5 Great Contact Sports and Why they are Good for You

Sports require you to move your body, and it’s a commonly known fact that exercise is good for your health (physical and mental). Various research has shown that physical activity helps control weight, combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy, and promotes better sleep. Contact sports allow for other areas to also be developed such as social skills as players are being required to act as a team but also respect their opponents. While non-contact sports have very clear rules, that quite simply players can not touch one another, contact sports mean that players can touch but are required to control themselves at the moment so that they are not hurting one another or doing something that puts themselves and their team at an unfair advantage. This requires more attention and self-discipline.  

 

Brazilian jiu-jitsu 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport based on ground fighting and submission holds. It focuses on the skill of taking an opponent to the ground, controlling one’s opponent, gaining a dominant position, and using a number of techniques to force them into submission via joint locks or chokeholds- picking the right headgear is important. BJJ is good for you as it teaches you self-defense techniques but is especially effective for defending yourself in the safest way possible. Not only this, but it teaches confidence and strength.  

 

American Football 

American football is a team sport, involving 2 teams consisting of 11 players, and the intention is to score goals. While this is the same as football in the UK, the games are played very differently- American Football being a contact sport and football in the UK being quite the opposite. The combination of running, walking, sprinting, and kicking can bring benefits including increased stamina, improved cardiovascular health, reduced body fat, improved muscle strength and tone, increased bone strength, and improved coordination. This is alongside learning to be a good team player.  

 

Ice Hockey 

Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice, usually in an indoor or outdoor rink, in which two teams of skaters use their sticks to shoot a rubber puck into their opponent’s net to score goals. Ice Hockey is one of the best cardiovascular games you can play. Alternating between skating and rest (what is known as interval training in the fitness world) improves the efficiency of the cardiovascular system, allowing it to bring oxygen to the muscles more quickly. 

 

Kick Boxing 

Kickboxing is a stand-up combat sport based on kicking and punching, historically developed from karate mixed with boxing. Kickboxing is practiced for self-defense, general fitness, or as a contact sport. Kickboxing provides an aerobic workout that burns calories and can help you lose weight. Research shows that elite and amateur kickboxers have more muscle mass and lower percentages of body fat. It is also great for self-defense and strength- not only of the body but also of the mind.  

 

Water Polo 

Water polo is a competitive team sport played in the water between two teams of 7 players each. The game consists of four quarters in which the two teams attempt to score goals by throwing the ball into the opposing team’s goal. Water polo is good for you as players can burn up to 700 calories per one hour of play and research has shown improved Cardiovascular Health. It improves strength but is also easy on your joints as the water act as a cushion on joints and muscles, preventing injury and general aches and pains associated with traditional fitness. Teamwork and good communication are vital for success in water polo. Another benefit of playing water polo is that it’s great at developing problem-solving.

Winter Olympics: How to Train for the Coldest Games

The Winter Olympic Games is a major international multi-sport event held once every four years for sports practiced on snow and ice. The majority of the athletes that travel to these cold countries to compete in their sport are not used to a cold climate, and therefore it may be seen that they are at a disadvantage and will not excel. A lot of outdoor athletes would say it’s better to tough it out and train in the cold. They argue that it strengthens your immune system and provides vitamin D and fresh air. But even the bravest of winter warriors know the risks: The winter brings a greater chance of injury, bad weather, and less light. However, there are ways of training for the Winter Olympics that will allow the athletes to reach their optimum potential.  

 

Beating the cold- climatize 

It is a good idea, if possible, to arrive in the country you will be training and competing in earlier than you need to be there so that your body has time to adjust to the change in the climate. Research has shown that it takes around 2 weeks for your body to climatize to an extreme weather change, so if it is possible for you to do so then definitely spend some time allowing your body to adjust! However, of course, this is not always practical and realistic, especially for an athlete with a busy schedule, so the next step may be more suitable for you.  

 

 

Clothing 

Definitely make sure that you equipped with clothing that is going to keep you warm in the coldest conditions- even if this means packing for the worst and not ending up wearing as many layers as you had previously planned. If you are cold, you are likely to be distracted which will prevent you from performing at your best- particularly if your sport requires a steady hand- you don’t want to be shaking like a leaf! You can find some great clothing and equipment for the cold weather at Snow Gaper.

 

Technology 

This one could be linked to clothing, as there is clothing that is enhanced with technology, designed to maintain body temperature (mainly of athletes) to achieve peak performance. Research has found that increasing clothing insulation via electrical heating pads within a garment during a warm-up and immediately after a sprint has positive benefits on performance. 

 

Work hard in the summer 

Just because you are going to be competing in the Winter Olympics where it will be very cold, this is not to say you shouldn’t bother training hard in the summer! Although there is no way of knowing who will scoop up medals at the Winter Games it’s already pretty clear who won’t- those athletes who didn’t sweat buckets, hone their skills, and perfect new tricks long before, in the summer. When vacationers hit the summer beaches, winter athletes need to be hitting the gym! A medal at the Olympic Games in February is primarily won with work done in the summer.