Now at the age of 33, I’ve been involved with tennis for a very long time. Through the years I realized that there are many more benefits to the tennis journey then there were downfalls. Being an athlete can truly make you a great person. In fact, some of the life lessons you learn in sports cannot be taught only experienced and fully understood at the time.
The physical, emotional and mental benefits of being an athlete at any age are endless, but let’s explore some of the most important ones that will benefit kids and adults,
Body Image – Research done through the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports shows that kids involved in sports are much more likely to have a positive image of their body and higher self-esteem, and it also plays a big part in keeping the child from being overweight.
Overall Health – Kids who engage in sports tend to continue doing physical activity later on in their lives. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression and osteoporosis can all be curbed with the help of regular physical activity. The benefits are of course endless in many forms buts what’s true is once an athlete… always an athlete. The physical body that young athletes create and the discipline that they gain through the process keeps them striving for great physical conditioning, even when the full time commitment to their sport eventually stops.
Avoid Drugs – The other common result I noticed from athletes in my old high school days is that they were much more likely to avoid taking drugs because they quickly realised how destructive it could be to their athletic goals, and the temporary high was not worth throwing the many dreams they had away.
Pregnancy – Pregnancy was a common thing in my high school back then in the senior years but not for athletes, I remember during my high school years how the girls in sport schools (schools that worked around the teens sport schedule) would have to mandatory attend classes that educated them in birth control and sex education. It surprised me that regular high schools didn’t have the same classes.
Mental & Emotional Benefits:
Leadership – It was easy to see the benefits in the classroom from the athletes that were involved in team sports as well. Their teamwork skills weren’t just being built and applied on the soccer field or the basketball court, they were also very noticeable in the classrooms. What a great skill to have as high schoolers make that transition to adult life. Leadership skills and strategic thinking are also incredible traits that can be built through sports and applied throughout their lives.
Self-Discipline – That’s something nobody can really teach you; it’s something that you gain by following your passion and having a clear image in your mind of what you want the outcome to be, and then taking action in a way that isn’t self-destructive. It teaches you that life can be unpredictable and the importance of preparation, and most importantly, it teaches you that it’s OK to fail and that greatness in any sport or occupation is measured by the way a person reacts to falling, failure then is expected and the pressure to be perfect is lifted from the shoulders.
Problem Solving – Sports are all about problem solving, some of the problems I faced throughout my playing career were things like dealing with the sun while trying to serve, playing in windy conditions, noticing the glaze of a car while hitting a groundstroke, finding the correct strategy depending on who my opponent was and tweaking it as the match went on and trying to not lose it mentally on the court when an opponent was trying to cheat me of a point, game or in some case even the match. Athletes begin to see problems before they come up and can properly give themselves the best chance to solve that problem. Athletes later in life begin to apply the problems solving they had to do in their sport to other aspects of their lives because it has already been trained over and over again. By the time I was 18 years old I truly believed that I didn’t need a tennis coach anymore all I needed was to put in the time and keep working hard, I was able to become my own coach on and off the court.
Gratitude For Exercise
I will be forever grateful for the benefits I received from being an athlete for so long. But let’s not forget the challenges so many athletes face at all levels. There are physical challenges, as well as mental and emotional challenges that come along with the lifestyle. In any case, whether you’ve grown up around an athletic environment or not, it’s crucial that everyone applies some sort of exercise into their daily lives because as you can see the benefits are just too much to pass up. Soon you may be addicted to this new healthy lifestyle and your mental health will thank you greatly for that.