I have mentioned previously about how we like to use sport here as a vehicle for wider life skills such as teamwork, resilience, determination and learning how to win. It is a major part of school life here because we believe in these benefits. A recent study commissioned by The Heads Conference and the Youth Sports Trust adds to the significant volume evidence supporting the power of sport.

It found:

  1. Greater sports participation in school is associated with higher levels of wellbeing.
  2. Sports participation is also a significant predictor of self-belief and mental toughness, key life skills for young people.
  3. Students in year 10 reported lower participation in sport than those in year 9, and also lower levels of wellbeing, self-belief, and mental toughness.
  4. The effects of mental toughness and self-efficacy on life satisfaction and happiness were greater for girls than boys.

Access the full report HERE

Anecdotally, I have witnessed a couple of moments this week which made me reflect on these findings. Due to its physical nature, rugby is probably the sport that causes the most apprehension for boys here. The thought of running into a tackle or making a tackle can be a daunting task. I know this as I see my own son learning how to do it in Year 4, as they start playing contact rugby. It is great to see him take on moments where I know he is feeling fearful and go for it. He is then he is able to take pride in these moments of small victory or, reflect on what he could have done differently if it didn’t work out. He is not just learning how to tackle but also manage his emotions.

I also had a good discussion with the U11Bs after their game at Claremont this week. They came away with a good victory and we’re on a high, but they were reflective on how they felt, saying that at the beginning of the game the opposition looked pretty big and were feeling nervous to tackle but as the game went on, they felt fine. The pride they took from this fact was evident in their faces.  That piece of knowledge will be of great use to them going into their next game and knowing once they start their perceptions are not a reflection of the actual reality of the situation.

Fear is an inevitable emotion in rugby – and life! Sport can help us to learn how to better manage of perceptions of fear, how to react when we feel fearful and go also through fear and feel pride. These are certainly skills that can be taken into any number of scenarios of life and boost mental toughness and self- belief. Just another reason why we love sport here at Hampton Prep.