If you're feeling like your fitness level isn't what it could be or you could use some exercise inspiration, a new sport might be just what the doctor ordered. Adding variety to your workouts by trying new athletic activities and developing new skills can keep your workouts fresh and help you avoid boredom.

Trying a new athletic endeavor may seem daunting at first, but you have a lot to gain by getting involved. Taking up a new sport can help you to:

  • Improve your fitness level
  • Learn new skills and techniques
  • Improve your agility, balance, and coordination
  • Increase your confidence
  • Make new friends and expand your horizons

No matter what sport you are planning to try--whether tennis, badminton, basketball, cricket, hockey, cycling or even marathon running--you can overcome your intimidation and take the first steps toward gaining these benefits. Here's how to do it:

Do Your Homework
While you may feel eager to get to the fun part, it's important to do some initial ground work before jumping in. If you have a sport in mind, begin by doing some research to find out details about what's involved. You can conduct this research by:

  • Asking friends or family members if they have tried the sport
  • Finding athletes who are involved with the sport and learning about their experience
  • Using the Internet to look up information about the sport

It can help to keep some basic questions in mind as you begin to gather advice. By asking the right questions, you can start to get a sense of what you need to know before you begin. Here are some questions to include in your research efforts:

  • Do you need to have any baseline experience, skills, or fitness level before starting this sport?
  • Do you need to purchase any special equipment?
  • Where does the sport take place? Are there opportunities to play the sport in your local area?
  • What time are practices or games scheduled? Are there evening or weekend options that work with your schedule?
  • Are there fees associated with participation in groups, or teams, or sport events?
  • What is the best way for a beginner to get involved?

The answers you find to these questions may increase your interest in the sport, or may point you toward another type of activity that you might enjoy more based on your individual preferences. For example, you may discover that the sport you thought you wanted to try requires expensive equipment, or that the only team for beginners is outside your local area. In that case, you might be motivated to try a different sport that doesn't have these limitations.

Make a Move
Once you've done your homework and decided on your new sport of choice, it's time to get in the game. The next step is to attend a beginner's group or practice for the activity and try it out. The information that you have gathered during your research should point you toward the right place to go.

If you're feeling nervous, you might enlist a friend or family member to join you for moral support on the first day. Once you've met others on the team or in the athletic group who are also new to the sport, you'll feel more comfortable.

Commit to Trying
Be patient with yourself as you get used to the new sport and learn unfamiliar skills. It can be difficult, and at times frustrating, to master techniques as a beginner, especially when you see coaches and others around you who have been playing the sport for longer and make it look easy.

Don't give up--commit to sticking with your new sport for at least a month before you decide if it's for you or not. Once you move through the learning curve, you may discover a passion for a new activity.