Ever since I was a toddler, I have had a competitive drive in myself to be the best, and that started with sports. Athletics have pretty much consumed my entire life since I can remember. I’ve played soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball, waterpolo, golf, rugby, you name it, I have tried it.
If you feel that you are not athletic enough, or are too old to start a sport, get rid of that mindset. Sports are meant to be fun, and it’s never too late to start having fun. Especially as a teenager in high school, there are so many opportunities for you to start playing a sport, with other beginners too.
The benefits of sports are too outstanding to say no, but not everything is perfectly wonderful. Before excellence, there is hardship. Here’s what you have to know before starting to play a sport.
Picking The Right One
Choosing the right sport for you is critical; it can make or break your experience as an athlete. Recognize your skills, likes and dislikes, and approach to competition; try writing them down. When considering, take into account running, endurance, aggression, skill, strength, work-ethic, and teamwork. If you know you’re an aggressive player with great endurance, try a sport like soccer. What if you hate running, but love aggression? Maybe golf is the right sport for you! If you can, talk to some friends who already play sports and get their opinion. You never want to feel out of place, and picking the right sport will ensure that.
Sports Are Physically Hard
This might seem obvious, but so many people don’t realize that training for a sport is strenuous. In fact, the more competitive it gets, the more rigorous training is involved. Go into the sport with a mindset that it will not be easy. What’s so magnificent about playing sports is the exercise that comes with the fun. In swimming, you try to move your arms and legs as fast as you can. In soccer, you will sometimes be full-on sprinting. Even though it can be tiring, let yourself have fun. Remember that it’s just a game.
Additionally, sports will force you to treat your body well, and that’s what’s so great. You’ll eventually have to learn how to take care of yourself and with sports you only get a headstart. Also, note that injuries will happen, even the strongest athletes have to deal with them. When you find yourself on the sideline because of an injury, do not let it discourage you. Stay a good teammate, support your team in other ways, and focus on rehabilitation.
Here are some DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to sports and your body:
- DO push yourself hard.
- DON’T overwhelm your body to the point of injury. Listen to yourself. You know best.
- DO take days off when you need to.
- DON’T give up when things get slightly difficult.
Sometimes, your mentality and psychological approach matters more than actual skill. Confidence can have a severe impact on your performance, and that often isn’t understood. Coaches, teammates, and your competition might get to you, but you have to shake it off. Know that when someone is being harsh on you, they’re either jealous or want you to get better as a player. Learning not to take feedback from coaches as mean and more as constructive criticism is crucial. If you need some extra support, go to your teammates. They are in the same situation as you, they just want to have fun and get better. 99% of the time, you’ll walk away feeling so much more heard and confident. For me, I get the most stressed out right before a game, but try as much as you can not to do that. A little stress is good, more than a little is too much. Before you go into a game, take a moment to breathe. Don’t start freaking out, have some faith in yourself!
Sports are time-consuming, but so worth it. Think about it, if you become an athlete at your school, you will likely have to practice at least 3 times a week! Oftentimes, school teams hold practices 5-days a week for 2 hours. Starting a sport, especially if you’re used to having loads of time, will be a huge adjustment. Expect that you will have less time to do homework, hang out with friends, or even relax. Furthermore, the work you do outside of the sport will also be time-consuming. From properly taking care of your body, like by stretching, to improving your endurance, you may even have to completely shift your schedule.
For managing your time, try and create a routine. Immediately after you get home from practice, go shower and then spend 45 minutes doing homework. Then, go eat some dinner and watch an episode of a TV show. After, take however long you need to do a chore. When you’re done with that, do the rest of your homework and then head to bed. Laying out specific plans will help you stay organized and on track, even though you have less time.
All of the Fun
Regardless of everything not so great about playing a sport, the benefits that come with it are outstanding. The passion I have for athletics is truly unmatched. I’ve fallen in love. Wherever you play, you’re going to meet new and fun people. Whether you’re a freshman playing on a team full of juniors and seniors, or you’re playing co-ed, recreational basketball, you’re going to find someone you love. In the amount of time teams spend together, you have the opportunity to bond and develop relationships with teammates.
In the actual game, however, you can run as fast as you want, kick a ball as hard as you want, and celebrate after a huge goal. Winning a game, let alone a championship game, is the best feeling ever.
Playing a sport is not easy, but do not let that deter you. The friends you’ll make, skills you’ll learn, and everything else will make your experience amazing. The next time your high school is looking for soccer players, or a nearby recreation league is open to you, sign-up! You never know what might happen, you may even end up as a superstar!