What is Sports-Based Youth Development?
Sports-based youth development is a methodology that uses sports to provide the supports and opportunities youth need to be healthy contributing citizens now and as adults. A sports-based youth development program offers youth an experience in which they learn and master sports skills along with life and leadership skills in a safe, fun, supportive, and challenging environment. This experience involves caring relationships, facilitated learning, experiential learning, and vigorous physical activity.
When comparing the benefits of sports to other extracurricular activities, researchers have found that sports are better suited to help young people acquire emotional control, teamwork skills, and initiative.
Youth who do not participate in extracurricular activities are 40% more likely to use drugs than those who spend 4 hours a week in activities. Youth who participate in sports achieve more in primary and secondary school and are more likely to go to college, thereby benefitting from more career and lifestyle choices later in life.
Longitudinal studies have shown student athletes do better in school than non-athletes. In a 3-year study of North Carolina high schools, from 1993 to 1996, athletes had higher grades, better attendance, and lower discipline referrals.
Sports programs are one of the most cost-effective activities that promote positive youth development. There is a statistically significant relationship between physical activity and academic achievement with physical activity showing a positive influence on concentration, memory and classroom behavior.