When I was around twelve years old, I decided to join the many individuals who played paintball every weekend.
I remember buying my first gun (from this point onward, I will call them “markers” – which is the correct terminology) and my first game. I will never forget that day, for it was not only the beginning of something great; it was also the day I began my progression toward a confident, proud and wonderful life. And it is not just paintball; it is every sport. They promote teamwork, leadership, communication, and so much more!
(The following is borrowed from MUHealth.org)
Many athletes do better academically.
Playing a sport requires a lot of time and energy. Some may think this would distract student-athletes from schoolwork. However, the opposite is true. Sports require memorization, repetition, and learning — skillsets that are directly relevant to classwork. Also, the determination and goal-setting skills sports require can be transferred to the classroom.
Sports teach teamwork and help achieve goals.
Fighting for a common goal with a host of other players, coaches, managers and community members teaches you how to build a collective team synergy and effectively communicate the best way to solve problems en route to a victory. This will be very helpful in life when encountering problems at work, at home, or in any arena.
Sports offer many health benefits, some less obvious.
Clearly, sports will improve your fitness and weight goals. However, they also encourage healthy decisions such as not smoking or drinking and offer hidden health benefits such as a lower chance of getting osteoporosis or breast cancer later in life. Also, a team counting on you to show up and work hard is plenty of motivation for you to get to the gym day in and day out.
Sports boost self-esteem.
Watching your hard work pay off and achieving your dreams brings about tons of self-confidence. If you can achieve something in a sport or with a fitness goal, then you know you can achieve any other goal you set. This is a very rewarding and exciting process.
Playing a sport cuts down on pressure and stress.
Exercising is a natural way to loosen up and let go of stress. Also, you will most likely make many new friends on the team who can be there for you as a support system. When you find you are having a lot of stress, you can call up teammates and head to the gym to talk it out and play it out.
What I Learned
Two years into recreational paintball, I began playing tournament paintball, which retired itself for several years before making a recent comeback. This is not the kind of paintball where you find yourself crawling around in the woods. I am talking about 2,000 paintballs in the air at any given time, markers blasting up to 14 paintballs a second, and a simple objective: eliminate the opposing team, and grab their flag. Though so many people seem to have this negative connotation of paintball as a “war game,” the truth of the matter is it is just as much of a sport as football. Studies even indicate that there are more accidents involving golf than there are in paintball!
I was always forming teams to play with weekly, and we competed in numerous tournaments over several years. We became a Semi-Pro team, and that is where the learning began. When you enter tournament paintball, you are signing on the dotted line to commit yourself fully to the sport; that is just how the environment of tournament paintball works. Always being the team captain provided me with a skill I was never very good at: leadership. My job was to strategize the location of each team member, their job, what bunker to cover, what obstacle to jump over, what lane (a spot between bunkers where you are in the open) to lay paintballs onto…it became second nature.
Paintball relies on constant communication. You must be in tune with your teammates, and I have theorized that of all the sports in existence, paintball is the one where communication begets success. You tell someone to move up one bunker, and suddenly you are now responsible for them. But that is what good comes from it: imagine the feeling you get when you send someone into the gut of the beast, only to see them succeed by taking out the entire opposing team…and though they are credited with the success, it was you who initiated it. This is true of many sports, though when you look at the standard sport such as football or soccer, there is very little chit-chat.
Teamwork is essential in today’s world. A marketing executive relies on his team to come up with the next great idea. If we were all alone in our decisions – whether business or personal – we would never progress. From paintball (and this goes for all other team-oriented sports and activities) I learned the value of working together. Take the above example of telling a teammate when to move up one slot on the field. You are all working toward a common goal: to win the match, but to do that you have to know where the opposition is; you need to know when to move because someone has to lay down cover for you. These are just a few examples of how teamwork can be taught through sports.
Before paintball, I was a shy kid. After ten years with the sport, I ended up owning my high school on both an academic and social level. It was almost ethereal, though in retrospect I realize that this sense of pride and confidence (something most individuals in high school lack) did not just appear; it was conditioned. There are moments where I can recall my exact moves during a paintball match, and recalling the successes (and equally, the failures) puts a smile on my face. This is the case with sports and activities: they promote a feeling of high self-worth. You shoot out an enemy player and you get a feeling of accomplishment; you successfully pass the football and make the winning touchdown, and you jump for joy. Sports are the epicenter of confidence!
I believe every adolescent should embark on a voyage of self-discovery in whatever manner they choose. However, I do feel that sports and activities that require the above facets are the reasons why the underdog becomes a leader. 75 percent of Fortune 500 company CEOs believe that physical activity (among them, sports) is one of the most important factors for success, and some even attribute it as the very cause of their success in the first place. In essence, paintball changed my life and now I am CEO of the company behind this very blog. And to think, it all started in Middle School, with nothing but a $125 paintball marker, and a sport that demands action to be taken…