Age and Sport. Is it just a number?

An early start is great...


I think everyone will agree that starting a sport when young is best. You have better flexibility, agility, speed and power. Quick, explosive movement is easier before your early 30s. Many athletes hit the peak of their performance between the ages of 20 and 30.

Athletes who start out early and make a commitment to a sport have more time to learn the ins and outs of the sport. They can practise more and with professional coaching can compete at the highest levels. These are the people who start badminton as soon as they can hold a racket, cycling when they get their first bike and archery when they learn that the shooting range is not for running around.

Not many of us are fortunate enough to have had this type of exposure, but that should not stop us from enjoying a sport nonetheless.


Don't let a late start stop you.


Although you may have missed your prime and chance to compete at a high level, nothing is stopping you from enjoying the sport of your choosing. Starting a sport later in life means that you will have to work harder and longer to achieve a good result, but you can still enjoy it and compete in lower leagues.

Psychologically, making the choice and becoming active becomes harder with age. If you start late you will need to learn to cope with challenges, setbacks and failures. If you become frustrated and angry, your performance is almost sure to deteriorate. Learning to refocus after a setback is very important and helps to keep your mind in the game.

Sometimes choosing a sport depends on your physical condition. A disability or injury may force you to choose a sport that you can still practise. The key is to have an open mind. You might have a difficult time playing rugby or climbing boulders, but easily take up archery or play badminton.


Benefits of being active


The benefits of being physically active include:
- reduced risk of chronic diseases. These include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, mental health problems and musculoskeletal problems.
- reducing psychological issues such as depression, anxiety and emotional disturbance.
- strengthens social networks and community identity.

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