Being from a family that is into all kinds of sports, I was introduced to various sports right from a very young age. Whether it was Ganguli spinning his shirt like he’s gotten the cowboy fever, or it was Schumaker drifting towards a new world record. I loved the excitement that came with watching a legend Federer take on Nadal and the nervousness that came with seeing if Portugal would finally enter a Fifa final or not.
I picked up the bat before I hit ten, and just like every other kid in the neighborhood, decided that I would play for India one day. With that goal set, I would go play a million street games a day – shouting at every no ball, arguing about the run-out, and trying my best to get that perfect yorker. Towards my ninth standard, I finally had a chance to play professional cricket.
My entire life changed the day I was introduced to professional cricket. Learning how to play the sport has taught me very valuable lessons in life that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Today, I will tell you why everyone on the planet should learn how to play at least one team sport.
Yes, that’s right, it’s more than just hitting the ball randomly, or running around like a maniac trying to snatch the football. (American reference)
Sportsmanship. What is it exactly? It refers to playing the game in the right spirit – treating your opponent as an opponent, and not an enemy. Appreciating that someone was better than you, and not letting your ego make centuries instead of your bat.
Some players are younger than me. Some of them are much older. I learned how to treat everyone equally. It is okay for me to learn from my younger teammates, and it is absolutely okay for me to approach my seniors for help.
I was taught that no matter who you are, you become a part of the family when you join the team. Every opinion would be counted, and every decision would be made taking you into consideration. Just because I don’t have any prior match experiences, that does not mean that I will have to shut up.
I was taught to always put the club first, then the teammates, and then myself – in that exact order, every single time. I was taught that it is okay if you lose out on a fifty because your teammate hit the winning runs with a boundary.
It is okay for you to be not out on 98, and still win. Because, winning is all that should matter, and personal records may come as and when they please. I learned that giving up your runs to help your teammate come back to form is appreciated because you’d be helping someone shape their career.
I was taught that it was okay for me step down when the team does not need me. When the playing conditions are suited for another player, it is okay for me to warm the bench.
4. The Right Approach
I learned how to remain calm in the time of crisis. Be it any sport, there might come a situation where you have no clear way of winning. It’s when you need to not panic, and think of the best possible approach. Cricket taught me that. How to control my emotions and let my brain take over.
I was taught how to draw a line from just anywhere to the winning goal. No matter how tough a situation looks like, you can still win if you want to win.
5. There’s no textbook
I learned that there are no rules for doing anything. Sometimes, you need to learn to improvise and craft your way out of a messy situation. Be it AB De Villiers, or Roger Federer, these legends told us how to correctly break the textbook shots, and make your own way.
Even in life, sometimes all you can do is just create a new path. Improvising is something that is very important, and cricket taught me exactly how to do it.
Yup. You read that correctly the first time. Cricket taught me maths! OH YES! How might you ask? Well, any sport you take, you need some basic calculations. In football, you need to know how much time you have left, how many goals you need. In cricket, you need the run rate, the number of balls remaining. In tennis, you need how many more sets to win. You apply basic maths everywhere.
So, yes. Cricket taught me basic addition, division, subtraction and all of that algebra. Ha. Never forgetting that one.
7. Failing is important
Failures are good. Sports taught me that you will lose more than you win. And it is absolutely fine. You should learn from your mistakes, wipe your tears, and get back on your feet once again. Repeat the process, and success will finally knock on your door.
Sports taught me not to hide from failure, but to meet it head-on. A very important life lesson, don’t you think? Never give up.
8. Trust me to trust you
Lionel Messi made a baffling decision in a match where Barcelona FC played against Celta Vigo, he audaciously passed the ball from the penalty spot for one of his most ridiculous assists to date.
The Barcelona frontman was felled in the box and looked primed to slot home the spot-kick which would have been a record goal haul, but the Ballon d’Or holder decided instead to tap the ball ever so slightly in front of him, fooling the goalkeeper into diving, while Luis Suarez steamed into the box to complete his hat-trick. It’s called trust and teamwork.
Playing a sport taught me how to trust people. How to keep your doubts aside, and let the other person finish the task for you. In life too, sometimes you need to trust people to help you out.
9. Learn, Learn, Learn, Learn
Just because you’re the world champion, that doesn’t mean you stop learning. Playing a sport taught me how to constantly improve myself. How to understand that perfection is not a goal, but a journey. It made me understand that no matter how good I get, there is always something that might go wrong.
Listening to my coach telling me how to improve should be seen as an act of helpfulness and not pinpointing on my mistakes. Remember how Sachin mentioned he discussed his retiring match’s dismissal with his brother? He knew he wouldn’t be playing again, but the man wanted to learn. Learn to become a better version of ourselves. That is what playing a sport taught me.
10. Celebrate Success
It is important for us to celebrate small milestones. Playing a sport taught me how to celebrate little successes and how to not get distracted by them. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, they said. I was taught how to enjoy the success I get when I’ve worked hard enough to earn it. I learned how hard work is the only way to succeed, be it anything in life.
Though, that’s not all. Playing a sport will teach you to be more focused, more hard-working, more open-minded, more fit, and so much more. Let me know what you learned by playing your favorite sport! (and oh, what is your favorite sport, btw?)