Teaching Kids About Self-Discipline Through Sports

Self-discipline can be a difficult thing to learn, especially for children and teenagers. Finding the will and self-control to take care of yourself, to be kind to others, and to be patient is not an easy task, but it’s an important one to master in order to become a highly motivated, self-reliant adult. 

Learning self-discipline is necessary in order to learn how to be strong where substance abuse is concerned, as well. Many kids and teens are faced with pressures every day to conform to the image their peers set, and this can include dangerous habits that could stick with them for a lifetime. One of the best ways to help young people learn how to make informed decisions is through sports, where they can interact with other people their age and learn how to make sacrifices, be a team player, and how to take care of their bodies. 

“We worked with information provided by parents and teachers to compare kindergarteners’ activities with their classroom engagement as they grew up. By time they reached the fourth grade, kids who played structured sports were identifiably better at following instructions and remaining focused in the classroom. There is something specific to the sporting environment — perhaps the unique sense of belonging to a team to a special group with a common goal — that appears to help kids understand the importance of respecting the rules and honoring responsibilities,” says Dr. Linda Pagani.

Here are some of the best things kids can learn through sports where self-discipline is concerned. 

Playing on a team

Playing on a team can help a young person realize their value and the value of others when they make contributions to a game. It can boost self-esteem and confidence, as well as help them be considerate of others and elevate their empathy skills. Team sports are a wonderful way to help kids learn about self-discipline because they must be patient when it comes to letting their teammates play or take control of the ball. 


Learning how to take care of yourself through diet and exercise is important, but many kids these days would rather sit indoors and play games on a tablet than get up and get moving. Sports can help them understand the importance of eating the right things, getting enough rest, and working out daily, which can be difficult to do without a little guidance. 

Time management

If you’ve ever argued for fifteen minutes with your child in the morning about putting their shoes on, you know it can be tricky to get them to feel any sense of urgency where time management is concerned. Playing sports can definitely help with that, as they’ll learn they have to be on time for practice and games and that other people’s time is valuable. 

Practice makes perfect

Practicing is an essential part of playing any sport, which can teach kids how to reach their potential without fear and to hold themselves accountable for their mistakes. 


Young people can be positively affected by the influence of a coach in their lives, especially during competition, where they can see the results of all the hard work they’ve been doing under the coach’s tutelage. Having this support outside the family can help your child find sufficient motivation even when they’re tired or are feeling low about their abilities. 

It’s never easy to keep kids on track, especially since their attitudes and goals change on a whim. Sports can help your child find encouragement, self-confidence, and discipline even if they only participate for a short time.