How Sports Have Improved Girls' Confidence and Life Skills: A Personal Survey
BY GRACE GELONE | EDITORIAL INTERN
Playing sports in high school, whether it was for my school or for an outside team, was one of the things I most enjoyed about that time in my life. Through playing basketball, both for my high school and AAU, and also doing track and field, I made some of my best friends. Friends were not the only thing I gained from playing sports throughout my life. I gained life skills, such as communication and teamwork, that are not only essential, but play a major role in my life today. These life skills which I learned from playing sports interested me because I wondered if other people felt playing sports had supplied them with a set of skills that would help them in the professional world.
Recently, I sent out a survey to 30 girls from my high school who played sports asking them how they felt their lives had been affected by playing sports. I received 23 responses and the results were clear that sports had a positive impact on all 23 girls who participated in them. I found that 87% of the girls played team sports (20) while only 13% played individual sports (3). As far as life skills learned from sports, 91.3% of girls learned a strong work ethic, about 74.5% learned leadership and communication skills, and about 70% felt they developed stronger confidence from playing sports. While all 23 responses were great, I will focus on two: one from a girl who played an individual sport and one from a girl who played a team sport. I feel that these two responses best represent the overall effect of sports in these 23 girls lives.
Emily, the individual sports athlete, will be referred to as “E” and Angela, the team sports athlete, will be referred to as “A.”
What sports did you play competitively (high school or club sports)?
E: I ran cross country and track in high school.
A: I played soccer, basketball, and softball in high school as well as club soccer all year round.
Did you prefer playing a team or individual sport and why?
E: I preferred playing individual sports because it allows one to develop his/her strengths that others of the teams may not have.
A: I preferred team sports because I felt that I became a leader, a great supporter of my teammates and coaches, and have a new appreciation of sportsmanship and its importance.
What are the most valuable skills you have obtained from playing sports? (8 options)
E: I obtained a better self-confidence, a strong work ethic, passion, and determination.
A: I learned leadership, teamwork and team building, passion for the sports I played, and determination to win and be the best team player I could be.
Please describe how you learned two of the above selected skills and apply them in your everyday life.
E: I learned confidence when I realized how important it was to focus on myself rather than others. When’s I began to look at my personal growth throughout seasons rather than my place in races, I was able to be confident and proud of myself for the work that paid off. I learned both work ethic and determination when I was able to see races and distances become easier to complete. Though practices often left me weak and wanting to give up, I knew that the work was necessary for later results. Although I no longer compete in sports in college, I still use these skills in other aspects of my life. Passion is something I have always been taught to look for in my life. When we find our passions, whether they be for sports, charitable causes, hobbies, or even academics, our lives gain a greater meaning to ourselves. Work ethic and determination has proven to be so influential in my academics. During the late nights and early mornings studying, I know that the hard work will benefit me in the long run and is something that will help me see results I want.
A: The leadership of being a captain and having the weight of your team on your shoulders was the main way I learned leadership. I also felt that teamwork and determination intertwined because although you have the title as a captain you never stand alone. As for applying these skills, I never give up on a day to day basis. Instead of being stubborn and solely doing everything as an individual, I rely on both myself and people like my friends and family to go about my everyday life.
Do you think sports have had a positive or negative impact on girls? Why or why not?
E: I believe that sports had a positive impact. I think that since sports are separated for males and females, females are able to learn these skills that will change their lives. Though there are many instances where one may not find herself on top, we are able to learn from these experiences and use them to motivate us more as we move forward. If sports were competitive amongst men and women, I think women would often find themselves at a disadvantage and would struggle more to learn these skills.
A: I think sports have a positive effect on girls. People who play sports or are a part of some type of team are both individualized and dependent. Most of the time, a team allows someone to comprehend and realize that a team is the most valuable thing a person can have because no one stands alone. Through a team, you learn to communicate and work well with others. While you can learn both these skills without playing sports, I believe it is sports that cultivate the development of such important life skills.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from playing sports?
E: The most valuable lesson I have learned is to try my best in everything that I do. Even if I only improve a few seconds in a race, this is still improvement and is proof that hard work pays off. I work hard each day to be better than yesterday.
A: The most valuable lesson I have learned from playing sports is that although you have a leadership title as a captain and you either lose a game or something terribly wrong occurs, the weight of that is never the captain’s fault. We win as a team and lose as a team. Everyone relies on everyone on and off the field and it is important to work as a team to improve, whether we win or lose.
Angela, Emily, and the other 21 girls who participated in the survey all came to the same conclusion: Sports have positively affected their lives. I couldn’t agree more with this conclusion because I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t played sports. Sports helped me to come out of my shell and be more confident in myself as well as giving me skills of communication and a strong work ethic. I believe that sports can help girls to find their voice and organizations like Awesome Sports Project aid them in doing so. With these outlets and organizations, girls can learn to compete and be confident in themselves and their abilities. I’m proud to be a female athlete and hope girls everywhere will find sports to be as influential and important as I do.
"How Sports Have Improved Girls’ Confidence and Life Skills: A Personal Survey" was Grace Gelone’s final project as an Editorial Intern at the Awesome Sports Project.
Click here to find out more about the internship program for high school or young college girl/women athletes.