Team Up and Have a Ball
Warm Winter Workouts
During seasons of extreme weather, those that prefer to exercise indoors can complement the individual huffing and puffing sounds of gyms and fitness clubs with the social shouts of competitive community sports. Fall is an ideal time to sign up for winter leagues to take advantage of the flip side of outdoor summer leagues. Here we can continue playing what many of us enjoyed as kids—volleyball, basketball and bowling; a welcoming facility is likely just a short distance away.
V-Ball and B-Ball Action
“Many facilities use their gyms for basketball leagues two or three nights a week and set up volleyball nets on the other nights,” notes Bill Beckner, research manager with the National Recreation and Park Association. He reports that in season, there is more open play in basketball, especially on weekends, and also during weekday lunch hours for workers.
YMCA/YWCAs, as well as some public school gymnasiums, welcome adults to play either basketball or volleyball. Opportunities include after school, on weekends and during semester breaks.
While beach volleyball competitions continue to garner more media attention, indoor volleyball has remained consistently popular. USA Volleyball, the sport’s national governing body, has 40 regional associations that provide access to grassroots play, as well as organized competitions. Business team leagues also exist in many cities and towns, as well as informal gatherings of friends that simply meet up.
With six people per side, it’s fun to rotate positions and learn to serve, block the ball, set up a teammate and return or spike it over the net. According to Beckner, “Early Boomers enjoy the camaraderie and generally find volleyball less physically demanding than basketball.” He reports that co-ed volleyball is also popular with young adults, and he anticipates even more interest following the Summer Olympics.
Participating in either sport may lead to minor injuries without proper equipment. To help prevent ankle sprains from an awkward landing, Paul Ullucci, of East Providence, Rhode Island-based Ullucci Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy, recommends tightly fitting, hightop sneakers. “Lace them all the way up and tie them tightly,” he says. For some, he also advises an ankle brace over socks for even more support.
Because fingers may get bent by the ball, “Taping two fingers together with thin strips of medical tape above and below the knuckles can stabilize a joint prone to getting sprained while maintaining flexibility,” suggests this member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Board of Directors.
Have a Bowl
Bowling similarly offers friendly social competition, as well as a way to develop individual playing style and track personal improvement. The United States Bowling Congress reports that 71 million people bowled at least once in 2010, making it the number one U.S. participatory sport. Nationwide, it sanctioned 71,904 leagues in 2010-2011, fairly evenly split between men and women.
Steve Johnson, executive director of the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, views its 3,600 member locations (about 75 percent of all centers) as community destinations for recreation and entertainment. It’s ideal as a family activity and double-dating venue; more centers now offer fruit juices and energy drinks.
As Stefanie Nation, of Grand Prairie, Texas, an avid recreational league player and member of the United States Bowling Congress’ defending world champion women’s national team, notes, “Leagues are a fun opportunity to get together with others. There’s something about releasing the ball that relieves stress.”
She adds that bowling burns approximately 240 calories per hour and completing three games is the equivalent of walking a mile. Footwear is available for rent at centers if players don’t have their own, and bowling balls of various weights are provided. “A good rule of thumb is to choose a ball that weighs 10 percent of your body weight, up to 16 pounds.” Many serious players wear wrist supports to help absorb the weight of the ball and to keep the wrist rigid for consistency in delivery, she says.
The sport’s appeal is broadening, especially in urban centers where a Rock ‘n’ Bowl phenomenon often enlivens the young adult crowd on Friday and Saturday nights. Centers have also become sites for community fundraising events and corporate parties. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s Sweat Fitness recently added 10 bowling lanes to one of its 10 facilities and the regional chain expects to continue the trend.
Randy Kambic, of Estero, FL, is a freelance writer and a copyeditor for Natural Awakenings.