Learning A New Sport
Learning how to play a new sport may be difficult at first, but it can also be a very rewarding and fun experience. While many get into team sports at a young age, there are quite a few of us (myself included) who waited until our teenage or adult years to learn. This can certainly make it challenging to play against someone who has been practicing the sport since childhood. However, with time and practice, anyone can become great at the game. I used to only play soccer in grade school when we had gym. I usually played midfield. However, with little understanding of the game and little practice, I would simply run in whatever direction my team was going. When I did get the ball, I could not kick it straight. Aside from this, my only other childhood experience with soccer was kicking a ball around with a friend after school. I was able to lift the ball with my foot and knee, and volley it with my head, but that's the only trick I ever learned, and had to re-learn it later in my teenage years. I didn't really touch a soccer ball again until 10th grade, when I took another gym class. Although we never played "offside" or "out of bounds", I still was able to learn a little more of the game mechanics and grew to appreciate it much more. From then on, I played soccer on occasion with my friends and brothers, and developed a basic understanding of the rules. Although not on a regular basis, I began practicing lifting and dribbling by myself and learned a few other tricks in the process. Currently, I'm playing in a recreational league on the weekends, which is quite fun. Since I never had to play by the official rules throughout high school, I've had to learn the rules the hard way, sometimes costing my team an opportunity or almost earning a yellow card in the process. Nonetheless, I am continuously learning, and loving every minute of it. For those who are thinking about or are in the process of learning a new sport, here are a few suggestions:
1. Learn the rules: In order to play the game properly, one must familiarize themselves with the rules. Knowing the basics will give you an understanding of what your goal is, how to achieve that goal, and not be penalized in the process. You can't take the exam if you don't know what the subject is.
2. Choose a position and learn the basics: Learn how to apply your techniques and sense of the rules to the game. Baseball players must know how to catch and hit, soccer players must know how to kick and pass, hockey players must know how to skate and shoot, etc. Once you have learned the basics, try out every position just to get a feel and understanding for each. Not only will it give you a full rounded knowledge of the game and help you decide what position feels best, but it will also help you be a little more versatile. Once you've tried each position, choose one or two and learn how to master them.
3. Practice: Because the sport is physical, textbook knowlege will get you nowhere unless you use it to gain experience. Practicing will help build your mental and muscle memory for the game, thereby increasing your skill level. Whether it's with a team or by yourself or both, it's an important part of the learning process.
4. Watch sports: Watching a sport live or on television can be helpful because it will give you an idea of what to look out for when you're on the field. Once you have grasped the fundamentals of the game, you can better understand how and why a professional player handles a particular situation on the field, and be able to apply it to your training.
If you aren't sure what kind of sport you want to try out, do some research online or in the library and see what appeals to you. Here are a few different kinds of sports to get your ideas rolling: baseball, soccer (football to the rest of the world), hockey, basketball, football (American), cricket, volleyball, rugby, lacrosse, etc. If you're more interested in an individual sport, try one of these on for size: golf, tennis, track, boxing, wrestling, tae kwon do, snowboarding, surfing, skiing, fencing, table tennis, racketball, etc.