As evidenced by the popularity of the World Cup, soccer is the world’s most popular sport by a significant margin, with more than 3.5 billion people regularly playing or watching worldwide. Many factors have contributed to soccer’s success, including its simplicity and accessibility. You only need a ball, a net and a flat playing surface to enjoy the game in all its glory.
More importantly, soccer provides many physical, mental and social rewards. Here are five of the most impressive benefits of playing soccer.
Supports Your Mental Health
Soccer is an amazing mental health supporter. Playing sports causes your brain to release powerful endorphins that brighten your mood and help you overcome anxiety and depression. Physical exercise is the best medicine money can buy.
Soccer also presents a unique mental challenge compared to other sports. Sports like American football, basketball and hockey have become more high-scoring over the years. Soccer’s scoring output has remained the same, with teams at the highest levels rarely exceeding more than three goals in a match. Goals are much more difficult to score and thus more satisfying.
Ending a soccer game with no goals is a humbling experience, but it builds character. It forces players to prioritize the team’s overall performance instead of individual numbers. It teaches bravery, patience and determination. Soccer players fail to score over and over again, but they stay focused and keep pushing until they break through.
A healthy amount of adversity is a good and necessary thing for mental strength and stability. Without it, people would crumble under the slightest pushback and never accomplish anything worthwhile. Soccer teams face adversity throughout the match, slowly advancing the ball and failing countless times before scoring a goal.
Builds Well-Rounded Athleticism
The age-old debate about which sport has the best athletes isn’t much of a debate at all. Professional soccer players are the fittest athletes in the world because the sport requires an unmatched variety of abilities. The only other competitors who could compare are triathletes, cyclists, marathon runners and cross-country skiers.
For starters, soccer players run up to 9.5 miles in a single match. This distance is more than a mile longer than the average distance for football, tennis, basketball or baseball games. Players must have elite aerobic endurance, lower body strength and joint health. Substitutions are rare, so most players play the full 90 minutes.
Soccer players don’t have the use of their hands – except for goalies. They have to master kicking, heading, blocking and tackling all while trying not to touch the ball. Because of the limited scoring opportunities, they must also be able to accelerate and change directions quickly.
Soccer is also a team sport. The other sports mentioned only include individual competitions. Team sports require a whole different set of athletic abilities. Players must understand timing, spacing and strategy, all while in a perpetual state of exhaustion. Organized soccer is the ultimate athletic challenge.
Prevents Chronic Health Issues
Soccer’s steep athletic requirements mean its players are remarkably healthy. If you watch a high-level soccer match, you will notice that every player has a similar thin and toned body composition. Soccer keeps its players healthy in every way, preventing various chronic health issues that plague millions of people, such as:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
Soccer — and exercise in general — has also been found to lower the risk of certain cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer. Staying active is the recipe for a long, healthy life. Soccer is one of the best physical activities around.
Develops Communication Skills
A soccer game has 11 players on each side — 10 field players and one goalie. You can’t find this arrangement in any other sport. Additionally, the standard field is 100-by-130 yards. It’s extremely difficult to stay on the same page with 10 other people on such a gigantic playing surface. Soccer forces you to develop verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
Connects You to the World
Perhaps the best part about playing soccer is that it connects you with billions of people worldwide. It gives you a shared interest with all kinds of different cultures. You might not speak the same language or have the same customs, but you love the same sport. Sports have been bringing people together for millennia.
Keep Growing the Game
Soccer’s unmatched success isn’t an accident. Its numerous physical, mental and social challenges have captured the interest of almost half the world’s population. It is the quintessential team sport and continues to gain popularity. Keep growing the game so you can connect with other people and become the healthiest version of yourself.
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