Team Sports: Getting Started

I was never much one for competitive sports.

During school, P.E. was the only class that I didn’t take to.

Looking back now, I’m convinced that the reason I never really enjoyed sports as a child was because I wasn’t given a chance to play them with other kids outside of school. I spent the majority of my younger years studying or reading, rather than booting a football around or playing rough’n’tumble.

Despite not really taking to any kind of sports as a kid, I decided to try and get into one during my year off from work. With my newfound spare time I decided that I’d get fit and join a footie team. After my first season, training and playing with a bunch of complete strangers, I can’t claim to have any goals to my name, but I’m glad I’ve found a place in a new group of friends.

If you’re thinking about joining a sports team, here are a few helpful tips that could make things easier for you:

Find a Sport

This is the first big challenge. Obviously, if you’re already a fan of a particular sport then starting to play that one is the best idea. Unfortunately, many sports can be particularly taxing on the body, so it’s important to choose one that you’re physically capable of doing. Football can be hard on the joints, but its generally a good one to go for as there are ample teams to join throughout the UK and it’s a sport that requires minimal investment.

Tip: Always consider how much time you have to invest in your new sport. Whilst football matches only take 90 minutes, cricket games can last for as long as 8 hours!

Buy some Kit

Everyone has recurring nightmares of turning up to P.E. without their kit, so don’t be that guy that turns up to practice the first day without any gear! The internet is your friend here, take a look at the bare minimum that you’ll need to train with and always look to find used gear instead of new, as you might find out that the sport simply isn’t for you. It’s worth inquiring with your local sports club before you buy anything, they often have spare gear knocking around that you can borrow for a few sessions.

Tip: You can buy Nike trainers in wholesale at certain websites to get started, you can sell any spares at an online marketplace like eBay or Amazon to cover your costs.

Join a Team

Once you’ve got your gear together, it’s time to take arguably the most important step and join a team! Joining a sports club can be a nerve-wracking experience, you’re quickly introduced to a load of new people and then you’re tested based on your sporting ability. It’s worth considering the distance that you’ll need to travel to get to the club and remember that you may well need to travel long distances for away matches.

Tip: Take a deep breath before jumping into your first training session, remember that you’re here to play and have fun!

Play a Match

If you’ve made it through your pre-season training and are still up for playing then you’ll soon find yourself in your very first competitive match. Whether it’s a friendly, cup game or league match, the pressure will be on to perform so make sure that you get a good night’s sleep before. Keep a cool head when you’re playing and remember your training – regardless of the end score you should be proud of your achievement!

Tip: Make sure to take some extra cash to your first game so that you can buy your team mates a round of drinks after the game.

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Water Play: Safe, Summer Fun

It might feel a little late in the year to be discussing all the fun that you can have with water…

…but it’s still worth mentioning in case there are any international readers out there who are stuck for things to do in the summer heat.

When I was a kid, I remember wistfully looking out of the window during the summer at the other kids in the neighbourhood, racing around in their front gardens with water guns or jumping into the car with beach balls and towels, ready for a day at the beach or the pool.

My grandparents were a little too old to frolic with me in the back garden and they were always a little worried about letting me run out into the great unknown with neighbours – I guess they’d read some horror stories in the tabloids about kids going missing and couldn’t bear the thought of the same happening to me.

Thankfully I managed to catch up on years of water play this summer with my family and I thought I’d share some of the things we got up to, in case you were thinking about buying a swimming pool for next summer or simply planning out your next big holiday abroad.

Water Fights

Although they sound rather violent, a good water fight can be just the thing to cool off on a hot summer’s day and it can be a great way of exercising too! I found that there are a few key components necessary to making a good water fight. As much as you can have a lot of fun with just the two of you, there’s a lot to be said for getting a big group together.

To make the chaos that much more fun you can also consider buying a wide variety of weapons such as water guns, balloons and even sponges to mix things up!

Safety Tip: Make sure that there are towels on hand, that you’re outside and everyone has grippy shoes on to avoid slips.

Casual Pool Games

Swimming pools present a great opportunity to fool around and have a laugh with your family. Thanks to my job in property management, I managed to score a few days in private pools this year and got to try out a few games that I’d heard of. Marco Polo is a classic game that can be played with two people. If you have more people in your party then you can think about playing Shark and Minnows (a simple game of tag). Older kids and adults can also exercise caution and carry each other on their shoulders, this is known as a Chicken Fight.

Safety Tip: Make sure that all swimming pool covers are removed before get the kids in the area, jumping onto these can be dangerous.

Water Sports

There are a number of more competitive sports that you can play in a medium-sized pool, these usually require a few bits of kits but can prove to be a great way of passing some time and creating some friendly rivalries between friends. Games like water polo require goals and, if possible, a level swimming pool. If you don’t have the resources for these then you can always by a cheap waterproof projectile like a Waboba ball, Nerf Vortex or beach ball and play a simple game of catch!

Safety Tip: It’s important that players are matched physically in these games, if not then younger players are at risk of getting injured.

Extreme Water Fun

There are certain water-based activities that you simply can’t do in the comfort of your own back garden – should you wish to take your water based play to the next level, you can take your family to a water park or indoor water adventure centre. Huge slides, fountain jets, wave machines, rubber dinghy rapids – the variety of activities are endless and I’ve not even mentioned the likes of kayaking, rafting or sailing!

Safety Tip: Whenever you take your kids to a public place make sure they know where the life guards are and where to meet you if they get lost.…

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Getting Outside: Extreme Family Activities

Outdoor pursuits have never been more popular and for good reason.

When once derring dos such as scaling cliff edges or cycling down rough forest trails were reserved for adventurous Indiana Jones-types, today, thanks to numerous adventure companies, anyone can have a crack at them.

In the last 20 years or so the nature of the outdoors holiday has changed completely. The tents and sited caravans have got more spacious and comfortable, the equipment that we cook on has got more efficient and it feels like every year there’s a new kind of fun activity that you can try your hand at.

Holidays, when I was a sprog, consisted of our odd little family trundling up the road to a campsite with my Granddad’s old battered Force 10 canvas tent, struggling to heat up a can of beans and then struggling even harder to go to sleep as both my Grandparents competed to out-snore each other. Thankfully my camping holidays have improved somewhat since then!

With so many fun activities that you can get involved with these days, it can be hard to make your mind up as to what you should try. As with all outdoor play activities, you’ll need to make sure that your entire party is comfortable with taking part and that they meet whatever height restrictions that the instructors set.

Mountain Biking

Britain is home to some great mountain biking trails that offer a healthy mix of challenging inclines, varied terrain and fun downhill sprees. Your party will need to all be proficient cyclists and you should thoroughly research your route before you embark on it, so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s also imperative that you’re wearing the correct protection gear. Falls can be quite common place on these trails so you should wear knee pads and elbow pads on top of the standard helmet – just to be safe.

Safety Tip: Always carry lights, pump and repair kits on you – just in case!

Kayaking & Canoeing

I’ve already mentioned how much fun playing in water can be, but have you considered taking your water play out onto the open water? Kayaking or canoeing can be just the thing to spice up your family holiday. You can usually rent them from vendors at the beach for 45 minutes to an hour at a time, or you ca book a half day session with an instructor who will take you through the basics and then guide you on your very own aquatic adventure!

Safety Tip: The boat vendor should always include life jackets with your vessel, don’t go on the water without one.

Archery

A sport that is often overlooked by many, archery is a fun hobby that can be easy to pick up in the space of just a couple of hours. You can purchase archery sets online through popular vendors, though it’s always a good idea to get instruction before you try your hand at it. There are loads of places that you can grab a bow and arrow at across the UK, but it’s always best to get some form of instruction before you try attempting to hunt any rabbits…

Safety Tip: It’s vital that you follow the instructor’s commands, the tips of the arrows might be blunt but they can still deal great damage to people.

Rock Climbing

There’s a vibrant rock climbing scene in the UK, supported by a network of thousands of climbers who constantly share their climbs through sites like UKClimbing.com. Once more, this is the kind of activity where an instructor is absolutely essential. There are loads of indoor climbing centres where you can take your family to get to grips with the basics before heading outdoors to tackle a real cliff face – equipment hire is usually cheap, just make sure that all your gear is thoroughly tested and in good nick before you do anything!

Safety Tip: Make sure your instructor is properly licensed and certified before you head out on your excursion.…

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