Sports in the military are a fundamental part to personal development, morale, operational effectiveness and most importantly, fighting spirit. Deployed troops are always out there fighting for us, typicallly in a foreign; thousands of miles away from those that they love. Understandably, many are the times that they desperately miss their families and time together. Their self-sacrifice and readiness to make a difference deserves merit and appreciation. Soldiers, just like most people, love to play – they need to play – so they make it work even when away on missions.

Forget the Final Four or the Super Bowl – the biggest games in the world don’t have a ref or fans. Interestingly enough, these games are usually played by men and women with much greater worries than their scores. They compete in challenging environments – for example, playing basketball in a makeshift court in the middle of no-where or playing in a hangar in the middle of a desert. It hasn’t always been supported by military leaders that didn’t always believe in off-duty games and particularly in hostile regions; however, this mindset has gradually faded and now most believe that these warriors putting their lives on the line for the nation also need the normalcy of sports.

Sports for deployed troops are usually considered to be an essential part of their routines. However, it doesn’t always happen. Of course, there are times when they can’t make it work. They are fighting a war. To completely realize the value of sports to the military, you must first understand the lives of these men and women. A normal day for a soldier during a mission is characterized by at least 14 hours of work. A soldier will normally work 7 days a week. In a week, you get only half a day to clean your living space and do laundry. While soldiers are usually trained to handle that; it’s reasonable to say they are generally under a lot more pressure than the normal person.

Once work is accomplished, a soldier usually has between 12 and 18 hours before doing it again. It is this period that they use for recreation – when they are not sleeping, eating or showering. There are a reasonable number of recreational options, but sports are a very good escape from the long days. Additionally, sports are also a nice outlet from the combat environment for those feeling stressed by it. Sports played vary depending on geographic location, interest and population. Here are a few common sports that deployed troops engage in:

SOCCER

For starters, soccer is all about the running. As play in soccer is constant, it is a great sport for strength and heart health. Playing recreational soccer doesn’t need a large field or many people. You can make it as simple as having a kick with your pals. Recreational soccer can also be done virtually anywhere – in streets, backyards and even on beaches. All you require is a soccer ball.

It is also the most hip and most played sport in the planet. It is an especially great sport when troops from different units come together. For instance, if you find yourself in a group of British soldiers and need to kill the boredom, then a game of soccer is a great choice.

MARTIAL ARTS

Common martial arts performed by deployed troops include karate and kung fu. Apart from keeping soldiers fit and healthy at all times, martial arts instills excellent character traits such as hard work, discipline and having a sense of responsibility. Working with a partner is battle training of the best kind. This way, your muscles adapt to change and fatigue giving you the best body exercises possible.

BASKETBALL

Recreational basketball is so flexible that you can have fun in various ways. You can shoot some hoops by yourself or play a friendly game with your buddies. Basketball, like soccer is highly anaerobic and is great for overall fitness. It’s exercise that comes in bursts of great running and jumping, amid short walks and jogs depending on the game. This continuous rise and recovery of the breathing and heart rates helps in building stamina and enhances your ability to recuperate from exertion.

Conclusion

The military encourages sports among deployed troops because they know that it is vital for people to maintain physical fitness. Additionally, it’s beneficial to help deployed troops in managing their stress. If you ask a soldier the real importance of playing sports while on deployment, they will tell you that it is the only moment that they get to dominate their small “peaceful” world. Afterward, there would be a new mission and soldier life would be back on the line. But in that particular moment, one is virtually only thinking about soccer or whatever it is that they are playing.

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