Benefits Of Contact Sports: Play Hard, Stay Strong

Looking for something new to try this year? How about a contact sport? Different from a non-contact sport, such as tennis, these activities tend to keep you on your toes- and that’s a good thing.

On the plus side- many contact sports are team based, which means that it can help with character building in a way that’s different from riding solo.

But what makes these sports unique? Let’s check it out now.

What Is A Contact Sport Anyway?

Contact sports are a category of physical activities where participants engage in direct physical interactions or contact as an integral part of the game. This contact, often forceful and strategic, distinguishes these sports from non-contact varieties where such interactions are minimal or forbidden. 

The essence of contact sports lies in the physicality involved. In these activities, the contact between players isn't incidental but a fundamental aspect of the gameplay. For example, in sports like rugby and American football, tackling, blocking, and physical confrontations are not just common; they are essential tactics for gaining an advantage over the opposing team. Similarly, in martial arts, the contact between competitors through strikes and holds is the primary method of scoring and victory.

men playing rugby

However, the degree and nature of contact can vary significantly between different sports.In boxing and martial arts, the contact is direct and often aimed at the opponent’s body with the intent to strike or subdue. 

In contrast, in sports like soccer and basketball, while physical contact is frequent, it's generally less forceful and more about maneuvering for position or gaining control of the ball.

Safety measures are an integral aspect of contact sports. Due to the inherent risk of injury from physical collisions, these sports often have strict rules and regulations designed to protect the participants. Protective gear such as helmets, pads, and gloves are commonly used to mitigate the risk of injury. 

Additionally, referees and officials play a crucial role in enforcing rules and maintaining a safe environment for all players. Participation in contact sports also requires a high level of physical fitness and skill. 

Players must not only be physically capable of withstanding the rigors of the sport but also possess the skills and tactical knowledge to engage safely and effectively. Training for contact sports often involves a comprehensive regimen focusing on strength, endurance, agility, and technique, tailored to withstand and leverage the physical interactions that are characteristic of these activities.

The appeal of contact sports is multifaceted. For many, the physical challenge, strategic depth, and dynamic nature of these sports make them particularly engaging and rewarding. They often foster a strong sense of camaraderie and teamwork, as players must work closely together to succeed. Then there’s the fact that the clear and objective nature of victory and defeat in contact sports can provide a straightforward and compelling narrative for both participants and spectators alike- adding to the “addictive” quality many of the sports possess.

Different Types of Contact Sports

Rugby

Rugby is a high-contact team sport known for its physical intensity and strategic depth. It involves two teams competing to carry, pass, or kick an oval-shaped ball to the end of the field or over the crossbar. 

Tackling is a major component, with players using their bodies to stop opponents' progress physically. Rugby is not just about physical strength but also about teamwork, endurance, and tactical savvy. It builds resilience and camaraderie as players work closely to achieve their goals under physically demanding circumstances.

American Football

American Football is one of the most popular contact sports in the United States. It combines strategy, physical power, and agility. Players wear protective gear due to the sport's intense physical nature, which includes tackling, blocking, and physical confrontations. 

American football

Each team aims to move the ball towards the opponent's end zone to score points. American Football is not only a test of physical prowess but also of mental resilience, as players must quickly recover from setbacks and maintain focus throughout the game.

Boxing

Boxing is a combat sport, or rather, more specifically a combat sport, where two individuals face off in a ring, using punches and defensive maneuvers. It's known for its intensity and the physical and mental toughness required. 

Boxers must have quick reflexes, endurance, and the ability to strategize on the go. It's a sport that not only tests physical strength and agility but also mental fortitude, as boxers must remain composed and focused while under pressure.

Martial Arts (e.g., Judo, Taekwondo)

Martial arts encompass various styles, each with its techniques, philosophy, and approach. Sports like Judo and Taekwondo are Olympic disciplines that involve strikes, kicks, and throws to subdue the opponent. 

kids practicing judo holds

They are not just about physical strength but also about discipline, respect, and self-control. Practitioners learn to channel their energy effectively, develop situational awareness, and build mental resilience alongside physical skills.

Hockey (Ice and Field)

Hockey, whether played on ice or a field, is a fast-paced sport involving teams trying to hit a puck or ball into the opponent's goal using sticks. It's known for its speed, teamwork, and the physical contact between players, including body checks and collisions. 

Hockey players must have excellent hand-eye coordination, endurance, and the ability to make quick decisions.

Lacrosse

Lacrosse is a team sport with Native American origins. It involves using a long-handled stick with a net (lacrosse stick) to catch, carry, and pass a ball, aiming to shoot it into the opponent's goal. 

lacrosse players on the field

The game is fast-moving and involves significant physical contact, including stick-checking and body-checking. Players require agility, coordination, and strategic thinking. Lacrosse is not only physically demanding but also encourages teamwork and strategic planning.

Wrestling

Wrestling is one of the oldest forms of combat, involving grappling techniques such as throws, takedowns, and pins. The objective is to maintain control over the opponent and ultimately pin them to the ground. It's a sport that emphasizes strength, technique, and endurance. 

Wrestlers must be mentally tough, able to anticipate their opponent's moves, and adapt their strategy on the fly. Wrestling teaches discipline, resilience, and a high level of body awareness.

Soccer (Football)

While not as high-contact as other sports on this list, soccer involves significant physical interaction, including shoulder charges, tackles, and aerial challenges. It's the world's most popular sport, where two teams compete to score goals by getting a ball into the opposing team's net. 

players fighting for soccer ball possession

Soccer requires endurance, agility, and teamwork. Players must be able to think strategically, maintain composure under pressure, and work closely with their teammates to succeed.

Benefits of Contact Sports

Improved Physical Fitness

When you engage in contact sports, one of the primary benefits you experience is improved physical fitness. This isn't merely a byproduct of active participation; it's a core element intrinsic to these types of sports. 

Contact sports, by their very nature, require a blend of strength, endurance, agility, and cardiovascular fitness, making them an effective way to enhance your overall physical health and capability.

Let’s first consider the cardiovascular benefits. Contact sports often involve short bursts of high-intensity activity followed by periods of lower intensity or rest, similar to interval training. For instance, sports like soccer or rugby involve running across the field at near maximum, followed by slow jogs, which elevates your heart rate, improving heart health and endurance. Regularly putting your body through these paces not only increases your stamina but also enhances your body's efficiency in oxygen utilization, which is crucial for overall fitness.

Strength and muscle tone significantly improve as well. The physical nature of contact sports means that you're constantly using your muscles to move, block, tackle, or resist opponents. This constant engagement works for various muscle groups across your body. 

Over time, this leads to increased muscle mass, improved tone, and strength. Unlike isolated exercises in the gym, the movements in contact sports engage multiple muscles simultaneously, leading to balanced and functional strength.

Contact sports can even contribute to improved bone density. The weight-bearing and impact nature of the activities stimulates bone remodeling and growth, leading to stronger bones. This aspect is particularly important as you age, as it helps combat natural bone density loss, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Smart supplementation, such as with Foundation; our creatine and Peak ATP formulation, can help improve your physical performance and boost recovery after the game. Your nutrition and supplementation must be on point to fully reap all the physical benefits of your sport of choice.

Enhanced Coordination and Agility

Enhanced coordination and agility are pivotal benefits you can gain from participating in contact sports. These qualities are not just ancillary benefits but central to your performance and enjoyment of these activities. 

Coordination refers to your ability to move different parts of your body smoothly and efficiently in response to your environment. Agility, on the other hand, is your ability to move quickly and change direction with ease. 

Together, these skills form a critical foundation for any contact sport.In the dynamic and unpredictable environment of contact sports, your body and mind must work in unison to respond to rapid changes and challenges. 

Whether you're dodging a tackle in football, intercepting a pass in basketball, or executing a judo throw, your success relies heavily on your coordination and agility. These sports inherently train these skills by placing you in situations where you must quickly process information and execute complex physical maneuvers.

Engaging in contact sports exposes you to a variety of movement patterns and situational challenges. Over time, this exposure enhances your neuromuscular coordination, the ability of your brain to communicate effectively with your muscles. This improved communication means you can perform movements more smoothly and efficiently. Similarly, the frequent need to change direction, speed, and level in contact sports develops your agility, providing you with the ability to make rapid, precise movements.

Improving your coordination and agility have benefits that also extend beyond the playing field. These skills can improve your balance and reaction time, reducing the risk of falls and injuries in daily life. They also contribute to better overall body awareness, helping you move more gracefully and effectively in any physical endeavor.As you continue to participate in contact sports, you'll likely notice these improvements not just in your performance but in your general physical capability. 

So whether you're navigating a crowded sidewalk, dancing, or simply reaching for an item on a high shelf, the enhanced coordination and agility you've developed will serve you well. These are not just skills but vital components of a healthy, active lifestyle.

Stress Relief

Engaging in any sports discipline can be a highly effective way for you to manage and reduce stress. This benefit, though perhaps less immediately apparent than the physical fitness gains, is equally significant for your overall well-being. 

The mechanisms through which contact sports alleviate stress are multifaceted and deeply embedded in both your physiological and psychological responses to physical activity.Firstly, the intense physical exertion associated with contact sports triggers a series of biochemical responses in your body. 

As you engage in these vigorous activities, your body releases endorphins, often referred to as 'feel-good' hormones. These natural mood lifters play a crucial role in alleviating stress, inducing a sense of euphoria, and enhancing your overall sense of well-being. The physical effort required in contact sports ensures a substantial release of these hormones, providing a natural and effective way to combat stress.

For many, the structured nature of contact sports also offers a unique form of escapism. The focus and concentration required to perform in these sports demand your full attention, effectively providing a mental break from daily stressors. 

This focused state, often referred to as being 'in the zone,' allows for a mental respite, during which time your mind is diverted from the issues that contribute to your stress, granting you a period of mental relaxation and clarity.

Contact sports also provide a healthy and controlled outlet for aggression and frustration. The physical contact and competitive nature of these activities allow you to channel pent up emotions into the game, releasing them in a socially acceptable and constructive manner. 

This cathartic release can be particularly effective in reducing feelings of anger and frustration, which are common components of stress.The social aspect of contact sports should not be underestimated as a stress-relieving factor either. 

In addition to the immediate stress-relieving benefits, regular participation in contact sports can lead to long-term improvements in your ability to handle stress. The discipline, resilience, and coping strategies you develop on the field can translate into your everyday life, enhancing your ability to manage stressors more effectively. 

As your physical health improves and you gain confidence from your achievements in the sport, you may also find that your overall stress tolerance increases, making you less susceptible to the adverse effects of stress in the future.

Teamwork and Cooperation

Learning teamwork and cooperation is a fundamental aspect of participating in contact sports. When you engage in these physically demanding activities, you're not just enhancing your physical capabilities; you're also cultivating vital interpersonal skills that extend beyond the playing field. 

female soccer players celebrating a goal

In contact sports, the synergy and collective effort of the team often determine the outcome of the game, making the development of teamwork and cooperation not just beneficial, but essential.

As you train and play, you'll learn that success in contact sports often hinges on the ability to anticipate and react to your teammates' actions. 

Regular practice sessions are not just for bettering individual skills, but also about learning how each member fits into the team's strategy. This requires communication, a willingness to adapt, and an understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Active communication is key in this. On the field, you'll need to communicate quickly and effectively, often under pressure. This could be verbal, through calls and shouts, or non-verbal, through gestures and body language. 

Developing this layer of understanding and communication enhances team cohesion and effectiveness, allowing for more fluid and coordinated action during the game. In contact sports, you often have to rely on your teammates to support you, back your play, or be where they need to be at the right moment. 

This trust is built over time through consistent, collaborative practice and shared experiences, both in victory and defeat. Understanding that everyone is working towards a common goal and that each member is vital to the team's success strengthens this bond.

Contact sports are physically and mentally demanding, often putting players in tough, high-pressure situations. Overcoming these challenges as a group can forge a strong sense of camaraderie and mutual support. 

Shared experiences, especially those involving adversity, tend to bring people together, creating a sense of fellowship and collective resilience.

Discipline and Respect

Partaking in a contact sport is not only a test of physical prowess but also a profound exercise in cultivating discipline and respect. When you immerse yourself in the world of contact sports, you'll find that these two virtues are not just byproducts of your training but essential elements for both personal growth and athletic success.

Discipline in contact sports is multifaceted. It begins with commitment—the dedication to consistently attend practices, drills, and games. This commitment often requires you to manage your time effectively, balancing sports with other responsibilities. 

As you progress, you'll find that discipline extends to your physical preparation as well. Adhering to a strict regimen of physical conditioning, skill development, and strategic learning is imperative. 

This discipline ensures you're not only physically prepared for the demands of the sport but also mentally attuned to the strategies and rules of the game. Moreover, contact sports demand discipline in adherence to rules and regulations. These guidelines are in place not just to ensure fair play but also to protect you and your fellow participants from harm. 

Learning to respect these rules, even when they might frustrate your immediate goals on the field, is a crucial aspect of your development. It teaches self-control, a skill that is invaluable both in and out of the sporting arena.

Respect is equally vital in contact sports. On one level, it's about respecting your opponents. Despite the physical confrontations and competitive nature of these sports, recognizing and valuing your opponents' efforts and skills is crucial. 

This respect ensures that the competition remains healthy and that the aggressive aspects of the game don't turn into personal animosity.

Respect also extends to your teammates and coaches. Recognizing their efforts, listening to their advice, and valuing their contributions fosters a positive team environment. This mutual respect is often the foundation of successful teams, creating a sense of unity and shared purpose.

Furthermore, respect for the sport itself is paramount. Understanding its history, traditions, and values, and carrying yourself in a way that honors these aspects, can enrich your experience and growth as an athlete. 

Self-Esteem and Confidence

Partaking in a contact sport can be a profoundly effective way to develop self-esteem and confidence. When you engage in such activities, you're not just training your body; you're also cultivating a mindset geared toward personal growth and resilience. 

Understanding how this process works can provide you with insights into enhancing your self-perception and self-assurance. Initially, the very act of participating in a contact sport challenges you to step out of your comfort zone. 

confident football player after scoring a touchdown

This is where the first seeds of self-esteem are sown. When you commit to a sport that involves physical contact, you're making a bold statement about your willingness to face challenges head-on. 

Every time you show up for training or a game, you're reinforcing a self-image of someone who is determined and brave. As you progress, the skills and techniques you learn and refine contribute significantly to building your confidence. Mastery of a sport comes with an understanding of your physical capabilities and limitations. 

With each practice, you learn more about what your body can do, and this knowledge translates into a growing confidence in your abilities, not just in the sport but in life's other challenges as well. 

The feedback loop in contact sports is often immediate and tangible. Scoring a goal, making a successful tackle, or even just improving your personal best can provide a powerful boost to your self-esteem. These accomplishments provide concrete evidence of your abilities and progress, reinforcing your belief in yourself. 

The social aspect of contact sports also plays a crucial role in building self-esteem and confidence. Being part of a team means you're constantly interacting with others who are facing the same challenges and working toward the same goals. 

This sense of belonging and mutual support can significantly enhance your self-perception. As you recognize your role and contribution to the team, your sense of self-worth grows.

Contact sports also teach an important lesson about resilience. You'll inevitably face setbacks, losses, and perhaps even injuries. 

Learning to cope with these adversities, to get back up and try again, instills a robust sense of resilience. This resilience contributes to a deeper, more enduring confidence. You learn that your worth isn't based on never failing but on the courage to continue and the ability to learn from mistakes.

Sociability

Partaking in a contact sport offers a unique and potent avenue for developing social skills, leveraging the very nature of these activities to foster connections, communication, and community. 

Contact sports are inherently team-oriented. Whether you're playing rugby, soccer, or participating in a martial arts class, you're seldom alone. This team environment necessitates constant communication and coordination. 

You'll learn to express yourself clearly and understand others' perspectives quickly and under pressure. These interactions, over time, don't just improve your ability to communicate within the game; they also translate into more effective social interactions in various other aspects of your life.

The trials, triumphs, and even the defeats experienced together act as a bonding agent, fostering deep connections with your teammates. These relationships often extend beyond the playing field, leading to a broader social circle and a sense of community that can be profoundly rewarding. 

Training and competing together also build trust and reliance among team members. In contact sports, where physical safety can sometimes be a concern, trusting your teammates is crucial. This trust, developed through shared experiences and challenges, can help you feel more connected and supported, enhancing your ability to form trusting relationships in other areas of your life as well.

In addition to this, most contact sports often involve a social (or pecking) structure beyond just the players on the field. Coaches, support staff, and even fans contribute to a broader social environment. 

Engaging with this wider community can enhance your social skills, expose you to diverse perspectives, and provide opportunities for networking and friendship.Engaging in contact sports also provides valuable lessons in managing emotions and conflict. 

Learning to control and express your emotions appropriately, understanding others' emotional responses, and navigating conflicts are all skills that are honed on the field and are directly transferable to social situations off the field.

Lastly, the discipline and respect that are integral to contact sports also play a significant role in building sociability. Respect for teammates, opponents, and officials helps in fostering a positive and inclusive environment. Understanding and adhering to this culture of respect ensures that your interactions, both within the sport and in wider social contexts, are constructive and valued.

Safety Concerns in Contact Sports

Safety concerns in contact sports are plenty due to the inherent physical nature of these activities. While these sports are known to offer many benefits, including physical fitness, teamwork, and resilience, they also carry risks that need to be managed carefully. 

Some of the primary safety concerns in contact sports include:

  • Concussions and Brain Injuries: Perhaps the most serious concern in contact sports is the risk of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. These can occur from hits to the head or violent shaking of the head and can lead to serious, long-term cognitive and neurological issues.
  • Fractures and Sprains: The nature of contact sports means that fractures and sprains are relatively common. These injuries can occur from falls, collisions, or improper technique and can range from minor to severe, sometimes requiring surgery and lengthy recovery periods.
  • Overuse Injuries: Many contact sports involve repetitive motions that can lead to overuse injuries. These are not the result of a single event, but rather the cumulative effect of repetitive stress on a particular body part, leading to chronic pain and other issues.
  • Spinal Injuries: Contact sports carry a risk of spinal injuries, which can be particularly serious. These injuries can occur from impacts, falls, or awkward tackles and can lead to long-term disability or paralysis in severe cases.
  • Dental and Facial Injuries: Impact to the face are common in many contact sports, leading to broken teeth, facial fractures, and other injuries. These can be particularly distressing for players and can sometimes require reconstructive surgery.
  • Cuts and Bruises: While generally less serious, cuts, bruises, and abrasions are extremely common in contact sports and can lead to infections if not properly treated.
  • Heat-Related Illnesses: Contact sports often involve intense physical exertion, sometimes in hot outdoor conditions. This can lead to heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can be very serious if not promptly addressed.
  • Psychological Impact: The competitive and intense nature of contact sports can sometimes lead to psychological stress and anxiety. This is particularly true for young athletes who may feel pressure to perform or return from injuries before they are fully healed.
basketball player with knee injury

To minimize these risks, it's crucial for athletes to use appropriate safety equipment, receive proper training, and follow the rules designed to keep the sport as safe as possible. 

Coaches and referees should enforce safe play and ensure that athletes are removed from the game and evaluated if there's any suspicion of a serious injury like a concussion. 

Appropriate rest and proper conditioning are also important to reduce the risk of overuse injuries.

Lastly, never neglect the impact of psychological and mental health. Even if you are involved in a contact sport as a casual player or an athlete, the rigors can take their toll on you. Always make sure to look after this aspect of your health, too.

Final Words

Getting involved in a contact sport is highly rewarding, and something to consider if you aren’t actively involved in another discipline. However, understand that there are inherent risks of doing so, some of which involve physical injury or incapacitation. 

Nevertheless, don’t let that deter you; it doesn’t have to be an elite-level sport- just some casual games can do wonders for your entire well-being.