WHAT ARE ACTION SPORTS?
There are countless physical and mental benefits of action sports, let’s first explore what they are. Action sports, which are also known as extreme sports, have been around for centuries. On the pages of Joseph Banks’ diary in the year 1769, surfing became the first-ever documented action sport.
In more modern times, the first skatepark opened in Carlsbad, California in 1976. Snowboarding became an official Olympic sport in 1998. Though action sports have been around for hundreds of years, they are relatively new to mainstream culture and media. Over time, action sports have become a hub for creativity, entrepreneurship and athleticism.
Action Sports are characterized by their tendency to include high risk and high speeds. The most common forms include skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, surfing and mountain biking. These activities are admired for their adrenaline-inducing, fast-paced nature. Action sports sometimes carry unwarranted stereotypes and are perceived as negative or overly dangerous. Many action sport athletes push back against these stereotypes, emphasizing that the risks they take are calculated and minimized by proper safety precautions and developed skill sets. Additionally, action sports teach incredible life lessons like motivation, resilience and grit and acts as an inclusive, supportive environment for countless athletes.
Partaking in action sports often includes more than just physical activity. Typically, they are accompanied by a rich subculture that emphasizes creativity, individualism and expression.
PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF ACTION SPORTS
Nearly all action sports demand high levels of physical coordination and strength for success. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that millions of people rely on their action sport of choice to stay physically fit. When athletes perform these high-intensity sports, they often push their bodies to the limit.
Many people enjoy the more mainstream avenues of working out such as running, lifting weights or spin classes. While these options are great for building strength and endurance, some people can get bored with the monotony of going to a gym. For these individuals, adding action sports to their workout routine can be a great option to switch things up. The exciting experiences created in action sports helps motivate people to stay active and healthy while also being a source of fun! Athletes can improve their health while also doing something they are passionate about -- two birds, one stone!
When participating in action sports, athletes improve multiple aspects of their physical wellbeing. There are three very important skills that most action sports require: coordination, strength and flexibility. When action sports athletes get better in their arena, they build skills in these three realms. Ultimately, the results can be felt in all aspects of an athlete’s life. From an increased range of motion to ease in completing strenuous household tasks, the physical improvements acquired through action sports can change a person’s life for the better.
MENTAL AND SOCIAL BENEFITS OF ACTION SPORTS
Some of us wonder what kind of person would do backflips on a mountain bike, surf twenty foot waves or skateboard down steep hills for fun? As it turns out, some really cool, welcoming people love action sports. What many find even more surprising is that action sports can actually be great for mental health.
When athletes are presented with intense physical challenges, practicing mindfulness is the default setting. In order to perform the task at hand, athletes must be fully present in that moment, ready to adapt to whatever comes their way. As many know, mindfulness is a key ingredient to cultivating better mental health. Though it may sound counterintuitive, action sports are a great avenue to becoming more mindful, gracious and content in everyday life. They help athletes cultivate a better relationship with the present moment by forcing them to be fully immersed in it. In fact, many action sports athletes insist that their sport is what keeps them sane and allows them to release stress.
Coupled with cultivating mindfulness, action sports also allow people to access their flow state more easily than any other sports. Flow state refers to the feeling of being fully focused and immersed in a task, feeling incapable of being distracted. Often described as being “in the zone”, flow states make people feel motivated, energized or fulfilled. Or, action sports lovers say, stoked. Flow is achieved when you find the balance between your current skill level, and the reasonable belief that you are able to progress to the next level. Because of the never ending progression loop of Action Sports, athletes find themselves in flow consistently because they are constantly looking to push just beyond their comfort zone. It has been proven that both mindfulness and Flow are strong tools that help combat boredom and depression, which is a challenge across all generations but particularly Generation Z.
Action sports aficionados also tend to understand the importance of humility and resilience more than others. Those who partake in high-risk sports are bound to make mistakes, fall down and feel defeated at some point. Athletes who persevere through failures build their resilience and self-discipline abilities. Learning these valuable skills through sports will reflect in other aspects of an athlete's life, allowing them to tackle challenges with a sense of confidence and ease.
In addition, regularly engaging in action sports can decrease anxiety levels. When athletes perform risky sports, they are faced with the possibility of severe injuries and discomfort. In essence, these sports take guts. Many action sports athletes overcome feelings of anxiety every time they master a new trick, surf big waves or conquer their fears. This perpetual cycle of exposure to danger and overcoming anxiety translates into everyday life. Action sports may offer athletes the confidence they need to overcome fears they face in other aspects of life -- not just sport.
Many action sports athletes work tirelessly to perfect their craft. Whether it be landing a trick they’ve been working on or surfing a wave that scares you, there’s a certain level of dedication required to getting better. Many athletes find that conquering their goals is the most rewarding feeling in the world. For many, nothing compares to the feeling of elation that comes from these milestones. Again, this translates to overcoming big challenges in their personal or professional lives and means that they are programmed to push through life’s challenges.
On top of the invaluable feelings of resiliency and bravery, action sports cultivate feelings of belonging among athletes. Many action sports are accompanied by like-minded communities of people who tend to gravitate towards each other. Through learning and mastering action sports, athletes are likely to emerge with rewarding social experiences and networks. In addition, action sports often spark other related interests such as art, photography, videography, music. For example, athletes often purchase GoPros to capture their skills, discover new music from Action Sports videos, and are inspired by the artistic touch of the apparel, and products that they use to participate. . These creative pursuits further enrich athlete’s lives and allow for self-exploration and individual expression.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
Though action sports provide countless benefits to athletes, many people never get the chance to participate and experience the physical, mental and social benefits that come with them. Action sports equipment and facilities remain inaccessible to many due to high costs, intimidation and inaccessibility. Going to skate parks or surf lineups can be incredibly intimidating for kids, especially because of the competitive and localist environment. At some places, if newcomers don’t understand sport etiquette, they can get yelled or harassed for their mistakes. Experiencing this cruel, unwelcoming behavior can cause kids to permanently avoid the sports, leaving massive amounts of untapped potential. That’s where DIVERT comes in.
DIVERT is committed to making action sports more accessible to all, especially at-risk or underserved youth. We give young athletes the chance to learn action sports in a safe and supportive environment. We provide supervision, coaching and guidance for young athletes, allowing them to get involved in action sports without suffering through the discomfort of learning by themselves or the intimidation that exists in public action sport facilities. DIVERTsessions, our expert-led lessons in a crowd-controlled, COVID-safe park are a great way for kids (and even their parents) to learn and master action sports without judgement. Older athletes, parents included, are encouraged to visit DIVERTsessions to get their chops back instead of jumping into sports at a park above their current skill level. At DIVERT, we provide a platform for anyone, and especially you to benefit from the life lessons of creativity, resilience and self-discovery through the sports, art, music and media programming that we provide.
Contact DIVERT to see how action sports may improve your life.