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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many activities can be relaxing and taxing at once. These three activities strengthen you physically and mentally:
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.
Reviewed by: Sarah R. Gibson, MD
Date reviewed: June 2014
|Sport Information Resource Center This site helps people find sports resources on the Web.|
|Women's Soccer World Women's Soccer World offers info on female soccer athletes, news, and teams near you.|
|National Softball Association (NSA) This site contains information about tournaments, the world series, and equipment.|
|WNBA.com Visit the Women's National Basketball Association's (WNBA) site for information on the best female players on the court.|
|The Y The Y also offers camps, computer classes, and community service opportunities in addition to fitness classes.|
|USA Basketball This site features the latest news and articles about the USA basketball teams with world championship, teen, and youth information.|
|International Ski Federation The International Ski Federation's website features articles on cross-country skiing to snowboarding, events schedules, and biographies of professional skiiers.|
|MLSnet.com-The Official Site of Major League Soccer Visit this website for info about stats and scores of major league soccer players and teams.|
|Cross Country Ski World Sponsored by the American Cross Country Skiers, this site provides information about ski equipment, techniques, workouts, and more.|
|T'ai chi Magazine This magazine has information about how t'ai chi may improve health.|
|American College of Sports Medicine This site has tips on staying safe while playing sports and exercising.|
|National Athletic Trainers' Association This site contains information on certified athletic trainers and tips on preventing and healing sports injuries.|
|American Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.|
|Pilates Method Alliance This organization provides information for those interested in the study, teaching, and certification of the pilates exercise methodology.|
|Connecting With Your Coach Get the most out of your chosen sport by building a strong relationship with your coach.|
|Sports Physicals Just as professional sports stars need medical care to keep them playing their best, so do teenage athletes. You can give yourself the same edge as the pros by making sure you have your sports physical.|
|Handling Sports Pressure and Competition Winning is all that matters when you play sports, right? Not when that means you can't even enjoy the game. Read about how to handle sports pressure and competition.|
|Advice for Athletes From a Gold-Medal Coach Bob Bowman coaches Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. He shares his thoughts on improving sports performance in this article for teens.|
|Cold-Weather Sports Don't let the chill of winter turn you into a couch potato! Read this article to learn about some cool winter sports.|
|5 Reasons for Girls to Play Sports Playing organized sports can help girls do better off the field as well as on. Find out how.|
|Sports and Exercise Safety Playing hard doesn't have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic career is to play it safe from the start. Find out how.|
|Sports Center This site has tips on things like preparing for a new season, handling sports pressure, staying motivated, and dealing with injuries.|
|Sportsmanship Some people define good sportsmanship as treating the people that you play with and against as you'd like to be treated yourself. Learn more about what good sportsmanship is all about.|
|5 Ways to Prepare for Your Sports Season How can you get ready to play your best season ever? Read these tips for teen athletes.|
|A Guide to Eating for Sports You've prepared for the game in almost every way possible: but now what should you eat? Read about performance foods, nutritional supplements, and more.|
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