Body & Fitness

Why you should take up a ball sport

Do you have rosy memories of playing fun ball sports when you were younger? It’s not too late to take them up again.

Do you remember your old netball or soccer days fondly but think you’re past ball sports?

Getting back on the field or court as an adult is easier than you’d expect, and the health benefits are huge.

“Ball sports increase muscle mass and bone density and lower body fat,” says fitness coach Ali Cavill.

Plus, “joining a team leads to a higher rate of follow-through with health and fitness goals”.

So what are you waiting for? Here are some that Cavill recommends.


Play if you have good hand-eye coordination and want to be social.


Running all over the court and constantly changing direction provides an intense cardio workout which builds strength and endurance.

Playing doubles improves your communication skills as you work cooperatively to cover the ball.

Tennis is one of the best sports to improve hand-eye coordination – you have to keep your eye on the ball at all times.

Get back into it: Sign up for adult lessons in a group or one-on-one with a qualified coach. Most clubs have social competitions for players of all levels.


Play if you want a non-contact team sport, an aerobic boost and extra motivation.


Soccer is a great way to increase aerobic ability and cardiovascular health.

Players mix up their running during the game, with intervals, agility and bursts of speed, the combination of which are better for heart health and weight loss than just jogging alone.

Involvement in soccer also helps to motivate you to get out there and train hard. Being part of a team means you’ll get lots of encouragement.

Get back into it:

It’s as easy as buying a ball, visiting a local park with friends and getting a game going. If you’re looking to try competition soccer, most local clubs offer play for all skill levels and ages.


Play if you are up for a competitive but fun sport, and you have healthy knees and ankles.


Netball involves a lot of starting and stopping on the court, so you’ll need joints that can withstand the pressure.

It boosts speed and agility and burns tonnes of energy. It also improves endurance and balance, as well as developing concentration and increasing muscle mass.

Hand-eye coordination is improved when passing, defending and receiving. The focus needed tactically and physically allows your mind to forget about the daily grind and you’ll get a burst of feel-good endorphins, naturally decreasing stress levels.

Get back into it:

Netball is a year-round sport that can be played indoors and outdoors, by people of all abilities. Find a club in your area and take a shot.


Play if you have access to golfing facilities and are after a lower-impact sport with plenty of mental benefits.

Benefits: Ditch the buggy and walk between holes and golf becomes a physical workout, boosting cardiovascular fitness and increasing muscle tone and flexibility. Eighteen holes of golf involves walking about 5km to 7km, and swinging at the ball strengthens and tones the chest, back, shoulders and arms as well as the legs, glutes, hip and core muscles. Golf is one of the most stimulating and mentally challenging ball sports on offer, as the game demands focus, decision-making and strategy.

Get back into it: Play at a community course with friends, hit balls on your own at the driving range, or get involved in social competitions – the handicapping scoring system means all skill levels can play together.


Play if you love the thrills and skills of football and want to boost your heart health and general fitness.

Benefits: Touch football is played year-round, offering training and games for all levels. It’s a fast-paced, non-contact game which improves aerobic fitness and builds speed, agility, strength and hand-eye coordination, as well as promoting teamwork. Touch football involves lots of stop-start movements including short sprinting, walking, jumping and weaving. When you pass, you tone and strengthen your torso, shoulders and back, and your legs will get a good workout as you run and change direction during play.

Get back into it: Join one of the numerous teams playing around New Zealand, ranging from social to high-level competitive.


Play if you want a complete body and mind workout.


Whether you play indoors or outdoors on grass or the beach, volleyball is a winner when it comes to fitness and fat burning.

A 60-minute game on unstable surfaces such as grass and sand can burn up to 2500kJ. Volleyball tones and strengthens the muscles of the upper and lower body, especially the thighs and calves.

The fast-paced and tactical game is also mentally challenging, developing concentration, decision-making and cooperation.

Get back into it:

There are many beaches and parks around New Zealand that are perfect for a game of volleyball.

Just gather your friends and family into two teams, grab your net and ball and get outside. Or sign up with a club to play a social or comp team.

Words: Pip Harry

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