Do you have to be an athlete to be a “master” athlete? Luckily the answer is No!
Whether you are a former elite athlete or a newcomer to a sport, there are more options than ever before for you to start (or start again) in your sport of choice.
Many sports groups are now realizing that there is a huge opportunity for growth in an area other than training kids…training their parents, aunts, uncles and even grandparents. Today, an increasing number of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond are taking up sports – either recreationally or competitively. Many people in this age group realize that fitness and health is important – from overall health and disease prevention to stress reduction and psychological well-being. Some of these are taking up a specific sport for the first time. This group of “masters” realize that sports are way more fun than simply hitting the gym for the same old monotonous routine.
It can be argued that this group is far more adventurous than those of this age group thirty years ago. Gone are the days of parents wanting to live vicariously through the activities and accomplishments of their children. These parents want to achieve these accomplishments for themselves now, regardless of their age and fitness level. They want to be a part of the action, a part of the fun. They are willing to try new things and step out of their comfort zones. If they fall trying, they are much more willing to laugh at themselves, get up and try again rather than being humiliated and giving up.
I personally am much more daring than I was in my teens and twenties. Although I was an elite athlete, I was not confident in my athleticism. Today I am willing to get out there and try. I know that I am not going to be the Mickelson of golf or the Williams of tennis and that is totally OK. I see the benefit of participating in sport for its own sake. I am going to try things that allow me to break a sweat, challenge me and have fun all at the same time.
For those people that are currently sedentary and looking to get fit, sport may be the best answer. For if you are going to exercise, it is much more appealing to do something fun or to do what you loved to do as a kid, rather than going to an intimidating gym.
In addition to all of the health and fitness benefits, there is also a benefit to your social well-being. Sports, whether individual or team based, are social by design. They are set up for interaction. This is unlike a gym where a person trainer may be the only person you talk to during your workout (assuming you have the luxury of hiring a personal trainer). In sport, you are either a part of a class – usually including partner drills or activities, or in a team based sport where social interaction is inherent and necessary.
If you decide to try a sport and discover you are great at it, you may decide to become a competitive athlete. No, it is not too late to compete in many sports. In fact there are a number of sports that cater specific competitions to master categories of athletes. For example, there are the FINA World Masters Championships which have separate “decade” age groupings of competition in the four aquatic sports of swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo. There are also World Senior Games which host over 25 different sports for those over the age of 50 to compete in. This year’s games are being held in October in St. George, Utah and have a perfectly suited tag line – “Challenge yourself…challenge the world”. Love it!
So if you are a sport group or organization, do you have a program for this group of “masters”? If not, why not? If you do, what are you doing to promote it?
If you are reading this and you are thinking that trying a sport is something you would like to do, do it now. Don’t put it off. Take the first step by looking into programs in your area. Search engines, social media and word of mouth are your best bets for research. There is never a better time to do something great for YOU to work toward becoming your ‘best self’ and be active for life!