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  • Competition in general, but sports competition in particular is a great learning ground for all ages. Its learning concealed amongst activity, fun and exercise which is why it can be an exciting and engaging place to distil life lessons.

    Here are 5 benefits you can find from getting your child involved with sports competitions.

    • Setting Realistic Goals
    • Performing for an audience
    • Learn how to lose
    • Decreasing risky behaviour
    • Why we exercise

    Challenging but realistic goals

    Some people are better at sports than others but that doesn’t mean just because it is unlikely that you will win that you shouldn’t try. I have a large number of friends that take part in triathlons and marathons with no intention of being first across the finish line. They know that their ability and level of time commitment may not match those that lead the race, but they want to improve themselves and still get the sense of achievement, firstly by finishing these incredible endurance events and secondly by seeing improvement with every competition trying to shave seconds and even minutes off their time.

    Competition provides a great way to look at what you want to achieve and push yourself with an end date and a particular outcome in mind. It’s important to discuss with the child what their goals are and what is realistic and how to measure their level of success. By setting a benchmark either from previous performance or competition with children of similar skill levels it may spur them on to work harder.

    Performing before an audience

    Competition gives children a chance to display their skills and perform. Another skill that will serve them in later life is the confidence to get up in front of group of people to speak or do something. When I first started working a colleague commented that he was impressed that I was very comfortable in meetings with large groups of people who were older and far more experienced than me and speaking my mind. That came from years of karate and getting up in front of older more experienced people and showing them what I could do.

    In karate competition is generally a solo pursuit, so performance is on your own merit and the applause is yours. In class children can get lost in the group, but tournaments people are watching and clapping for them.

    Victory is sweet, but there are lessons to be learnt in losing.

    Not only does a loss teach you how to deal with failure or seeing others succeed instead of you, both of which are important situations to deal with and which your child will be faced with in the future, but when things don’t go to plan it will identify areas of development or skills that need further development, and can even spur the child on to master these skills to see improved performance in the future.

    Decreasing risky behaviour

    Competition provides an outlet for expression, the feeling of achievement and belonging to something bigger than yourself, even in a sport like karate you train with a team and a club competitors encourage each other even students from other clubs as you continue to develop in the sport and achieve at higher levels, the kids from the club across town is now your team mate when you travel interstate. All of these benefits deter children from engaging in risky behaviours like gangs and other outlets of expression on the other side of the law. ¬†Additionally sports zero tolerance on drugs within sport can deter experimentation as these conflict with a child’s source of gratification and sense of achievement.

    The value of exercise

    Finding it hard to motivate your child to get moving and engage in their sport. Add a dash of competition. By seeing others succeed because of the effort they put into their training, or more importantly have your child see the benefit of training a little harder to achieve more results themselves. Competition for the young ones under 8 years is merely fun itself and its own reward for those a little older, it combines lots of skills together and allows the space to grow and learn through trial and error. Done correctly, and without the pressure to succeed, competition provides many benefits that will serve your child well into the future.