When people think of sports that are beneficial to the body and mind, soccer is usually near the top of the list. This high-energy, team-based sport can help players of all ages improve their lives in a variety of ways.
These are 20 plus benefits of playing soccer.
1. Improves cardiovascular health
The first ‒ and arguably the most important ‒ benefit of soccer is that it improves your cardiovascular health. Consistent running is one of the best things you can do for your heart, and playing in relatively intense 90-minute soccer matches will force you to do a ton of running.
2. Lowers body fat
While getting rid of body fat is primarily accomplished with a change in diet, the calorie-burning effects of playing soccer will certainly help you chop off those unwanted pounds.
3. Improve muscle tone
Enhancing your muscle tone is something that goes hand-in-hand with the calorie-burning cardio we just mentioned. Muscle tone improvement will be most noticeable in the legs, as those are the main muscles you’ll be using.
4. Improves bone strength
A study conducted by the University of Missouri found that running is great for preventing the loss of bone mineral density. The researchers found that it’s even better for bone health than resistance training, which has long been the gold standard for building bone health.
5. Improves muscle strength
In addition to toning your muscles, a consistent habit of playing soccer will also strengthen your muscles. Again, these benefits will primarily target the leg muscles, but your core and back muscles will see some strength improvements as well.
6. Decreases anxiety
Mental health isn’t something that most people typically consider when thinking about the benefits of soccer. The benefits are there nonetheless; running and interacting with other people can both be great ways to diminish anxiety. As a cardio-based team sport, soccer covers both of those bases.
7. Decreases depression
Just as it can help with anxiety, soccer can also help with depression. The same things that lessen anxiety in many people ‒ exercise and socialization ‒ can also lessen depression. If you’ve been dealing with depression for a while, joining a local soccer team might be a good way to lessen the negative effects.
8. Helps you make friends
Making friends can be one of the hardest things to do in life. The camaraderie built during difficult practices and hard-won games is great for building bonds and converting teammates into good friends.
9. Improves your confidence
When you first start playing soccer, you probably won’t really know what you’re doing. With consistent practice, you will improve your knowledge of the game and increase your athletic ability. This will provide real, tangible proof that you are capable of self-improvement, and this realization will inevitably increase your confidence level.
10. Playing doesn’t break the bank
Many sports require you to buy a bunch of expensive equipment before you can begin playing them. This isn’t the case with soccer ‒ all you really need is a ball and some goal markers. To play at a “professional” level, you’ll need cleats and access to a soccer field, but even these things are affordable and readily available.
11. Easy to learn
Soccer is one of the easiest games to learn on the planet. It’s really simple ‒ just kick the ball in the other team’s goal without letting them kick the ball into your goal. You won’t have to waste time learning a bunch of intricate rules. You can just pick up and start playing.
12. Learn how to work in a team
Teamwork is an essential skill for every person to learn. Working toward a common goal for 90 minutes straight alongside 10 other people ‒ as you would in a soccer match ‒ is an excellent way to improve your teamwork skills.
13. Improves your coordination
Soccer requires you to run, kick a ball, fend off opponents, and look around at the other players’ positions all at the same time. You will inevitably improve your coordination as you learn to juggle all of these tasks simultaneously.
14. Learn about other countries
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. When you start getting into all of the other leagues and teams that exist on the professional side of the sport, you will also begin to learn about the cultures and mannerisms of other countries.
15. Join a community of billions
Billions of people play or follow soccer all around the world. When you get into soccer and start learning the rules and teams, you’re opening a door to friendship and conversation no matter where in the world you travel to.
16. Understand the World Cup better
The FIFA World Cup is one of the most exciting sporting events on the planet. If you don’t follow or understand soccer, you’re missing out on something really special. Getting into soccer and learning the rules will enable you to watch and enjoy the World Cup with a greater level of appreciation.
17. Less chance of injury
While soccer is a contact sport, the chance of serious injury is much less than it is in other contact sports. Although more physical sports like American football and ice hockey have lots of extra padding, the hard hits that are allowed in these games make them much more dangerous than soccer is.
18. Learn how to be a good winner
Learning how to win in a respectful and humble manner is, arguably, crucial to living a good life. As you play soccer, you’ll inevitably win some games. These experiences will allow you to be respectful in victory and will indirectly improve your relationships in life.
19. Learn how to be a good loser
Perhaps more important than being a good winner is being a good loser. Learning to take setbacks and losses in a healthy and motivated fashion is critical to achieving things in life. Take your soccer match losses with your head held high, and the way you handle losses in real life will follow suit.
20. Teaches you respect
Soccer is a game of respect. Whether you’re interacting with opponents, the referees, or your own teammates, you need to act with calmness and dignity. These traits will follow you off the field and help you bring that respect to other parts of your life.
21. Learn how to follow rules
Playing soccer isn’t just running around a field with a ball. There are several rules you need to follow if you want to succeed and win. Learning and following these rules can teach you or your kids how to better work with the rules that permeate our society.
22. Gets you outside more
One of the worst things about the explosion of technology is that it keeps people from going outside. Playing soccer gives you a fun reason to get out of the house and into the sun. And if you join an organized team, the responsibility involved in being a team member will increase the chances that you put down your phone and lace up your shoes.
23. Improves flexibility
I’ve played a lot of soccer. Before every game and practice, we had a long and methodical stretching routine. Any organized sports team will likely make you more flexible, but soccer’s focus on long-distance running makes constant stretching even more necessary.
24. Promotes sharing
The final benefit of playing soccer is that it promotes sharing. This stems from the teamwork aspect of the game ‒ if you want to win, you need to pass the ball around. Ball hogs rarely win games, even if they have the best moves on the field. This need to share the ball will indirectly affect other parts of your life, and you may find yourself more willing to share things even when you’re not playing.