The FIFA World Cup 2018 is currently in full swing in Russia. Football crazed fans are watching their favorite teams compete against each other. This is a good time to talk about how playing sports at any age is good for health. The physical benefits are many. Improved hand eye coordination, building of strength and stamina, and so on. The psychological benefits of playing sports are lesser discussed.
 
Children diagnosed with hyperactivity or attention deficit disorders are often encouraged to play sports. Sports help them channel all their energy into a positive outcome. The same goes for adults. High stress work environments, relationship issues, and general pressures of every day life find result in anger and frustration. While these emotions could lead to destructive behavior, channeling this energy into a sport could be beneficial.
 
Practicing a sport, whether individual or group, will lead to positive feelings. These could be feelings of accomplishment, achievement, and satisfaction. Winning competitions, medals, and trophies lead to the first two feelings mentioned. They contribute to an increase in overall positive mood, thus reducing the presence of negative emotions. The growth the individual sees in himself/herself over the course of learning the sport and performing in it leads to the feeling of satisfaction. In a way, these feelings can be divided based on the motivation driving the individual.
 
Extrinsic motivation is when the individual is motivated by external factors such as winning a medal or trophy. When goals are reached through this type of motivation, individuals feel a sense of accomplishment or achievement. On the other hand, the individual could simply be motivated by the enjoyment he/she feels. When goals are reached through this type of motivation, the individual feels satisfied. These are not the only emotions that one feels while playing a sport.
 
Competing itself can be a stressful situation in which there are extremes of emotions ranging from anger to disappointment to euphoria. Playing team sports teaches one how to control these emotions to perform optimally and not lose track of the goal. These lessons can then be applied in the future in high stress work situations as well. Sports also teach one how to be a team player and work for the benefit of the group and not the self. Playing with and against people of different temperaments and skill sets helps in improving socialization skills. Additionally, how to persevere till a goal is achieved, be patient to see progress, and be resilient in the face of failure are just a few other benefits that contribute to a strong, well rounded personality
 
Lastly, playing a sport helps the individual develop a sense of self-identity. The identity that a sportsperson forms is known as an athletic identity. This identity defines how the person is viewed in society, and is self created. The identity is developed based on the athlete’s performance, skills, and interactions. The way the athlete views their own identity plays a key role in other aspects such as self-esteem, self-confidence, and motivation. The stronger the athletic identity, the higher the self-confidence and self-esteem of the individual
 
No matter how old (or young) you are, it is never too late to pick up a sport! Not all sports have to be competitive. It is a great way for you to let your mind relax and rejuvenate to prepare for the next day!

Ashvita has just completed her undergraduate degree from FLAME University, a Liberal Education school situated in Pune. Having pursued a major in psychology and a minor in advertising and branding over the course of the last four years, she hopes to implement her learning from both these areas of study into her work.