Good Sports for a Non-Sporty Person
March 30, 2007 9:40 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a sport that I could be good at.

I'm terrible at sport. I'm never picked for teams, can't even walk far without panting, and every sporting event I enter, I lose. One of my life goals is to find a sport that I'm good at - there has to be something! - but I'm not sure where to start.

Things I've tried:

Softball: Can't hit the ball most of the time, throwing is also dodgy

Netball: Haven't actually played a game, but have shot hoops. It takes me a while for me to score hoops. I'm not very tall though.

Bowling: I had beginner's luck, but it's deteriorating rapidly. I'm lucky if I hit a pin.

Running/Walking: Always last in sprints. I tire out easily and need constant breaks (doesn't help that I have flat feet and dodgy ankles). Used to walk competitively, but always came in last - though I did finish, which was a credit.

Squash: Tried it once, never got the hang of it.

Swimming: Was trained for it for a while, but I have an intense fear of deep water and I have to overcome that before thinking of swimming competitively!

Table tennis: I'm OK, not terrific. My performance varies widely.

Shotput/javelin/discus: I can throw stuff but not very far.

Long jump/high jump: Can't clear either hurdle.

Cheerleading: Probably my best option, but I haven't managed to do any flips or anything fancy like that

Martial arts: Tried taekwando and kickboxing - didn't really enjoy it and was tired out too quickly

Rollerskating/blading: Bad sense of balance

Badminton: I was trained in this for many years and I think I can do an OK game. I'm out of practice though, and I wasn't much good anyway.

Golf: I can't even hit golf balls in driving ranges properly

I tend to be more cerebral and artistic; I can do mental challenges very well, and can perform decently. It's just sports that elude me at the moment.

The nearest "sporty" thing I'm actually good at is dance. I enjoy performance and creativity, have a good sense of rhythm, and learn things quickly. I suspect that if I had started earlier, I may be pretty good in gymnastics: however, I never got any training, and now I'm 21 (female) with questionable flexibility and I can't even do a tumble. Trampolining sounds fun, but again no training.

I've got friends (and a boyfriend) that are all so sporty, even if they don't immediately look it. I'd like to join them in a game without feeling frustrated about not getting or not even scoring once.

I'm 21, female, average built, slow and prone to aches, not a lot of stamina. I'm learning swimming again (slowly!) and also do pilates and occasional yoga. I walk to most places. What sort of sport can I try?
posted by divabat to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (57 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Fencing! Diving!
posted by phrontist at 9:50 PM on March 30, 2007

But really, fencing is like really explosive and competitive dancing. Grace and fury.
posted by phrontist at 9:50 PM on March 30, 2007

Golf: I can't even hit golf balls in driving ranges properly

Nor can most amateur golfers. If you were to try more golf, I'd recommend going out and playing rather than forcing yourself into the tedium of the driving range. Look for an "executive" or "par 3" course--these short courses are often much cheaper than the real thing, less frustrating and more fun for a beginner.

Though the big negative about par 3 courses is that you wouldn't get to drive a golf cart, which is sometimes the best thing about golf. :)
posted by mullacc at 9:57 PM on March 30, 2007

This may sound like a cop-out of an answer, but pick the thing that is most appealing to you, and just stick with it for a while. You will be terrible, then you will suck , then you'll be merely bad. Eventually though, you might end up competent, or perhaps even good.

Also, find someone supportive to do it with. You don't need your friends showing you up and rubbing your face in it.
posted by Good Brain at 9:58 PM on March 30, 2007

Have you tried bicycling?
posted by iconomy at 9:59 PM on March 30, 2007

Response by poster: phrontist: NO NOT DIVING! It was diving that gave me my massive fear of water.

Good Brain: The problem with that is that everytime I try, I fail, and it stops being appealing. I don't even know what's appealing in the first place. My friends don't rub me in the face for it, they're actually quite supportive; they're just tons better than me and I feel bad about it.

iconomy: Actually I did, but never got past training wheels - my cousin wrecked my bike when I was younger and I never got back to it. It is something I'd like to learn though.
posted by divabat at 10:03 PM on March 30, 2007

Climbing. Figuring out routes is very cerebral, and climbing can balance oriented.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:04 PM on March 30, 2007

Some earlier threads have brought up the couch to 5k routine. You may not have a lot of endurance today, but it's something that can be built! The endurance you build by doing cardio (running, biking, swimming) translates to being able to keep up in soccer, basketball, etc. You may be "non-sporty" today, but that's not necessarily a permanent condition. Hard work and patience is a prerequisite, however.
posted by knave at 10:07 PM on March 30, 2007

One of my life goals is to find a sport that I'm good at...

Sorry, had to call this out. For many people, myself included, it's not about finding a sport you're good at. By default, most people aren't particularly good at any sport. It's about choosing a sport you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) and then dedicating enough time to get good at it.
posted by knave at 10:09 PM on March 30, 2007 [4 favorites]

Not to sound combative...but why do you have to be "good" at any of these sports? Is that really 100% of the reason you do them? Because if so, you'll end up with a really long list of sports that you could be enjoying, but don't because you've attached a bunch a value judgments and negative thinking to them.

That said, if you really want to continue searching for the magical sport that you'll be good at right out the gate, here are a few you haven't listed yet...

Long distance running (very, very different from sprinting)
Synchronized Swimming
Hula Hooping and Fire Throwing (at the same time!)
Tap/Ballet/Swing/Salsa Dancing
Ice Skating

If you're really competitive and want to be topdog at a sport, I'd suggest doing something that your boyfriend/friends have not done yet, and if you like it, stick with it. That's really the only true way to get good.

Another thing to think about too...some people aren't necessarily good at some sport, but they have mad style. And that's unique and enviable.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:13 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I just figured that there has to be a sport that I'm at least OK in. So far I've just been terrible - not even mediocre in most cases.

iamkimiam: I've done tap, and really enjoyed it. As mentioned earlier, I'm good at dance (tap and hiphop, willing to learn more). Those are some good ideas though. I'd LOVE to do synchronized swimming, but let me get used to the idea of not feeling the floor of a pool first...
posted by divabat at 10:18 PM on March 30, 2007

Chess boxing?
posted by YamwotIam at 10:22 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I notice you don't mention any snow sports. I know Australia has some quality snow; I don't know about your environs, though.

Anyway, I'm kind of like you: unathletic, generally poor balance, cerebral, creative. But I love snowboarding. Love it love it love it. It's the only athletic endeavor in which I'm better than some people, though that's probably due more to extensive practice than to any intrinsic skill.

Nice things about it: 1. Lots of freedom. You can focus on what you want to focus on. Carving down the mountain at incredible speeds? You can work on doing that. Tricks and flips and jumps? If you want, you can be doing stuff like that within your first season of riding. 2. It's as competitive as you want it to be. Compete with your previous performances, compete with your friends, try and do what the best rider on the mountain is doing, or just have fun. 3. I like the culture; that's a matter of taste, I guess. 4. The scenery. Better than any basketball court you'll ever see in your entire life, I guarantee.

Drawbacks: It's expensive, and if you don't have access to a mountain, a no-go.

Sorry for going off on this so long; I went for probably my last runs of the season today, and just had a blast, and was thinking about this stuff.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:24 PM on March 30, 2007

If you're not looking specifically for something competitive, another possibility might be circus arts. Dunno about Brisbane, but around here, anyway, you can take a variety of classes in all sorts of aerial dance: hoops, trapeze, tissu, that kind of thing. Your Pilates work is likely a good start for this, and it'd impress the living daylights out of people. And I hear it's a lot of fun.
posted by sculpin at 10:36 PM on March 30, 2007

Racquetball is kind of like table tennis and badminton, both of which you said you're OK in, but it's in a closed space so there's less running around required. You can make up for a lot of physical disadvantage with some smart angled hits.

On preview, sculpin reminded me that juggling is also fun.
posted by scottreynen at 10:46 PM on March 30, 2007

Also, Bocce ball.
posted by scottreynen at 10:48 PM on March 30, 2007

I'm gonna go ditto with mr_roboto. i'm terrible at most sports but i love to ski. and i seem to be good at it. but its mostly about exploring the mountain and having fun.
might not be great in australia though...
posted by alkupe at 11:10 PM on March 30, 2007

It sounds like you haven't given any one of these enough time that you'd improve through practice. Pick one that you enjoy and try that, instead of assuming you have some hidden talent for a sport. Most people don't and are only good because they do it a lot.
posted by Loto at 11:12 PM on March 30, 2007

"can't even walk far without panting"

Er, this is slightly off-topic maybe, but are you sure you don't have asthma of some kind, or some other medical reason that would be limiting your physical abilities? It just struck me how you mention a few times that you need constant breaks and the like while walking or running. Anyway, if for some reason you do have a limited aerobic capacity, then I would obviously steer away from those types of activities--not that you have be superior at something to do it, but it helps to have a minimal level of comfort.

The solution is clear: foosball.
posted by chinston at 11:14 PM on March 30, 2007

Also, rugby! It is a relatively uncommon sport (at least in the states) and even if you can't play well, they'll always have a place for you (the backs.)
posted by Loto at 11:16 PM on March 30, 2007

I'm seconding the "no one is just naturally good" at any given sport - you have to work at it. The best way to do this is to find a beginners league, where there's no pressure to perform and everyone is about at your level. You'll all have fun making stupid mistakes together and grow better as time goes on.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:25 PM on March 30, 2007

Hey Diva
I know they have these cool scooter bikes you can rent along southbank, I saw it on some kid's show called Shak (or something) a couple of days ago.

As a very not good sportsperson myself, I recommend walking and hiking (obviously not on the north side of Brissy at the moment), canoeing (if you can find a river that's not dried up), swimming (before it gets too cold - Southbank is FREE and there's often cute bods there - oh and the pool without sand you can ALWAYS touch the bottom of, it's like only 3 feet deep).

I personally avoid team sports because I feel like I'm letting the team down but around International Women's Day, i sometimes get a group of friends together and do the 5K run (as a walk). I know you can get trampolining lessons in Brisbane (my 50 year old sister-in-law quit that last year and took up boxing - something else to consider).

If you like rock climbing, check out the guys/gals at Kangaroo point on Saturday mornings (and some nights too). How about tai chi - I think that's offered in the gardens at Garden's Point (QUT). It seems really easy, and is so slow even old folk can do it, but after a session, your muscles are twanging with the effort.
posted by b33j at 11:34 PM on March 30, 2007

For those suggesting skiiing, Divabat lives about 1500km (or 18 driving hours) from the snow.
posted by b33j at 11:37 PM on March 30, 2007

Try the stuff that's on the sports channels but is not usually considered as such: ballroom dancing/belly dancing; race-walking; road-rallying; poker/bridge.
posted by rob511 at 11:47 PM on March 30, 2007

You and I have a lot in common, except I'm a guy (so it's even more important to be good at sports!). I'm still waiting to find that one I'm really good at, and good luck to you in finding it also.

BUT the advice above about finding a sport you like (or maybe just one you can do without falling down or passing out or something) and getting better is (perhaps surprisingly) very good advice. I have no natural skill at any physical activity (other than being tall -- sorry about that!) but:

- After playing tennis every day for a week or two one summer, with some instruction, I got to be pretty decent. Of course, being slow and awkward doesn't help, and I didn't exactly win tons of trophies, but I could at least compete and have fun while still developing some skills. Fortunately I could also play against my brother, who was learning with me, so we played some competitive matches.

- Twice in my life I have picked up basketball after not doing it for awhile, both times going from being terrible to being a decent part of a team in a fairly short period of time. Again, depends on who you play against, but basketball is something where it's very possible to get better with practice.

As for basketball, being tall helps, of course, but my roommate -- who is not tall *and* has asthma *and* is not particularly aggressive - is great at shooting from far away, so if his teammates can get him the ball, he can do a lot to help the team. He could be five feet tall or seven feet tall and do pretty much the same thing. (OK, not exactly, but the point is height doesn't disqualify someone from basketball like you might think.) I know you said you've done some shooting (I don't know how different netball is from basketball, though) but my roommate swears it's a skill one can develop with some work. I've been playing every day lately (highly recommended!) and my shooting has gotten somewhat better, but I don't really work at it (since that's not the focus of how I play). But it makes me tend to believe that, yes, it's possible to improve. Anyway, basketball can be physically draining but if you play it on a half-court (maybe with teams of 3 or so), it's not that bad.

Give something a try for a week or three, preferably with a group of supportive (and maybe not very good) people, and you can probably improve more significantly than you think.
posted by SuperNova at 11:48 PM on March 30, 2007

You need a Trikke (and a good helmet, gloves, knee and elbow pads).
posted by paulsc at 11:50 PM on March 30, 2007

If you're good at dance, maybe have a look at Capoeira?
posted by juv3nal at 11:59 PM on March 30, 2007

I'm terrible at sport.... I'm lucky if I hit....
Always last.... never got the hang of it....
I wasn't much good anyway....
feeling frustrated about not getting or not even scoring once....

You sound very familiar, and it sounds like a lot of your problem is in your attitude. It sounds like over half of these sports you've tried, you -could- be just fine in; certainly 'good enough' to have fun with friends. As a cerebral/mental/artistic person, I'm sure you have a lot of 'talent' for those things, which you've never really had to work hard at; they come easily to you, and you're automatically 'good' at them from the beginning. You're assuming your sport of choice should be the same way, and you're getting disappointed and frustrated when sport doesn't come as naturally to you as art or mathmatics.

Unless you're Supergirl, you don't get to be automatically perfect at everything from Day One. Some things are going to be harder work for you. There are people who are natural athletes who run like deer, but who couldn't draw a duck or solve a word problem without a lot of sweat, effort, and failing, many times; being really bad at it, slowly getting better, before they finally get competent, maybe even good at it. And they'll only put in that effort if they are forced to, or if they really want to.

No one's forcing you to take a sport... you're going to have to find something that just appeals to you, and put in the time and effort, and just plain be no damn good at it for awhile, until you learn how to do it and you build up the muscles and stamina needed to do it. I know that at 21 it's hard not to think that your body is as good as it's ever going to be and you are incapable of improvement, but you -can- become good at almost any sport; all it takes is practice and training, no matter what your 'talents'. Olympic level? Maybe not... but who cares?

Anyway... to help answer your question, why not try horseback riding? It's good excercise, lots of fun, and the horse does most of the hard work.
posted by Rubber Soul at 11:59 PM on March 30, 2007

posted by infinityjinx at 12:11 AM on March 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

You could go row with the girls, too, being as you've got a nice river there in Brisbane.
posted by paulsc at 12:24 AM on March 31, 2007

Not sure how your fear of deep water would fare here, but how about sailing/canoeing/kayaking? Dragonboat racing?
posted by elisynn at 12:55 AM on March 31, 2007

YamwotIam, thanks for the chessboxing link! That provided a rare WTF???? experience! It reminds me of Seinfeld's answer to the biathalon (where you ski, then target-shoot): "swim... then strangle a guy!"

To the question: I don't know how much time you spent on golf, but please reconsider it, and take lessons. I love golf, but I am TERRIBLE at it. However, I am good enough to keep up with my friends; in other words they don't have to wait for me while I find my ball in the rough or anything.

Although it does take some finesse, and is by no means "easy," golf is one of the few sports that a does not rely on strength or speed or being "in shape" in order to be good at. Fat 80 year olds can regularly beat young folks. It's all about technique.

An observation if I may: do you give up easily? To have tried SO MANY sports seems like you can't possibly have given any of them a fair chance. Better to focus on one or two for an extended period, than to keep trying to find one that you just automatically are good at.

You say you had good luck with bowling, but it's deteriorating. Now is the time for some lessons. Your "beginner's luck" is probably because you didn't think about it too much. Now, you want to be GOOD, so you are pressuring yourself. Learn some consistency and technique.

Golf for good weather, bowling for bad. That's all you need. Good luck.
posted by The Deej at 2:00 AM on March 31, 2007

Seconding the sailing/rowing suggestions

Also, Brisbane has a regular curling comp in Boondall which is very amateur but very fun. Good exercise too.

If you're not good with balance for blading taking up a related sport like Inline Hockey or Rollerderby (both of which are available in Brisvegas)

Check out kickbikes too. Like giant scooters.
posted by kaydo at 2:10 AM on March 31, 2007

I'm going to have to suggest the golfing don't have to be particularly athletic to be good at golf. It's just practice which leads to a good swing...practice, practice, practice. It's one of those things you can work on on your own, without explicit help - usually. Granted it needs a bit of coordination, but you don't need to run 6 miles at a, it seems your from the UK so 10km at a time...
posted by ASM at 2:33 AM on March 31, 2007

Not really a sport per se but....have you ever considered yoga?
There is mental discipline and physical activity combined in a completely non competative way. Hatha Yoga with emphasis on suppleness, flexibility, and balance; the same disciplines as found in gymnastics, together with the mental concentration
required maybe what you are looking for. Why not give it try.
Don't sign up for any particular school until you have done a session there. Talk with the teacher and others in the group to see if the exercises are demanding / not too demanding for you; I think you will enjoy the feedback from your erstwhile companions.
posted by adamvasco at 2:52 AM on March 31, 2007

Loto: As a back, I strongly resent that. Its always the forwards that never make it to the breakdown on time, and lose yard after yard by being lazy in the scrums. Not to mention fucking up lineouts. (Yes, I know I'm full of shit)

Seriously though, try skiing. Its amazing how much you can pick up the first couple times you go. If you have trouble walking/running, I don't think rowing would be a good fit. I can run quite well, but 10 minutes erging and I'm next to dead.
posted by devilsbrigade at 3:21 AM on March 31, 2007

Response by poster: As b33j said, I am nowhere near snow. Like seriously nowhere. I'll need to catch a flight to even think about skiing.

I suppose a lot of this is deep-seated heartache starting from school days, where you had to do all these sports (hence the long list!) and you're never any good and so you get left behind and no one seems to give you a chance. Over and over again I was told that I'd never amount to anything when it comes to sport. After a while it just gets to you, y'know? I don't want it to get to me anymore.

Yamwotlam: HAHA! I've seen a documentary about that. Oddly enough, I still don't understand chess, but oddball stuff like that really intrigues me. Are there any more like it - strange pairings or combinations of things? I quite like treasure hunts and obstacle courses - did rope courses once, that was fun...

sculpin: I am thinking about doing circus arts, actually. Helps satiates my inner wannabe gymnast. I missed enrolments for classes this term, but I'm definitely signing up when the chance comes.

scottreyen: Interestingly, my sister's boyfriend does contact juggling! I can do some tricks with a tennis ball, don't know if that's sporty though (it should be! hahaha)

chinston: No, no asthma, but my lungs are a bit dodgy. I'm better now actually - I can walk about 1 or 2 KM without being winded out, though that also largely depends on the weather.

adamvasco: I do yoga occasionally; our college provides free lessons. Not sure what school it is but they do go rather indepth into traditions.

There are some interesting suggestions, including some I didn't think about - climbing (love abseiling!), scooter bikes (how are they different from normal bikes?), maybe more racquet stuff?

Thanks for the brainstorming, it does help.
posted by divabat at 4:42 AM on March 31, 2007

I second Capoeira, or maybe another martial art (not Brazilian jujitsu or another "wrestling" art if you're not interested in rolling around on the ground). The point of Capoeira is not fighting, but engaging in a sort of acrobatic martial arts dance with opponents--sparring is even called "play". So it doesn't even have to be contact, if you don't want to. If you have good muscle memory for acrobatic/dancing moves, you should pick it up quickly. It will get you strong and fit, and everyone will be jealous of your sweet moves.

I just started taking it myself, and man, I sure wish I had your dancing background, because I have trouble figuring my right out from my left.
posted by schroedinger at 5:38 AM on March 31, 2007

Thirding fencing. I've done fencing for over ten years, and it's fantastic. Anyone can fence, no matter what shape they're in (I'm not amazingly athletic, but have been to the US Nationals). It's mentally challenging and as a big plus, you can stab people.
posted by nursegracer at 5:51 AM on March 31, 2007

Dance Dance Revolution? You know, those arcade machines that people dance on?

It's not exactly a "sport" but can be competitive. It's fun, a good workout. If you get a playstation you can play it in the privacy of your own home.
posted by MCTDavid at 5:54 AM on March 31, 2007

I'm getting the impression that you need to first build up some strength and endurance. So how about getting a personal trainer and working on basic fitness, doing some weight training among other things, and then going back and trying some other sports you could try with your friends?

I also wouldn't consider myself an athletic person, I am especially atrocious at any sport that involves a ball (golf, tennis, basketball, etc., although I was surprisingly good at field hockey in elementary school). I had a golf instructor give up on me! But I enjoy bicycling and in the past enjoyed and was decent at rock climbing. At some point I took a weight training class for women and discovered I really enjoyed that. The bonus was that I also built up the strength and endurance to engage in other athletic pursuits at a respectable level.
posted by needled at 6:24 AM on March 31, 2007

I feel compelled to chime in here. Given the number of sports you've "tried" and discounted, I would simply say get on with it. As far as I can see, you've not commited to anything. How can you expect to get better or know that you enjoy it without giving it a reasonable go? And by that I mean a season or at least several months.

I'm female in my mid 40's and I'd call myself a golfer at this point. I was crap at it when I started three decades ago and I think it would be fair to say I'm reasonable good now. I stuck with it.

Thankfully, I am fairly coordinated. I played competitive tennis in highschool and took up bowling for a summer in my early 20's. It was enjoyable but I need to be outside. I've also cycled and sailed, although I wouldn't call sailing a sport.

To boil it down, you're in Brisbane. There are a ton of public access golf courses there. It's as leasurely or athletic as you want it to be. The whole principle of the handicapping system is to make it possible for people of all capabilities to compete equally against each other. And, I think it's good fun besides ;-)

Here's a link to the Women's golf network in Victoria.
posted by michswiss at 6:34 AM on March 31, 2007

How about skill games instead of "sports"?
- Air hockey.
- Darts.
- Table Shuffleboard.
- Frisbee golf.
- Croquet.
- Bocce is fun too!
posted by meindee at 7:39 AM on March 31, 2007

I would like to put in a plug for uni sport. If you still live at IH, then I know there's a massive college sports program, and I've seen enough of it to know that many people are participating without any background or ability in the sports, more so for girls, and especially in team sports. I think that finding something you can do regularly is an important consideration. I play for the UQ football (soccer) club, and we have six girls teams ranging from super athletes to girls who are more than likely to miss when kicking a stationary ball. If you were interested in that at all, we train at uni twice a week, which should be convenient for you. If that's not your thing, check out, going to Sport/Sporting Clubs. There's a huge list of clubs, from beach volleyball to wakeboarding , and all of them should be very welcoming to beginners (and are open to anyone, not just uq students). Or you can check out the recreation classes, which include several dance styles. I'm sorry if you already know all this!

For the overall idea that the ones you've tried so far haven't suited you, I have to say that it sounds like you're not very fit, which would make almost all sports harder to enjoy. If you commit to some decent level of physical activity (and swimming would be a good start) and keep it up for a few months, your fitness should improve and that would remove one barrier. For this, yoga and pilates don't really count - they're good for muscle development, but you need cardio fitness like running.** On the other hand, if you used to be even an ok badmintion player and you can dance, then you must have (or be able to redevelop) relatively good coordination, which is a headstart.

**All this is backed up only by my years of playing sport, I know no theory whatsoever.
posted by jacalata at 7:42 AM on March 31, 2007

My husband is a fencing coach-- yes, anyone can do it, but you NEED to practice.

I, however, just took up archery, and I LOVE it.
posted by oflinkey at 8:15 AM on March 31, 2007

Rock climbing. Bouldering or top-rope climbing. It's one of the first sports I've run into that I've enjoyed. There's not much of an opportunity to compare yourself to other people, and it's not a group thing, really, so it's easier to focus on your own successes [and you really can see yourself improving.] It's good for building up strength, and there's also very definitely a strategic component: you need to figure out routes, and how you can reposition yourself so that you can reach the next hold, and so on. It's not particularly aerobic, so your lung issues shouldn't be much of a problem. Combine it with some dancing classes [and don't fool yourself: dancing really is a sport], which you seem to like, and you'll be getting a pretty cool workout without having to worry about getting picked for teams or score points.

I do think it'd be worthwhile to make a pledge to stick with whatever sport you choose for, say, a year or something. Often there's a frustrating period of time after you've started a new sport or activity where your rate of improvement hits a plateau for a while. But that sort of thing happens to everyone. It might help to have the external motivation of a pledge to keep going even when you feel you're stuck: you can think to yourself "I'll keep going now, I can drop it at the end of the year if it still sucks."
posted by ubersturm at 8:16 AM on March 31, 2007

Vulcana Women's Circus run circus skills workshops for women of all levels of fitness at the Powerhouse in New Farm - creative, cerebral and athletic and they perform regularly.

Otherwise - how much do you really hate walking? In Brisbane you are so close to many National Parks, and the scenery is so beautiful you forget that you are walking. Try Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious, and further out Lamington and Springbrook National Parks, and the Glasshouse Mountains (particularly if you like climbing). Pick the shorter walks to start ands build up to the longer ones.

If you are still at UQ, definitely check out what's offered by UQ Sport and the Union's Clubs and Societies. When I was there I was part of a women's wrestling club (not jelly! or mud! freestyle) and there was a bushwalking club, a fencing group, a climbing club - many options outside the usual frame of reference.

Have you thought about horseriding?
posted by goo at 8:43 AM on March 31, 2007

I quite like treasure hunts and obstacle courses

How about orienteering?
posted by ShooBoo at 9:57 AM on March 31, 2007

One thing strikes me about the stuff you're no good at: if you have faulty depth perception, it's futile to pursue games that require you to hit or catch a projectile. After failed attempts in my youth to play badminton and ping pong or catch a frisbee, I realized that I had this problem: friends (and, more frustratingly, teachers) actually thought I was arsing around to be annoying, but I simply don't get enough coherent visual information to catch or hit things.

If this turns out to be an issue for you, there are still lots of things you can do, but you have to discount any hopes to become a tennis star. Maybe learn to beat people up instead – potentially more useful too.
posted by zadcat at 9:58 AM on March 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding archery. Even with depth perception issues, you can adjust for those. Repetition, repetition, repetition.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:25 AM on March 31, 2007

If you're interested in geeky things (and since you're on Metafilter, I bet you are) you might try geocaching. Typically, this involves walking around public places with a GPS trying to find things others have hidden based on a series of clues. It's like orienteering for geeks.

I'm a 22 year old male with a fairly similar history. I've found I enjoy downhill skiing and tennis in moderation, although I had the benefit of a long walk from student housing to campus and a physical job in the summers to keep me in shape otherwise. Skiing is nice because it's active without being competitive, and if you're willing to travel a bit you can find a lot of cool places to see while you ski. I've never done backcountry stuff, but some people really enjoy that too.
posted by Alterscape at 12:42 PM on March 31, 2007

Disc golf. It's fun, simple, you can be high while doing it, and if you play a short course, girls aren't at any disadvantage (on longer courses, guys can drive further, generally. But the three-par across town from me is perfect for me and my girlfriend).
Something else that helps, and I mention this because I did a story about disc golf but think that it's applicable to other sports, is to go ahead and get a lesson with a pro (yeah, there are disc golf pros. Whod'a thunk it?). Getting the right technique is really handy, and in games like golf really makes up for lack of power.
posted by klangklangston at 3:51 PM on March 31, 2007

I've got your bad-lungs and weak-ankles combination--it's a bitch, isn't it?

Climbing and capoeira, though, are pretty great suggestions.
How about wrestling? You're okay on strength, it sounds like, those are all heavily strength-based and require both long-term strategy and constantly responding to new situations.

And pool! Not the swimming kind, the billiards kind! It requires no endurance, but is still physical in a pleasing way. I'm generally terrible at sports, but manage pool quite well. Helps if you're good at geometry. Very social, too.
posted by hippugeek at 6:50 PM on March 31, 2007

"I suppose a lot of this is deep-seated heartache starting from school days, where you had to do all these sports (hence the long list!) and you're never any good and so you get left behind and no one seems to give you a chance. Over and over again I was told that I'd never amount to anything when it comes to sport. After a while it just gets to you, y'know? I don't want it to get to me anymore."—divabat

Aha./ That sums up my school gym experience. Coaches yelling in your face, oh yeah, that'll get me motivated, not.
So I packed it in. Hated sports. Even went to a school that had a hockey rink. Played well, but dropped it. I swear I thought in gym the idea was to get killed. That jumping horse or parallel way. Too dangerous for me.

Some great suggestions here, firstly, pick something you're interested in doing. I sense your interest in swimming, which means you'll have to get over the fear, learning to swim, thereby getting over your fear, it's all about the practice. Not to mention the fear of failure. I love water. Got into Scuba Diving too. Including ice diving in winter.

You do have to stick to it, how else will you get good at it. At anything. Practice makes permanent, as the saying goes.

My Mom, who is 76 yrs old has a brown belt in karate. She still goes 3 x's a week. She was 60 yrs old when she started.

My sister started playing hockey when she was 44yrs old. She's 51 now and still plays. Played with me in some of my men's league games too. Her attitude was, fuck the norditrack, I love hockey. The camaraderie, the physicality and the skating. She was serious and had coaching. The slap shot, for instance. We both learned skating by taking figure skating.

I started playing goal in hockey. In my 30's, when most retire because their knees are shot. My, my did I suck. For years. Years I tell you. But I did enjoy it and kept at it. A friend once said 'I can score on you with one hand behind my back', and he did. But I kept at it. At 52 yrs old, I'm playing really well now. I can hold my own against OHL players.

I'm mentioning all these personal examples, because my advice is don't start sports so late in the game like my family./ You're at your best shape you can be to do sports you may not have a choice doing later in life. We're all fortunate doing sports we enjoy. Maybe it's genetic, but...YMMV. Don't miss out on the fun. Pick one that'll be fun for you to do.

If we're going to mention chess boxing, I'm going to mention BB Gun Scrabble. You play it outdoors, near a field. There's no gun shooting allowed in the city, not even pigeons ]for soup of course[. Set up a scrabble board, two or more players. You take a turn by first shooting at a can at a certain distance and hit it, before placing your word down. Miss the can, you miss a turn. Include beers and the game slips into just BB gun shooting, of course. No, you will not find this game in the Wikipedia./ Gee, I wonder why¿

Good luck on your choices.
Good on you for thinking about it now and reasons why you're reluctant to start.
posted by alicesshoe at 11:04 PM on March 31, 2007

God, climbing. Do it, do it now. I am a fairly similar person to you: sport and I don't get along. I got into climbing through (surprise) my boyfriend, and love it. It is a sport where you're challenging yourself rather than competing against others, you feel an amazing sense of accomplishment when you've reached the top of a route, and it's a sport where you can really check your head - outdoors routes especially involve some element of problem-solving to figure out where good hand and foot holds are. I also see it as a really sociable sport, and people are incredibly encouraging. It could be because I climb with such a large group of people, though.

Are you at UQ? If so, sign up for the climbing club - they climb regularly at Kangaroo Point and there will be plenty of people who will be more than happy to offer you pointers. It is a great way of meeting people because the nature of climbing means you have to have a partner to belay you (someone on the other end of the rope).

If you need someone to encourage you, email me at I'm in Brisbane as well, and more than happy to meet up with you at Urban Climb (the indoor climbing place at West End) or at Kangaroo Point (bring your own equipment though).
posted by chronic sublime at 5:16 AM on April 1, 2007

I am seriously uncoordinated, to the extent that I was laughed off a "mixed" (read: I was the only girl) cricket team when I was 10. Scarred me for life. I was really hesitant to try new sports, but you really have to get over it and learn to laugh at yourself.

I swam from age 3-13, but never had any speed. I gave up when I was put in a squad with kids 3 years younger than me, and I stopped having fun. I played netball for 6 years(and my team spent 5 years at the bottom of the table), but we always had a ball. Height and shooting doesn't matter too much, especially if you're in defence or on the wings. The only reason I stopped was that my team disbanded, and I sort of regret not joining a new one. Fast forward 4 years and on a whim, I decided to try soccer, in an all age ladies team. We range in age from 15-40. I really, really suck, but I get to laugh at myself twice a week, at training and games (eg: today I had a clear shot at goal, but instead kicked it straight to the keeper - we were on the floor with laughter).

Please excuse my rant, but what I'm trying to say is that it doesn't really matter whether you're good at what you're doing, as long as you enjoy yourself. If you get into a sport with a great group of people (as I have with soccer) you'll find yourself enjoying it, regardless of how good you are. If you join a team at a larger club, you'll find that you get put in a team with people of a similar ability and you'll have a ball despite not being great, and you won't feel like you're letting the team down because you all don't really know what you're doing :P.
posted by cholly at 5:31 AM on April 1, 2007

I'm currently looking into iceskating and gymnastics, to take them up later in the year, perhaps. I totally suck at sports; as a result of constantly-degrading vision over the majority of my life, my hand-eye coordination is terrible at best. I don't like team sports; they tend to be far too zero-sum for me. I have very little body strength, and my balance is totally wrecked; my right knee is busted, as is my left ankle.

I'm working on these things at the moment, doing yoga, pilates, and general zero-equipment strengthwork. 6 weeks ago I couldn't touch my toes ... 10mins daily stretch has changed that - and I can just about do pushups now.

I did gymnastics for a year when I was around 7; iceskating was a once-a-week thing for a couple years, with zero instruction beyond "Tie the laces tightly". Suffice it to say I majorly suck :)

Starting at 25, there is no way I'll ever reach competition level. On the other hand, I'll have fun improving. The first time, I will be completely newbish. The second time ... less so. And eventually, I will be able to move with grace, power, and style. Maybe not as good as those who started at age 5 - but even someone okay looks like a pro compared to those who've never trained.

I guess the key thing is to remember that the only way to improve is to practice. No-one is ever a natural at any sport - it takes us about a year to learn how to walk, after all.
posted by ysabet at 10:50 PM on April 1, 2007

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