January 3, 2019

What’s the connection between team sports and weight loss? It’s probably not what you think.

Team sports are great for helping people develop skills, fitness and teamwork, but helping them lose weight? Not so much. Unless, of course, we’re looking at the the impact of the mindset that team sports help to develop.

Anyone who has tried losing weight knows that the physical part is the easy bit. Eat the right foods, drink the right drinks, do some exercise, and the weight falls off.

What’s important on a daily basis, and this is where the benefits of team sports enter the picture, is the mindset that allows the physical parts to happen.

Team work

Team sports help us learn how to work with others and to rely on their skills and support. We come to understand that we can’t achieve our goals on our own – we need to outsource to others with expertise. In netball, the goal keeper can’t win a game without the expertise of the goal shooter, and vice versa.

It sounds counter-intuitive that something as personal as losing weight can’t be done alone. All the information anyone needs is at their fingertips via a Google search, yet people are still frustrated and not getting the results they desire. Information is not what’s lacking: specialised support is often the missing ingredient.

Di lost 13.6kg and 54cm: “I come from a family of strong women who were gifted sports women: all have Australian titles in athletics and swimming. I also played netball and represented clubs and schools with high achievements in a majority of sports… I share this journey along with my husband who enthusiastically supports me in every step of the way.”


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to win every game? To catch every ball uncontested? In team sports, despite our best efforts sometimes things don’t go our way. The netball umpire didn’t see the contact, the shooter missed a shot, the other team were simply too good. We learn, over time, that the result of the game does not impact on the rest of our lives.

Similarly, sometimes the weight loss journey is frustrating or confusing. Spend the weekend eating chips and drinking wine and then lose weight, or be super-disciplined for a two week stretch only to gain 100g? It’s not fair, it doesn’t make sense, but the resilience learned through team sports helps us to overcome the disappointment and keep on going.

Brionie lost 11.2kg and 46.5cm: “I never used to be able to run in a game of netball but now I can plus more…I do PT twice a week and each time they are always doing different things to push me to my absolute limit & I always feel so great once I have finished!”


Turning up for training week in week out, being early for the game, and accepting responsibility for the things you do well along with the things you don’t do so well are all learned through team sports.

Accepting responsibility for your weight loss results is an essential part of the journey. Eating donuts for morning tea and expecting weight loss is unrealistic, but to then blame the program or the person who supplies the donuts is irresponsible. Taking responsibility and being honest with yourself about your choices and actions is as essential attribute.

Dallas B Before and After

Dallas lost 27.1kg and 89.5cm: “Every week, my amazing coach was there to motivate and support me. Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs, I’m human after all. I like to drink with friends and family and I’m never going to give up chocolate. But it’s all in moderation. And for me, the slower the weight loss the better. You need to surround yourself with people that support you… my Mum and sister held me accountable but were also realistic that things didn’t always go as planned… I’m going to play netball this year and my daughters are so excited to watch me play. That right there is worth everything.”

Time management

 “I’m too busy to go to the gym” is an excuse we’ve all heard. To be more honest and accurate, most of the time the statement should be “Going to the gym is not important enough to me”. For anyone playing netball, no matter how busy they are, they still prioritise the time to get to training and the game.

Making the changes that are needed to lose weight take time. Pulling the “I’m too busy” excuse is usually just saying “Losing weight is not important enough to me.” Most people can re-prioritise their time to achieve the things they really want. Team sports teach us that achieving goals takes time and effort.

Cate lost 11.5kg and 36cm: “My goal was a healthy achievable weight loss so I could get rid of my ‘muffin top’, fit into my clothes & maybe even a bikini again ready for summer. I started getting up early to get to the gym 4 times a week in the mornings as it was the only time that fitted with my lifestyle. I had to be cautious as I have arthritis in my back & dodgy netball knees, but I found the workouts really helped me get back into fitness in a controlled environment.”

Respect and consequences

Following the rules and being penalised for breaking the rules is all a part of team sports. Bump your opponent in netball and you’re put ‘out of play’. Hold the ball too long and the umpire gives it to the other team. Best results are achieved when the team follows the rules.

Following a weight loss program is no different. Abide by the rules and get results. Bending or breaking the ‘rules’ to do it your own way, usually leads to unsatisfactory outcomes. The idea of actions having consequences that is learned through team sports can be directly applied to losing weight.

Monique lost 19.7kg and 66.5cm: “I love playing netball, but after the first quarter I would be short of breath and come off… It has been a long 6 months but has been full of goals achieved not only in my personal life but my work life: this has been due to a happier, healthier me.”


Through team work, we learn how to communicate with others. Team sports require face-to-face communication. Especially for kids growing up in the digital age of social media communications, team sport offers the opportunity to communicate with team mates, coaches, referees and other officials. Expressing needs and wants is essential to good communication.

When applying communication skills to weight loss, it’s not just a matter of saying “No thanks” to the offer of chips. Family members, friends, and social situations all need to be navigated in order to achieve the desired results, so the communication skills learned through team sports make expressing your needs and wants a lot easier.

Team sports teach us the skills and mindset that helps us resist temptation, accept the wins and the losses, and pull up our big girl pants and get on with it.