In a country obsessed with sport, growing up in Australia often goes hand-in-hand with playing some kind of team sport. Through primary school and early secondary school, team sports are taught in Physical Education classes and a love for a particular sport often means an early Saturday morning wake up call for whoever is on driving duty for that week’s match.
Unfortunately however, many people in Australia stop playing team sports past their schooling years.
While Australia is a nation that undoubtedly loves sport – we are also one that loves winning. Sport can often be treated as a contest that must be won. Unsurprisingly, when someone considers themselves not particularly ‘good’ at the sport, they might feel compelled to walk away. However the benefits of team sport are abundantly clear for everyone, no matter your skill level.The physical benefits of playing sport are well known. Exercise can build stronger bones and muscles, help manage your weight, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
But what you might not know is that there are also some huge benefits that team sport can have on your mental health:
- The social aspect that comes with being part of a team is fantastic for your wellbeing. Even if you join a team not knowing a soul, sport has a funny way of fast-tracking friendships. Human connection is such an important factor in maintaining good mental health. Being part of a team adds a support network that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
- Sport is a proven de-stressor. It forces you to apply yourself fully to the task at hand, leaving behind thoughts and worries you may have had beforehand. In their place, sport stimulates the release of endorphins, which are your body’s natural happy chemicals.
- Playing a sport alongside others teaches us the value of teamwork. Instead of reading about it or being lectured about it, sport forces you to put it into practice. It also helps develop leadership skills that can be applied in all areas of life.
- Team sports teaches you how to deal with setbacks. No team wins all the time. Dealing with a loss or a poor performance, learning from it and trying again is all part of the journey. Setbacks build resilience and this can be carried over into everyday life, helping you to navigate the tough times and find a way through them.
- Playing sport helps you get a better night’s sleep. We all know how important sleep is to our overall wellbeing – after training or competing, mind and body are ready for a good night’s rest.
When it comes to finding the right sport, people in Australia are spoilt for choice. From football to netball to lawn bowls, there’s a club for you. There’s also no shortage of social sport competitions that keep things nice and casual, if that’s more up your alley. To get in touch with a local team or competition, a simple Google search will point you in the right direction, or you can contact your local council. If you have a physical disability, Disability Sports Australia can help find the perfect sport for you.
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