The role of friends in sports participation
We all look up to people in life. For young kids it's their parents (which parents can never get enough of in the younger years). But as children grow older, they tend to look around instead of up. Young adults look to their friends, general acquaintances or others in an increasing wide circle of influencers collectively known as peers.
One area where friends can have a big influence is in sports, or more exactly, participation in sports, and being part of a peer group can make a difference to a child's sporting experience.
Having peers' participation in sport is a key determinant of a child's involvement and presents significant mental health benefits, with research suggesting that extracurricular activities, like sport, are most beneficial when young people participate with members of their social networks.
This is because the presence of peers in a team environment is crucial to the self-esteem benefits associated with sports participation. In other words, exposure to positive peer interactions relates to heightened sport self-concept, which leads to greater self-esteem.
With girls, participation in sport also broadens the social convoy to which young girls have access and strengthens relationships within groups. This increased sense of social connectedness is especially beneficial as it leads to social identification with a prosocial entity.
So, when it comes to sport, the behaviour and attitudes of the people a child looks to in their teenage years – their peers – can have a strong and motivating influence on participation in sport and what a child gets out of the whole experience.
ReachOut is Australia's leading online health website for young people and their parents. Working with registered counsellors, psychologists and mental health professionals ReachOut provides online self-help tools that are used by over 1.5 million Australians each year. A valuable resource for many parents, teens and young adults.
This content includes the views and opinions of a third-party, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Suncorp. Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, personal situation or needs.