For some people, playing a team sport like football, baseball, or soccer is a chance to become part of something bigger, a chance to rely on others and to prove reliable to one's teammates. For those people, being part of a team is empowering, motivating, and inspiring.
But there are others who dislike team sports: introverts in particular. It's not because they are antisocial or because they don't get along with other people, but rather because such situations and environments don't allow them to perform at their maximum or optimal levels. They simply do better as individual athletes. They would much rather run laps than be sucked into a football game. They'd rather practice something on their own than show up for a group practice. They compete... but because they spend a lot of time at home in their head, so to speak, they compete differently. Competition is, for introverts, even more of an inner game than it is for others.
According to TeachPE, introverts tend to be attracted to sports that focus on
Low arousal levels
Here, then, are some of the best sports for introverts.
Running, particularly distance running, is a gift for those who like to think. A long run gives you nothing but time to either sort your thoughts out or simply lose yourself in the rhythm of your breathing, your steps, your pace, and the sights around you.
For introverted racers, the competition is both against the effort and exertion taking their toll in your body and against the runners in front of you: you simply pick one out and pass them, then move on to the next. Running is a great way to burn fat, build cardiovascular fitness, and stay in shape. It also has the benefit of requiring nothing more elaborate than a decent pair of running shoes.
Fencing is often called "physical chess" and has its roots in the dueling codes and practices of old Europe. Indeed, it is probably the only sport that mimics lethal, individual violence. There are three weapons in fencing: the foil, the epée, and the saber. The foil and epée are both point weapons: points are accumulated only when you touch your opponent with the tip of the weapon. Saber allows points to be accumulated with both the edge and the tip.
There are other rules that differentiate between the three weapons, but whatever you choose will mean a serious cardio workout that relies on speed, precision, intricate weapon handling, and more than a bit of cunning as you wait for your opponent to leave him or herself vulnerable to attack.
Like running, swimming is a great cardio workout that will also strengthen your entire body. Although there are swimming teams, at the end of the day, it's up to each swimmer to pull his or her weight. Like most endurance sports, swimming is largely a battle of the mind against the body that comes before the competitors in the lanes around you.
In short, it's a great sport for introverts.
It's green, it can be used as transportation, and it's great for your lungs and legs. What more could you ask for from sporting equipment? Very little.
Although rowing is a team sport, it's one that allows its participants to lose themselves in the singular team effort of the race.
Writer Michele Phillips talks about her love of rowing in an article about introverted athletes on parenting blog We Know Stuff. After becoming involved in rowing in college, Phillips found that she enjoyed the "physical exertion and absolutely loved the being on the quiet water. The only person talking was the coxswain and that was the only voice I needed to listen to. I had my seat, my specific job, and concentrated on my stroke and how it blended with everyone else's."
Whether or not you love participating in team athletics or if you feel better competing on your own, all of the above-named sports can round out a fitness lifestyle for anyone.
Did we miss any? What sports do you like? Let us know in the comments below.