For anyone who’s ever participated in any kind of sport, you’ll know they provide some of life’s biggest lessons. Indeed, the world of sport, whether it be team or individual, is packed full of life lessons. Win, lose, or draw, participate, play or attend, there’s so much more to this merry dance than the final score. Yep, culturally, historically and personally, sports are so important. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL life lessons that sports can teach us.

A SENSE OF BELONGING

Sports gives you a sense of belonging, both making you feel like you are part of something bigger and allowing you realise how insignificant your problems are, all at once. Often times in life we may feel out of place or not know what our purpose is. But when you’re part of a team that is striving for the same goal, it makes you feel more connected to your teammates. Having a sense of belonging is a common human need and gives value to your life. Thank god for sport!

TEAMWORK

Teamwork makes the dream work, indeed. Sports are invaluable, particularly in childhood, in teaching you how to work with others effectively, efficiently and co-operatively. With finding a productive, workable solution as a unit being the goal of sport, life lessons are imbedded early on, allowing everyone to recognise and value their unique set of strengths and weaknesses. As the old saying so rightly puts it, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’.

HOW TO WIN & LOSE GRACIOUSLY 

Life doesn’t always go your way, and disappointment as much as jubilation is inevitable. To enjoy a happy, contented life, you have to accept both with a clear head a good deal of grace. Sport teaches us to take self-confidence and pride from the wins, and learn lessons from the losses. But even more than that, it teaches us to do both graciously. To stay humble, play sport.

A STRONG SENSE OF DISCIPLINE

When done right, sports teaches you self-discipline. Because in order for you to be successful in sports – as in life – you need to work hard at it on a day in, day out basis, with devotion and dedication. Whether it be putting in the extra time after practice, staying on track with your diet, or studying up on the playbook, there are great lessons in discipline to be learnt from top sportspeople. These transcend sport and apply to all walks of life.

RESPECT

As the great playwright Christopher Earle once implored; “be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.” Indeed, regardless of the outcome, sports are all about respect, with a sturdy handshake exchanged at the end, win or lose. Respect for your coach, teammates, opponents and officials, regardless of their status or title, can be translated to a positive, healthy attitude to people from all walks in life in the real world. And we could all do with a little more of that, right?