Ten psychological and social benefits of sport

Whether you join a boxing club in a city or cycle through the outback, sports offer numerous advantages, both at individual and group levels. Sports are good for your health, keep you fit, build muscle and burn calories, making you feel amazing. Beyond physical benefits, sports can help you and your community in other ways. Let’s explore some of these under-examined sporting pros.

1. We learn to share

“Playing well with others” is something we try to teach our children, but even adults struggle with sharing. We easily get possessive and emotional. Not just of things, but also of people. Sports teach us to wait our turn and share equipment, a skill that subconsciously filters into other areas of our lives.

2. We win and lose

Healthy competition is part of being human, and it drives us to do better. However, while there can be sore losers, practice makes perfect. The more we participate in our sport, the more exposed we are to both wins and losses. The resilience we develop can help us handle misfortune outside the gym or sporting pitch.

3. We develop team spirit

Basketball, football and other group sports teach us to discover our own unique talents and celebrate those of others. This comes out especially well because each player has a specific position or role on the team. But even for individual sports, players know the importance of coaches, sparring partners or even the people that design uniforms. Every sportsperson has a team behind them, and it helps us all learn to value our varied abilities and tasks.

4. We acquire patience

Even the most short-tempered and impatient among us understands there’s no instant gratification in sports. You have to wait until the end of the round, quarter or match to see who scored the most points. You might be ahead at half-time, but anything can happen. We learn to persevere and wait to see how things will turn out, whether we’re active players or fans with no control on the game’s outcome.

5. We build our self-esteem

Sports give participants a sense of achievement. Your body and skills don’t transform overnight, and you have to train for months or even years before you see any difference in your ability or physicality. However, progress in sports is easy to measure. Your resting heart rate drops, your muscles grow, your lap times improve or you win more matches. All this can give you a sense of achievement that raises your image of yourself.

6. We understand ‘the process’

Similarly, every sport is a series of complex rules, steps and actions. There are things you can and can’t do, sequences to be followed and specified ways of scoring. There’s a structure and a plan that makes your sport what it is. This approach to sports can be applied in other areas, making you a better citizen, employee or family member as you learn to do things the way they should be done.

7. We increase our self-control

Sports require a large amount of self-regulation. You can’t fight the referee (unless you want to be penalised), you can’t walk out in the middle of the match and you can’t vandalise equipment. At the same time, the high levels of energy and emotion involved stretch you to breaking point. Sports teach you to reign yourself in and constructively channel aggression.

8. We acquire discipline

There are many constituents to sports. You have to train consistently, following set exercises in a set sequence. You have to follow the regulations of the game. You have to show up at practice even if you don’t want to and maintain correct form to avoid injury. This builds up your sense of discipline, both as a person and a team member.

9. We enhance our willpower

Muscles get bigger by stretching, tearing, breaking and healing. That’s why we get sore when we exercise. Willpower keeps us going when we want to give up, and the nature of sports provides the right structure. You learn to push yourself until the end of the session, quarter, round or match. The measures and consequences are more apparent than they are in everyday life.

10. We learn about other cultures

Sports originate from different parts of the world, so learning the rules help us get to know how other cultures live and think. Plus, the language of sports is universal. It brings us together and we often communicate without words, thanks to our mutual love of the sport.

The benefits of sports go beyond those who are physically involved. Families come together to cheer their loved ones and communities that might have nothing else in common unite in support of their team. Participating in sports is a boon for everyone, whether or not you consider yourself “sporty”.

To start enjoying the physical, social, and psychological benefits of sports, call PCYC today on 02 9625 9111.

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