9 Tips to Find Your Sport

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9 Tips to Find Your Sport
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When it comes to sports, the options are endless. From tennis and golf to running and cycling, there's something for almost everyone. But, how do you choose a sport that fits your personality? To help you figure this out, we asked a series of fitness and lifestyle experts. Here's what they told us.

Assess Your Likes and Dislikes
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Assess Your Likes and Dislikes

“People should look at what they enjoy in regular life to help them find their sport,” said Carrie Karkoska, certified health and wellness coach at Auburn Wellbeing. Do you like to be indoors or outdoors? Do you prefer to be hot or cold? Do you enjoy the experience, or is it all about getting the win? Would you rather be active individually or as part of a team? Assessing your mental and physical needs will help you narrow down the choices to get fit and stay active.

Determine Your Limitations
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Determine Your Limitations

Before jumping into a sporting activity, consider your physical goals and limitations. Karkoska recommends taking an honest look at what your body is prepared to do. “Do you want something that will make you sweat or would you be happy with minimal movement? Can your joints take a high-impact sport that involves running or should it be something lower impact like swimming or cycling?” asks Karkoska. Consulting with a physician should always be a priority before starting this or any sports or exercise regimen, particularly if you have any pre-existing health conditions.

Choose Between an Individual or Team Sport
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Choose Between an Individual or Team Sport

Consider whether or not you want to be part of a team when choosing a sport. Team sports may offer you the opportunity to meet others with similar interests, as you bond over a softball game, soccer match or football scrimmage. If you prefer time alone while sweating it out, consider cycling, swimming, running or even tennis to pass the time.

Decide If You Want a Leader
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Decide If You Want a Leader

When choosing group sports, it’s also important to assess your traits as a leader or follower. “If a person prefers a group setting where an individual is a clear leader, they'll likely prefer baseball, softball or football,” said Shawna Simpson, an Oklahoma-based certified running coach. “These sports have certain positions who control more of the game than others. For those who like a more equal distribution of tasks, sports like soccer, water polo, rowing and basketball may be more their style.”

Pick the Timing of Your Rewards
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Pick the Timing of Your Rewards

Many sports offer instant gratification while others unfold over a longer period of time. Consider your preferences with rewards when choosing a sport. “Many people are more strongly motivated by small, short-term goals,” said Simpson. Walking and running allow you to run a 5k or longer whenever you wish with immediate success. Tennis, rowing and handball also allow you to feel an immediate rush of competition. Simpson noted that sports like soccer, baseball and basketball offer more long term awards since the success is felt at the end of the season.

Pace Your Choices
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Pace Your Choices

How you prefer to spend your time is a significant factor in finding a sport that fits your personality. Are you laid back and leisurely with your time? Adam Torkildson of GolfGator recommends picking up a club and taking a swing. “Golf is one of the most leisurely sports done outdoors, but it's also one of the most intense,” he said. “It is usually a sport done at your own convenience.” Swimming and jogging are great for those who want to pace themselves and build up to more strenuous activities. You can squeeze in these activities if you only have 20-30 minutes.

Consider the Sports You Watch on TV
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Consider the Sports You Watch on TV

Karkoska recommends taking a stab at a sport you enjoy watching during the Olympics. “Maybe you will never be a gymnast, but perhaps taking up something like yoga would help you improve your inner gymnast,” she said. “Joining the local master’s swimming team would satisfy your inner Michael Phelps.”

See What's Available
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See What's Available

The sporting events and teams available in your area may narrow your choices a bit. See what’s out there to find a perfect fit. Many cities have community centers that offer most team sports, and you can sign up for as few or as many games or sessions as you wish, said Simpson. “Many gyms and community centers offer winter micro-leagues in sports such as soccer and baseball,” she said. “These are usually short seasons that allow you to try a sport for a few weeks before making a full-season commitment.”

Jump In
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Jump In

If you’re unsure about which sport will work for you, jump in and sample the sport before committing to a team or a goal. “I advise my clients to think of sports like a buffet,” said Simpson. “You’d never load up a plate with heaping piles of something if you didn’t think you liked it. It’s best to sample things and determine what you like before you make a tremendous investment.”

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