The sport of basketball is much more than a game for many people across the globe; fans of basketball have built a lifestyle and a culture around the sport that transcends the court and ball. While basketball can be a good form of physical exercise, its benefits far surpass just a good cardio workout; it may even make you a better person.
Basketball can help you become a better person by keeping you healthy both mentally and physically, keeping you mentally agile, reducing your stress levels, and teaching you about communication, leadership, teamwork, and sportsmanship.
While some people may see basketball as a child’s game or something to watch on television, others see the value it can bring to one’s life. Keep reading to better understand how vital of an impact basketball can have on the rest of your life.
What Are Some Parts of Life That Basketball Influences?
There are many facets of life that the sport of basketball can influence and improve. Some of these can include:
- Physical fitness
- Mental health
- Communication skills
- Leadership and teambuilding
On top of the physical benefits of staying active and building a strong cardiovascular base due to the amount of running involved, basketball can impart important lessons about good values and basic human decency. Under a well-intentioned coach, you can also learn things like improving your confidence, working better with others, or developing a sense of purpose by achieving self-assigned goals. You can even learn respect, patience, and what good sportsmanship means to a team.
Playing Basketball Improves Your Health
Basketball can have extremely positive effects on your physical health and level of physical fitness. The average game of basketball can help you burn up to 750 calories in just an hour. Some health benefits of consistently playing basketball are:
- Increased muscle and bone strength
- Improved balance
- Improved cardiovascular health
These are just a few of the health benefits that basketball can aid in improving. As with any physical exercise, it is crucial to stay at a comfortable pace and not over-exert yourself. Always understand your body’s limitations and when it’s safe—or not safe—to push them.
Basketball is a sport that places your muscles and bones, particularly in your legs, under high amounts of stress and physical excursion. While this may sound damaging, it can immensely benefit your overall muscle and bone strength and development.
Basketball consists of fast pace, stop-and-go running, and jumping. Fast cuts, sprints, and strong contact are common occurrences in every game; this physicality aids in building and strengthening muscle and muscular endurance.
Wrist, arm, upper leg, lower leg, and hip muscles are just some of the muscles strengthened by constant running and jumping. Building strength in these muscle groups helps stabilize daily movement, burn more daily calories, and prevent future injuries brought on by aging.
Movement, in general, is important for bone health. If you include sports that involve a high amount of jumping, like basketball, in your regular health regimen, your bone density can increase by over 1%. Developing a larger bone density can be fundamental in fighting off diseases like osteoporosis.
Due to the high amounts of leg extension, running, and jumping, leg joints are notably strengthened by basketball. This is powerful because almost 30% of adults report some sort of knee and/or hip pain.
Remember, a high volume of exercise like basketball is important for bone and muscle health but can also lead to injury. Ensure to stretch before and after playing and understand your body’s cues of when to push yourself and when to rest.
Basketball does not just involve forward and backward movement. Lateral, side-to-side movements are integral to success in basketball. Due to the repeated stopping and moving in different directions, your balance has to be continually established and reestablished. Subsequently, it should be no surprise that basketball players have some of the best balance abilities of all athletes.
Good balance not only keeps you from falling but it aids in preventing dozens of injuries. Injuries like rolled or sprained ankles and knee injuries drastically decrease with greater balance ability. This is important to note because sprained ankles and knee injuries are the most common among basketball players.
Increased balance not only helps prevent these injuries but also makes the rehabilitation of these injuries faster.
Some basketball drills to help improve balance abilities and prevent injury are jump-back shooting drills, lunges, and pivot drills.
Unsurprisingly, cardiovascular health is largely impacted by the constant state of running and stopping in basketball. The average professional basketball player runs over 2.5 miles in a single game.
Adding basketball to your training has been linked to lower artery pressure, lower heart rates, and increased oxygen intake. These factors can decrease your chances of heart disease and even strokes.
For many people, cardio workouts can be boring, and therefore they are much less likely to participate in them. Basketball adds in a competitive perspective. This can lead to it being looked at as more of a game and less of a workout, with the same added cardiovascular benefits as a two to three-mile run.
Basketball Positively Affects Your Brain
Most sports are good for your muscles, but can they be good for your brain? The answer is yes. Playing basketball is exceptionally good for your brain and brain activity. This can be attributed to both the strategic planning involved in playing basketball and the physical chemicals that your brain can release while playing.
Basketball involves planning, playmaking, and strategy. Sure, if you play a game of pick-up basketball with friends, you can just pass and shoot without drafting up some official plays. However, even the brain activity required to decide who to pass it to and when to pass it involves strategy. These strategic decisions sharpen planning skills, selective attention, and sensorimotor skills, allowing you to process information faster and more efficiently.
The brain also releases chemicals called endorphins while playing basketball. Endorphins can cause you to feel happiness, relieve pain, and work as stress-relievers. The rapid changes in circumstances during a basketball game can also cause significant activity in your prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that controls things like:
- Decision making
- Reflexive behavior
- Emotional responses
Keeping this part of your brain active during basketball works as a type of brain exercise to keep your mind sharp and alert far after you have left the court.
How Basketball Affects Mental Health
Much like any game, basketball can be used as an escape from the everyday burdens that can be found in your daily life. This is a much healthier alternative than substance abuse or other addictions that can plague a person mentally and physically for their entire lifetime. Basketball not only releases chemicals that make you happy, like dopamine and endorphins, but it also works as a stress reliever and confidence builder.
While confidence may suffer initially due to practicing a new skill, after discipline is applied consistently, these new skills can be mastered, causing confidence to increase. With increased self-confidence, your mental health and self-esteem can almost immediately improve.
On top of the chemical and emotional positives, basketball is exercise. This exercise can aid in better sleeping habits needed for the body and mind to recover fully, which can also help in reducing stress.
Basketball Makes You Disciplined
Mental and physical discipline go together. You need to be mentally strong to keep yourself physically disciplined. Luckily, when you work on physical disciplines, like working out, you also train your mind to be disciplined.
If you want to learn how to dribble better, you need to push yourself harder than you have previously. If you continue doing what you did before, you will not see improvement. This means you need to do more drills, more dribbling, and more practice. With that hard work comes the temptation to take days off or not work as hard as you possibly can.
Training your mind to push past its limits is building both mental and physical discipline. One tool that you may use to do this is visualization. Using your imagination to see yourself improving or how you would feel if you stopped working can help either fuel yourself to work hard or guilt yourself into putting in the work needed to not feel negative about yourself.
Building a strong headspace allows you to focus and execute your growing physical discipline. This is the case whether you want to become a better shooter in basketball or become more productive during your workday. Staying focused and denying temptations is much easier said than done.
After developing a strong mindset, physically showing up and putting in the work is the next step. If you want to develop a better jump shot, you can watch all the tutorial videos and read every article that is available to you. However, your jump shot will never improve until you get a basketball in your hands and start putting what you have learned into practice.
Telling yourself that you want to change is a big step in committing to that change. Building a positive attitude toward the work you want to put in is valuable. Basketball teaches you that talking and doing are different things. Some people will say they work hard and that they want success more than anyone else. Fewer people will wake up at 4 a.m. to practice alone before the team practice like Kobe Bryant did for his entire career.
Many basketball coaches will use physical discipline as a form of punishment. If the team ran the wrong play, the team must run fifty sprints. This teaches both team and individual accountability. This thought process can be put into practice to bring you closer to those around you in your life.
If one person in a business fails, the entire business fails. This is not to put that person on the spot or make them feel guilty. It can be used to bring a team, business, or family closer and to ensure that everyone is lending a helping hand to whoever needs, whenever they need it.
Basketball Helps Develop Communication Skills
As is the case at your job or in your relationships, open communication leads to more success on the basketball court. Whether you are calling out the name of a play or a teammate you are passing to, communication is the basis for progress.
In basketball, you learn to communicate with your teammates about what you see, what the other team could do next, or what you want your teammates to do next. Without verbal communication, like talking about what you see, and nonverbal communication, like hand signals or head nods, your basketball team will fail.
Communication can enlighten teammates to something they may not see, like a screen or a defender behind them. It can also instill confidence in your teammates. If you positively reinforce a good play, you tell your teammates what you want them to continue to do while also building their morale.
This translates to life as well. The communication skills you learn on the court can positively impact your relationships off the court. An open line of communication sets priorities and expectations so that the person you are engaging with does not have to guess what is expected of them. This leads to smoother interactions and gives them the confidence to be more comfortable communicating their intentions.
Basketball Teaches Leadership
Basketball is a fantastic way to teach leadership. A good leader is someone that exhibits:
- Knowledge and understanding
A leader on the basketball court holds him/herself responsible for the wins and losses of every game. This is not to say that this leader takes all the blame. Rather, this leader will help the entire team recognize the things that went right and the things that could improve on an individual level and a team level.
These leadership opportunities in a game of basketball can be transferred and applied to anything in life. At work, a good manager takes accountability and uses mistakes as teaching moments. Basketball gives you the chance to practice holding yourself and others accountable while maintaining respect and sportsmanship.
Motivating your team when you are down by a large margin or going into a game as an underdog is no easy feat. However, it is a sign of a good leader. If you can motivate your team as a whole unit and individually, success is inevitable.
This can be seen off the court in bosses that do not micromanage. Inspire your team to reach their goals without putting an insurmountable amount of pressure on their shoulders.
If you are the point guard of your basketball team, designated to call the plays and ensure they run smoothly, being confident is extraordinarily necessary. A leader that is unsure about their decisions is leading her/his team to failure.
Being confident does not mean you have the most skill or are the smartest or most talented. Confidence can be seen in preparation. If you prepare yourself and your team for things to go wrong, you will not be caught off guard if they do. In basketball, a leader can recognize different opportunities when they arise and have the confidence to act upon them.
Good leadership is seen by instilling confidence in your teammates. If you can make the people around you just as confident as you are, fewer obstacles will stand in the way of your success.
Knowledge and Understanding
Basketball has rules and regulations that all players and coaches must adhere to. If you do not understand the game’s rules, you cannot successfully lead your team to victory. You would not choose a captain that does not understand the difference between a two-point shot and a three-point shot. If you want to be a good leader on the basketball court, you should learn the ins and outs of the game.
This can translate to life outside of basketball as well. Understanding a project and its parameters means you are prepared to tell your team your expectations and answer any questions they may have. This does not mean that you know everything there is to know.
Having knowledge and understanding means you are not afraid to admit when you do not know something. However, good leaders will seek out the answers needed to inform themselves as well as their team. Keeping yourself well-informed means keeping your team well-informed.
Basketball Can Teach You Values
Basketball can teach everyone involved in the game valuable lessons and uphold positive values. These lessons and values may include:
Sports often demand respect for coaches and officials, and players alike. Basketball is no different. If you find yourself being disrespectful, opposing teams may take offense and begin to play more physically, coaches may take you out of the game entirely, and teammates can refuse to pass to you.
Respect in sports can also be earned, just like in life. You may be smaller than most people on the court or maybe even less skilled, but by playing hard and remaining determined, you can earn the respect you deserve.
The notion of respect on the basketball court goes together with sportsmanship. If you want to receive respect, you must give respect. This life lesson transcends the game of basketball but is reinforced with every dribble, shot, pass, and game.
Respecting the game of basketball means respecting the rules. This means being punctual, knowing and understanding the rules, and applying those rules fairly.
Respecting the game also means respecting your teammates and opponents. Basketball allows for considerable amounts of human interaction. Every interaction with a teammate or opponent is an opportunity to treat another human being with dignity and compassion. This is not always easy, especially within a game as physical as basketball. It can be easy to lose control.
Sportsmanship instills respect for yourself and others. These are lessons that are very easily applied to your life outside of basketball. If you use basketball as practice for sportsmanship, you may find that as you treat people with more respect, they return the favor.
Upholding sportsmanship in your play can also mean not arguing calls that do not go your way or team decisions that you may disagree with. These opportunities help you practice restraint. This does not mean that you cannot speak up. Voicing your opinion calmly and respectfully is the embodiment of sportsmanship, on and off the basketball court.
Being a good sport means being a selfless player.
Basketball is a team sport. No one player can win a game on their own. As a young child in basketball camp or your first practice, most people learn how to pass before they learn how to shoot. This highlights how much of a collaborative effort basketball is.
While individual plays can make a difference in a game, they very rarely can overcome the benefits of good teamwork. Passing the ball, sharing an opportunity for someone else to succeed other than yourself, is as selfless as you can be on the basketball court.
Take this lesson of being selfless into your everyday life. Allow others to succeed through your actions. Handing over the reins may be difficult for some people, but practice makes perfect. What better way to exercise this skill than playing basketball?
Being a selfless player, and in turn, a selfless person, takes patience.
You may think that basketball is too fast-paced for it to instill patience in the player. This could not be farther from the truth. For starters, no one is NBA-worthy the first time they pick up a basketball. Developing and mastering skills takes time. Having the patience to understand that getting better will not happen overnight is half of the battle.
While running the floor quickly can be smart in some situations, slowing the game down and being more patient also have their advantages. Forcing passes or shots from bad positions very rarely results in a positive result. There are times when you must be patient and wait for a play to develop before you can put your ideas into motion.
Patience is a virtue. Learning to be patient with teammates can teach you to be patient with your family or coworkers. Not everyone can learn or run at the same speed. It is an important life lesson that basketball reinforces with every play.
Even after being patient, things do not always go the way you wanted them to, which leads us to our last point:
The Value of Losing
Winning is the goal of any game that you play. Basketball is no different. Nonetheless, losing is a part of life, as well as a part of basketball. Understanding that failure is a part of success is one of the most critical values that basketball can teach.
Seeing your mistakes and learning from them, instead of dwelling on what went wrong, can transform how you see your failures. In basketball, this can mean studying what plays did not work, what shots you should not have taken, and analyzing everything that went wrong so that positive change can be enacted next time. In life, this can mean knowing what not to put in your next report at work or what not to say on your next date.
Michael Jordan, the most notable basketball player of all time, did not make the varsity team his sophomore year of high school. He did not give up because tryouts did not go his way that year. He worked even harder and used that failure to spark motivation to be better throughout his high school, college, and even professional career.
Basketball gives you the gift of loss so that you can train your mind to use that loss to fuel your future successes.
Basketball can teach you a wide variety of skills and values, ranging from physical fitness to strong mental health. A simple game of getting a ball through a hoop can change your outlook on life. Basketball can aid you in building a strong mind, body, and spirit. However, these skills and principles will not develop by accident. Nobody betters their life by happenstance. It is up to you to continue to develop these skills if you want to put them to further use than just the basketball court.
Use the lessons and values that basketball has given you to become a better person in all aspects of your life, whether that is in the gym, in your relationships, or at work. If you put forth the effort to maintain the skills and lessons the game of basketball has given you, you will come out a better person on the other side.
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