What's the point of getting fit if I can't go out and injure myself?
March 20, 2013 12:32 PM   Subscribe

I've recently finally gotten really fit and in shape, after spending most of my 27 years...not doing that. I've been looking for something local and athletic to do, both for fun and for fitness, but since I haven't played sports since I was 12 or so, my skills are lacking. However, all the local instruction is oriented towards youth, so I turn to you folk for aid. How can an sports newb adult learn how to play?

I live in northern Orange County, CA, and I'm mostly interested in soccer or basketball, but if anyone here knows of a sport I simply have to try, I'll certainly give it a shot.
posted by Punkey to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Have you checked meetup.com to find adult sports leagues/pickup game groups near you? Especially in your area, I would find it hard to believe that there aren't any sports groups - especially those dedicated to basketball - open to you.

Also consider checking or posting on craigslist to find people. I've had good results with both.

Are you more interested in socialization, competition, or just athletic activity? I highly recommend giving rock climbing/bouldering a try. It can be done alone if you can't find anyone else. It can also be done in groups - climbers are awesome people, with very few exceptions. It can also be competitive in the case of speed climbing.
posted by Urban Winter at 12:48 PM on March 20, 2013

I started playing ice hockey at age 27 and it has been the most fun I've ever had in sport. It seems like a lot of adults players picked up the game late in life, so you would definitely be in the same boat as a lot of people. The other benefit of hockey for adult learners is that, because of the skating, previously athletic people look just as awful and foolish starting out, so there is some fun in every beginner being terrible, unlike say, soccer where an inexperienced natural athlete could still dominate a beginner league.

The Ducks appear to put on a free adult clinic

It is hard
It is expensive
It hurts when you fall down, and you will fall down a lot
It is frustrating
It is really hard.
posted by ghharr at 12:52 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: On preview: seconding rec leagues and pickup games.

Look for one that's not too competitive, and the veteran players will probably be happy to teach you some basic skills and strategy for your sport of choice. My experience is in ultimate frisbee, but I can't imagine the culture is that different in soccer or basketball. You don't necessarily need to go someplace that is explicitly instructional to get instruction.
posted by Aquinas at 12:52 PM on March 20, 2013

Best answer: This is what recreation leagues exist for.

Play a few seasons in a rec league (usually via the Parks and Recreation department of your local city or county, but google it) and then you can move up to more competitive divisions if you want. I am most familiar with rec softball but many other sports exist. It's usually something like $50 for 10 weeks and easy to get into. Some programs will match you to a team at random, some will require you to find your own team (I've had good luck throwing up an ad on craigslist in the past).
posted by zug at 12:57 PM on March 20, 2013

hiking club?
posted by greenskpr at 1:02 PM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Pickup games are great for getting back into soccer. Check local parks and show up with your gear then ask if you can join in. Most groups are happy to let folks in.

You can also use the directory at CALSouth to find a league that works for you. I didn't check the others, but the first league on that list, Laguna Niguel offers 7v7 leagues, which, if you're getting back into soccer after a 15 year absence would be a good choice. Hit the New Player link and submit your details, let them know you're getting back into soccer. Around here at least, teams are always looking for players. It'll take you a few games to get a feel for positioning, tracking and marking. If you're fit and relatively fast 7v7 is more forgiving when you get these wrong.
posted by IanMorr at 1:03 PM on March 20, 2013

Response by poster: I might not have been clear enough - I have little to no idea how to actually play any of these sports. I don't even know enough to walk onto a rec league field, thus my question.
posted by Punkey at 1:09 PM on March 20, 2013

Ultimate Frisbee was made for you. It's basically soccer played with a frisbee. Not too much contact, LOTS of running, plenty of excitement, not too difficult if you're in shape.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:14 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're really looking to get hurt, your best bets are rugby or Australian Rules football, I would think. The rugby team site says they take beginners. Note that both of these sports may require additional training in advanced beer drinking.
posted by Fnarf at 1:19 PM on March 20, 2013

Best answer: A big part of getting into a sport (or sports) is letting go of that fear of not knowing anything. Just tell people you're a newb. You just have to go do them. I'd do an internet search of beginner leagues in sports you may be interested in your general area.

I play unusual sports, but I got into them just buy walking past a field and seeing "lessons at 10am" or googling for a club near me and seeing when lessons were.
posted by loriginedumonde at 1:20 PM on March 20, 2013

A quick google turns up a rock climbing gym out there. One just opened here and it is amazing. The people who go are the same types of people who play pickup sports and go hiking etc. Also check your YMCA for casual and intramural leagues, and meetup for outdoorsy meetup groups.
posted by headnsouth at 1:32 PM on March 20, 2013

I started out in Hockey in my late 20's with Ken Yackels Skate School in Northern California. After the class we were sorted into teams and began a leauge. Hella fun! (Our league was co-ed, so double fun!)

Here's a link to Adult Hockey Schools off of the Hockey North America site.

After that, another fun sport might be skiing or snowboarding. Again, plenty of adult classes for those, plus those are fun vacations!

I'm only sorry that I had a car accident where I lost two discs in my back because I cannot tell you how much I miss both hockey and skiing. I miss them SO HARD!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:35 PM on March 20, 2013

It is hard
It is expensive
It hurts when you fall down, and you will fall down a lot
It is frustrating
It is really hard

On the other hand: It's a blast.
posted by Doohickie at 1:44 PM on March 20, 2013

Best answer: In general, people are going to be welcoming whatever your skill level. But if you really can't play at all, you're probably not going to enjoy it. Basketball's a good choice because it's so broadly played, plus you can learn basic dribbling and shooting skills by yourself. Get a ball, find an empty court, and dribble and shoot. Simply shoot, run to get the ball, dribble back to shooting position, repeat. After you've done enough to feel comfortable, find a game. No matter how good you are by yourself, you'll still feel lost, but you'll get better.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:45 PM on March 20, 2013

Rock climbing! It's not a sport that you play, but you don't have to have any skills to start. If you're in good shape, it will be easier to get started. You probably wont go out and injure yourself, but this sport definitely has both a mental and physical challenge. Also, while you're not a team that you play with, rock climbers are all friendly and helpful - they cheer you on and help you out as you're climbing, so everyone who is at the gym is kind of on your team.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 2:35 PM on March 20, 2013

I suggested rec league sports because in past teams I've played for in rec-level softball, we have regularly fielded players who have literally never played before. We teach them the rules and how to play and they pick it up as they go. The rec leagues are explicitly non-competitive and you don't have to know what you're doing to join.
posted by zug at 2:40 PM on March 20, 2013

I would suggest trying sports that most people don't play as kids or in gym class, because they will probably have a higher percentage of people who don't have a background in the sport. Ultimate frisbee or rugby might be good choices for that reason.
posted by MadamM at 3:21 PM on March 20, 2013

I came here to nth Ultimate, but will also say that there are sports leagues specifically designed to maximize fun and minimize hypercompetitiveness that include sports such as dodgeball, kickball, volleyball, softball and flag football. Up here in Seattle we have Underdog sports, your town may have the same or something similar.
Ultimate also has a pick-up community, and since the nature of the sport is sportsmanship, pickup ulti games tend to be pretty inclusive for newbs.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:00 PM on March 20, 2013

Best answer: Agreed with MadamM. I played a couple seasons of ultimate frisbee in a rec league and the first week was 'this is a disc. This is what you are trying to do with the disc.' Because most people don't (or didn't used to, anyway) come across it until college, there are a lot of adult beginners and they are well catered for.

However, I play soccer instead of ultimate because I like it way better :) Looks like the YMCA in Orange County offers rec league basketball and soccer. I think indoor soccer is better for a beginner than outdoor, because it's easy to be left out of the game in outdoor. I play indoor and we do get a lot of people who have perhaps quite literally never kicked a ball in their life, so it's an option. I would recommend co-ed over men's because they tend slightly less competitive.

According to this page, Yorba Linda/Placentia Family YMCA offers something called 'Adult Soccer Fitness Class' - seems worth calling them and seeing what it is, even if it's not exactly close enough for you to attend they might know something else aimed at very beginner soccer players.
posted by jacalata at 4:04 PM on March 20, 2013

I'd like to suggest bicycling. It is a sport, and has the bonus features of getting you to new places and there isn't a goal beyond arriving by your own horsepower. Socializing too! Cyclists love to bring new riders into the cult, er, I mean sport. There are no fees beyond the equipment itself, not to mention all the coffee and muffin rides you'll be doing.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:06 PM on March 20, 2013

Is there a WAKA kickball league near you? Kickball doesn't require any special skills or knowledge and it's very social.
posted by radioamy at 7:12 PM on March 20, 2013

You might want to give tennis a try. It is very common for people to pick up tennis as adults. I recently took an inexpensive class through the local rec department and there were eight adults in it. Once you get good enough you can play it anywhere you go, for very little money, and you only need one other other person (or three for doubles).
posted by imalaowai at 9:00 PM on March 20, 2013

Does it have to be an organized/competitive sport, or is anything physically challenging and fun open for discussion?

Can you swim?

You mentioned you live in OC. Why not try learning to surf? Contrary to popular belief, it's not all bro-brahs and territorial "locals". Take a lesson or two on rented gear. Plenty of surf schools have lessons geared to all ages. Worst case you don't enjoy it and you're out money for a few lessons and rentals. Best case, you've a new lifelong (healthy) addiction.

Worst, worst case. You get addicted and move too far inland to get out often, and therefore perenially suck, but still constantly crave it (Woe is me.).

Also, seconding rock climbing and cycling. Both are gobs of fun, but for regular, consistent workouts, cycling (or surfing, depending on how far you are from the coast) is probably going to be easier to maintain a routine.
posted by zen_spider at 11:47 PM on March 20, 2013

Also n'thing ultimate friz. If you start with a casual pick-up game you'll find that a lot of the better players are pretty open to teaching you the new skills you're going to need to have fun doing it - namely a very small set of good throws (backhand, how most people throw, forehand, which you'll need to improve quickly to play well, and a few speciality throws that will come with time but aren't crucial). The rules are very simple, the gameplay is fast paced, the fouls are self regulated, and the game rules include Spirit of the Game which basically means don't be a jerk. No contact, co-ed, lots of fun.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:30 AM on March 21, 2013

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