Some people think of summer sports as simply fun; some take them more seriously. Either way, they offer many advantages, particularly in Fairfield County following a long, cold, snowy winter.
Dennis Hillman, director of instruction at the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield, helps people become more skilled at the sport. “In older adults, the body gets tight or weak. Since all joints are involved in golf, it is important to get an assessment of how a person moves by a trained eye,” Hillman says, adding that technology has played such a major role in concentration abilities, particularly for young people, that the center offers mindfulness training, which includes visualization and concentration.
There are also social benefits to golf, because most players play in a foursome, and consequently, the sport helps the group bond. “Golf is good for the ego because it’s OK to miss a shot. It’s OK to fail,” Hillman contends, and in addition to creating friendships, it helps players control their emotions.
The company’s founder and CEO, Roger Knick, recently appeared on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive in honor of Junior Golf Week, showing how Junior Golf Hub’s tools help players and parents successfully navigate the journey to college golf, according to Hillman.
Jane Pimento, president of the Longshore Sailing School in Westport, emphasizes the many advantages of sailing, beginning with the trust it instills in youngsters, as well as in adults. “Just being outdoors in the fresh air and being more aware of the natural surroundings promotes happiness and health in people,” Pimento explains. Those who are glued to their cell phones will invariably put them away, as sailing requires the utmost attention. “Sailors need to be aware of the weather and shifts in the wind. They should be prepared and ready for anything that comes their way.” Invariably, they will learn to predict the weather.
“You use your entire body as a tool to counteract the force of the wind and to keep balance on the sailboat,” Pimento notes. “Therefore, sailing helps build endurance and strengthens muscles, and the physical advantages are many.”
Pimento stresses that overcoming fear is a great advantage in sailing, as sailors learn to trust what they have learned and experienced, and become more confident in themselves. “Sailing looks a lot easier than it is. You can’t control the speed until you have reached a certain level of skill,” Pimento explains. “It’s a marriage of practical and scientific.”
Studies have shown that water sports can help develop physical fitness and contribute to good health, and swimming in particular helps tone muscles and is a good way to maintain a healthy heart, lungs, and weight. And it doesn’t require any gear other than a bathing suit.
Erica Bates, a spokesperson for Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford, reports that the facility is particularly busy during the summer because athletes of all ages can participate in clinics designed to help them overcome individual weaknesses and reduce risk of injury while promoting flexibility and agility. “Summer offers athletes the opportunity to work intensely on specific areas,” Bates says. Whether it’s tennis, squash, soccer, or any team sport that doesn’t practice in the summer, this is where athletes can work out problem areas. Even swimmers can learn techniques that are invaluable in and out of the pool, Bates says.
“Children taking classes and attending camps here show a tremendous amount of growth, both physically and socially,” she notes. “While some kids might not be friends at school, they do become friends here. Put a football or a soccer ball in front of a group of kids and they will come together. They become friends because they belong to a group with the same interests. They are not judged on anything except what they enjoy, and they love talking about it.”