge we imagine - when all our players are leaders, there is less conflict, because they all understand the impact of being a leader. Therefore, our non-captains understand the pressure there is in being a captain, and it is not something that is coveted, but shared, and therefore supported. When the captain’s role is a coveted one, then there is tension and conflict, and if the players do not have the skills to navigate that conflict, or do not see commonalities, then the conflict festers and causes the team structure to fracture.