Corey and Angie, twin brother and sister, enjoy playing all kinds of outdoor games
and sports with their friends. They especially love playing pickup games of basketball
and touch football. On particularly nice days, Corey and Angie have been known to
kick around the soccer ball, toss around the baseball, or go on long runs.
In just a month the twins will be high school freshmen and neither can figure out
which sport to try out for in the fall. Corey is deciding between football,
soccer, and cross-country. Angie is debating whether to try her hand at a sport she
has never played, like field hockey, or go with one she knows, like soccer
or cross-country. They're facing a dilemma a lot of teens face — which sports
to play and which sports to give up.
So Many Sports, Only One You!
For some people, choosing which sports to pursue throughout high school is hard
because they have never really played an organized sport before and aren't sure what
they'll most enjoy. For others it's a tough decision because their friends don't like
to play the same sports.
No matter what your sports dilemma is, you have to make the decision that is best
for you. If you're great at soccer but would rather play football because you think
it's more fun, then give the pigskin a go (just make sure it's cool with mom and dad)!
Sports are meant to be fun. If there is a sport you really enjoy but you aren't
sure if you can make the team, try out anyway. What's the worst that can happen? If
you get cut you can always try another sport. And sports like cross-country and track
don't typically cut participants from the team. You can still participate even if
you're not on the meet squad.
Sometimes, There Is an "I" in Team
Some sports, like lacrosse
or field hockey, require
every person on the field to be on the same page. Sure, certain people stand out more
than others but superstars don't necessarily make a good team!
Sports like tennis,
track and field, cross-country, swimming,
gymnastics, and wrestling
are all sports where individual performances are tallied into team scores. Of course
there are exceptions, like relays in track and swimming, but for the most part it's
possible to win a solo event in these sports and still have your team lose or vice-versa.
No one knows you better than you do. Maybe you enjoy the
spotlight. Maybe you get annoyed by the way teammates act when they are über-competitive.
Or maybe you just don't like competing with friends for a spot in the starting lineup.
For whatever reason, team sports might not be your thing — and that’s
fine. Luckily, there are many individualized sports to choose from.
If Your School Doesn't Have Your Sport
Some schools are limited in resources — a city school
may not have a lot of fields, for example, while a rural school may not have enough
students to make up a team for every sport.
A school's geographic region can also play a role. If
you live in a climate where it snows from the fall to the spring, your school may
not be able to participate in a lot of outdoor sports.
If your school doesn't have your sport, don't let it get
you down. You can always try out for a different sport during the same season or look
into whether your local town has a recreational league that you can join.
If Organized Sports Aren't Your Thing
Many people are attracted to the competition and popularity
that can come with team sports. Others love the camaraderie and unity that are present
in a team atmosphere. But for some people, teams are just frustrating and another
form of cliques. If you're not the biggest fan of organized sports, where you have
to follow someone else's schedule and rules, many other fun and exciting options are
out there for you.
You might already have an exercise routine or activity you like to do in your free
time, but if you're looking for something that will both keep you busy and allow you
to blow off steam, try some of these activities:
Climb to the top. Did you love scaling trees and walls when you
were younger? Rock climbing offers participants one of the best all-around workouts
possible. As a rock climber, you work your hands, arms, shoulders, back, stomach,
legs, and feet — ALL AT ONCE!
Take a hike (and bring your bike). Hiking and trail biking are
two great ways to learn about nature while still getting your heart rate up. Even
if you're just going to a local trail, bring at least one other person along in case
something happens. If you're going for an intense multi-day hike, you should bring
someone who is experienced and trained in hiking.
Water world. The water is the perfect place to give yourself new
challenges. There are plenty of water activities for all levels of difficulty and
energy. Besides swimming, try canoeing, kayaking, fishing, rowing, sailing, wakeboarding,
water skiing, windsurfing, and, if you're feeling particularly daring, surfing.
Find Your Inner Self
Many activities can be relaxing and taxing at once. These three activities strengthen
you physically and mentally:
Yoga can improve
flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. In addition to the physical benefits,
many people who practice yoga say that it reduces anxiety and stress and improves
Pilates is a body conditioning routine
that seeks to build flexibility, strength, endurance, and coordination without adding
muscle bulk. Pilates also increases circulation and helps to sculpt the body and strengthen
the body's "core" or "powerhouse" (torso). People who do Pilates regularly feel they
have better posture and are less prone to injury.
T'ai chi is an ancient Chinese martial
art form that is great for improving flexibility and strengthening your legs, abdominal
or core muscles, and arms.
Take an Off-Season — But Not a Season Off!
Whether you choose one sport or three, make sure you give yourself a break from
intense competition with some cross-training activities. Through cross-training you
can take a rest from your sport or sports and reduce the chance of getting an overuse
injury — while still getting a workout and staying in shape.
Two examples of cross-training are swimming and cycling. They not only help build
cardiovascular fitness, but also work your muscles. Swimming can really help
tone your upper body, while cycling strengthens your legs.
You can also try outdoor bike rides and runs on nice days, stopping periodically
to do sit-ups and push-ups. These simple exercises can work and tone your core muscles.
That time between seasons is also the perfect opportunity to get into a strength-training
routine. Before starting strength training, consult your doctor and school's strength
and conditioning coach. Your doc will be able to give you health clearance to participate
in the different types of physical activities, and your strength coach can come up
with a workout to help you prepare for your specific sports.