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Learning a new sport – Here’s how it can help your self development

Thinking about learning a new sport? Here’s how it can help your overall self-improvement – and not just your physical and mental health.

Staying fit, learning new skills, meeting new people, and just doing something fun are some of the many benefits to learning a new sport.

But did you know that many of the skills involved in learning and playing sports can also help  with your self-improvement?

Self-improvement is the personal process of developing and increasing your skills, knowledge and character over time, and learning a new sport is a great way to do this. Not only can sport help to improve your physical fitness, but your mental and emotional wellbeing too.

Here are seven ways learning a new sport can help you become a more well-rounded person both on and off the sports field.

1. It teaches discipline

Learning a new sport won’t usually happen overnight. You need to show up for practice, be on time, and pull your weight as part of the team.

And if you’re taking on an individual sport, you need to be even more disciplined – something Deakin Honorary Doctorate recipient, Cadel Evans, is very familiar with. Even though you might be working with a coach, you won’t always have the accountability of teammates.

Mastering the art of discipline when learning a new sport can transfer over into other aspects of life as well, such as sticking to deadlines, being strict with your nutrition, or learning other skills like a musical instrument.

2. It encourages healthy living

Learning a new sport can encourage a healthy lifestyle. Exercise gets endorphins pumping through your brain and body, which is excellent for both physical and mental health.

Being outdoors also has great benefits, including reduced anxiety and depression, which puts you in a calmer and more receptive state of mind for self-improvement.

Not only does a new type of movement stimulate the mind-muscle connection, it also helps to build muscle and strength and burn calories. If paired with proper nutrition, this can mean  reducing weight.

3. It improves analytical skills

Most sports usually require some sort of strategic thinking. Golf, for example, relies on strategic analysis of your actions while in play, while sports like football can rely more on pre-determined plans and strategies. But no matter what sport you’re playing, your brain will be working along with your body.

Even individual activities like running involve some analysis to strategise ways to beat your previous personal record, or work to improve your times or distances.

While there is definitely a certain amount of planning that goes into sport before you even get on the field, track, or green, you’ll train your brain to think things through very quickly in the moment.

4. It teaches sportsmanship and respect

Respect and good sportsmanship are huge parts of any sport.

Learning a new sport gives you the opportunity to practice treating your opponents with respect, handling your losses with grace, and celebrating your wins with humility.

Even if you’re just learning a sport or activity in the comfort of your own home, or competing against only yourself, respect can be practiced! Respect what your body can do and give yourself a pat on the back when you reach new milestones.

5. It reinforces the value of consistency

Being consistent means working on developing your skills on a regular basis, even if you aren’t feeling like it at the time.

Consistency also not only allows for more sustainable progress, but it keeps your motivation levels going. One of the best things about learning a new sport is that boost of motivation that comes when you start seeing progress – but consistency is key.

6. It encourages teamwork

Learning a new sport is great for improving your teamwork and cooperation skills, two invaluable skills both on and off the field.

This means listening to others’ ideas, giving feedback and input, helping others to improve, and playing your role to the best of your ability, to help become a tight-knit unit.

7. It teaches conflict management

When out on the sports field or competing on the court, emotions can run high. Whether it’s a simple misunderstanding or an opponent riling you up for a reaction or to try and throw you off your game, there can often be some conflict involved.

This can give you plenty of opportunity to practice your conflict management skills, something  you can take from the court or field and into your professional or family life, and friendships.

How to get started learning a new sport

Getting out of your comfort zone, mastering new skills, and teaching your body to move differently is excellent for self-improvement. Taking part in a team sport can also help you build better social skills and confidence.

Or, if you prefer engaging in sports or activities on your own, try running, swimming, weightlifting, or something else that doesn’t require you being part of a team.

Even something as simple as learning how to play darts in the comfort of your own home can have these benefits if you stay committed!

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