One of the hard parts about transitioning from being a student to the real world (whatever that means, anyway) is the lack of opportunities for competing in organised sports. In a school setting, the opportunities are built right in, with teams, daily practices, and competitions.
Outside of school, the options for competition dwindle fast, which is hard to handle if you’ve been used to playing a lot of sports — and have a competitive streak you need to get out, one way or another.
That said, there are a number of options out there that you can take part in, some of which may surprise you.
3D archery is a sport where competitors walk a numbered course through the woods, pausing at designated spots to shoot targets that resemble animals such as bears, deer, elk, and sometimes even Bigfoot, at varying distances. For each target, there is a scoring ring meant to mimic the animal’s vitals, with higher points awarded for hitting the animal’s heart and lungs.
The best way to find local 3D archery tournaments is to visit an archery shop or check out archery associations, such as the Archery Shooters Association.
Amateur boxing is a separate sport from professional boxing, with a number of additional safety precautions, as well as opportunities for adults of all ages to compete. Competitors wear headgear and use bigger gloves, and bouts are limited to a total of three rounds.
Boxing Australia is the sanctioning organisation for all amateur boxing matches, with a Senior Division for adults aged 19-40, as well as a Master’s division for adults 35 and over, which matches opponents by age, weight, and gender, with opponents being within ten years of age.
If you are serious about competing, the best way to start is by finding your local boxing gym, and ask if they have an amateur program. The good gyms will teach you the fundamentals, while also giving you the opportunity to start sparring at a timeline and intensity level that is comfortable for you.
Cycling and mountain biking
Whether you enjoy the high speeds associated with road cycling or the technical challenge of mountain biking, there are a number of opportunities for competition at all ages and skill levels.
The best way to get started is by visiting your local bike shop to ask about training opportunities and cycling clubs, as well as local races.
In powerlifting competitions, competitors are divided into classes by age, weight and gender. Weight classes for women range from 44 kg to 90+, while men’s range from 50 to 145+. Competitors strive to reach maximum capability in the deadlight, squat, and bench press, with points awarded for each repetition performed at a specific weight. The wider the gap between your weight and the weight you lift, the higher the points.
For training, check out your nearest gym that specialises in powerlifting. For competition opportunities, check out Powerlifting Australia.
When it comes to competing as an adult, running is a popular option, and for a good reason. There’s no fancy equipment involved, and there is every imaginable type of race out there, from 5Ks to ultramarathons. There are road races and trail races on all types of terrain, and they can be found in every corner of the world. Whatever suits your mood, there’s a race for it. Plus, there’s usually food (and sometimes even early morning beer) waiting for you at the finish line.
If you want to kick your training up a notch, or you like the social aspect of running, it’s always a good idea to find a local training group. Your local running store is usually a good place to start, as they can fit you with the right shoes and offer information about local races and training programs.
In strongman competitions, competitors are asked to pick up and/or hold a variety of heavy objects. Unlike with powerlifting, which concentrates on three main lifts, strongman competitions vary in what you are asked to pick up and how. The variety and unpredictability serves as a test for a strongman’s (or strongwoman’s) athleticism.
You also don’t have to be a 6’5” and 136 kg to be a strongman competitor, as there are different weight classes to compete in — and the sport is growing in popularity among women, too. To learn more about strongman competitions, check out the strongman website, which has an events calendar and lists of gyms that offer strongman training.
Master’s swimming is for adults 18 and over and offers a number of opportunities for training, as well as competing through Australia’s Master’s Swimming organisation. Swimming clubs will often have a coach available to offer training, while many of the clubs also offer “learn to swim” classes for adults.
Your local YMCA is also a good option for swimming lessons and a pool you can practice in.
Tennis is a sport that offers competition opportunities for all ages and levels. The Tennis Australia Association is the major governing body, and it offers social tennis programs, competitive leagues, and tournaments for adults.