As the wife of a former professional tennis player, I’d never picked up a racket in my life. In fact, I’d avoided doing so for fear that my husband (then boyfriend) would leave me out of shame due to my lack of hand/eye coordination! But after starting our kids in their own intro lessons, I sat on the sidelines watching my own life pass me by – and decided I wasn’t going to be a spectator anymore.
My first lesson was filled with balls flying over the court fence and occasionally rolling into the doubles game on the next court over. However, I ran hard after every ball, I missed many and at times I felt like I was swatting flies. And once I got over my ego, I saw progress.
It takes courage to put one selves in a situation that you may knowingly fail at. In fact, it’s humbling and downright embarrassing at times. But as it turns out, there are tons of benefits that come when you learn a new sport.
The benefits of learning a new sport
Learn to trust your intuition
Have you been inspired to learn how to surf after seeing a movie about surfing? Or seen people at a golf course and been envious of them playing on the peaceful greens and riding around in golf carts? Those thoughts can come to you as a whisper and be as fleeting as when they arrived.
However, those moments of inspiration should be acted upon and listened to. That’s a sign of your inner voice. Your inner voice defines your interests, which can guide you towards newfound hobbies, friendships, or relationships. Or, you can simply find something fun and social to do!
Find the time to try new things
Managing your time between work or school and family/friends can be very consuming. When it comes to exercise, you may need something efficient that will fit into your schedule. We have a limited window to get our heart rate up, so we choose HIIT workouts or climbing a stair-master over learning something new.
However, dedicating an hour, a couple times a week to learning a new sport does wonders not only for your body but for your mind as well. There are endless benefits to physical activity, but here are 7 from the Mayo Clinic.
Add variety to your routine
Our minds and bodies become conditioned when performing the same exercise daily. Over time, it can be increasingly harder to see results. In fact, your mind can even turn on auto pilot and lose the mind-body connection, which can sometimes result in injury. It can also be demotivating to perform the same workout everyday knowing exactly what the routine will be. Learning how to play a sport requires focus and attention to actively engage all of your senses.
How to start learning a new sport
Narrow down what you’re interested in
Find something that YOU want to do, not something trending or popular but what you’ve always been drawn to. One of the best ways to find inspiration is to attend a professional sports game in person or watch one on TV. Another way is to think back to your childhood. What did you love to do? Swim in the pool, run around the yard, dance in your room? Transfer that past love and interest into joining a swim team, run club, or dance class. Even Olympians try new sports!
Start asking around
Know anyone that plays it? Ask to join them. If not, do some research online and on social media of local YMCAs, community centers or sports clubs. Search for free leagues or classes in your area as well so there isn’t any buyer’s remorse.
Interview or date the sport
Take a lesson or two at different locations to see if it’s a right fit, if you feel comfortable there, and if you get along with the instructors. Make sure they’re experienced so they can help you avoid injuries and remain engaged.
Give yourself some time
It can take six months to a year to see any progress when trying something new, so keep going if you’re enjoying it. If you’re not, the best part is you can always try something else. The options are endless, so take a look and see if you can find your match (point)! If you’re looking for something different, here are some sports you’ve probably never heard of!
I know that I will never be a professional tennis player. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I’ll ever win a game – but I enjoy it. I enjoy playing outside, the fresh air and sunshine. I like high-fiving after a good lesson and I am proud of myself for trying. The best part is, I can’t wait to try something else. Surf’s up?