Why Team Sports Athletes Make Great Triathletes

For athletes coming from a single-sport history of swimming, cycling or running, planning to do a triathlon is an obvious choice for an endurance sport goal. Though not as obvious, athletes moving from team sports such as volleyball, basketball, softball, soccer and other similar sports have some advantages when they decide to train for a triathlon.

Let me explain.

You Have Upper Body Coordination

If you played a team sport that required the use of your upper body to throw a ball, you have some coordination and strength. This can be an advantage when you learn the new sport of swimming.

Caution: Swimming is very technique oriented and can be discouraging for beginners. Be patient when learning the new skills.

You Have Balance

All of the team sports previously mentioned require balance. You maneuver around a field of play, avoiding or advancing on competitors. You try to score or try to prevent a score. You can easily move in all directions and you are nimble on your feet. Body awareness and balance are essential skills to possess for cycling. They are good for swimming and running as well.

Caution: Should you decide to use clipless pedals when you begin cycling, there is a learning curve to unclipping and putting a foot down when you come to a stop. There is also a learning curve for getting clipped into the pedals, but it is usually less of a concern than getting unclipped.

You Are a Runner

Though you haven't been training for distance running, in most team sports you have had to do running as part of training or the game. The distance of running done in each effort and the total running within a game varies by sport and position played, but you do have some running history. Running history is a good thing.

Caution: Because you have some running history, it is tempting to run too much too soon. When you begin your triathlon training journey, start conservatively and build running endurance in a progressive manner.

You Have Power

The sport you came from was fast-moving and most of the players possess a good deal of power. You are fast on your feet. Studies have shown that the fastest distance runners spend the least amount of time in contact with the ground—they have power. If you played a sport that required jumping or sprinting you've got a good training base for minimal ground contact time.

Caution: If you came from a sport background that was fast and powerful, you will need to dial back running speed while you build endurance.

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