21 Benefits of Playing Soccer (Physical and Emotional)

Soccer is loads of fun. And there are plenty of benefits of playing soccer when it comes to your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

It's great for your fitness and physique, and it affects your mood, emotions, and mental state, too.

Whether it’s increased self-esteem, developed friendships, or improved mood, focus, and empathy, playing soccer can improve your life in many ways.

And that's besides the staggering array of life skills that it develops such as discipline, hard work, communication, leadership, and teamwork.

Let's take a look at the benefits of playing soccer and the impact it can have on your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Physical Benefits of Playing Soccer 

Soccer is great for people's physique as it gets you haring around a pitch and constantly raising your heartbeat through sprints and shuttle runs.

Besides that, it also helps you gain muscle, strength, and stamina which help with injury prevention and improving your overall health.

Here are some of the physical benefits you can expect to see from playing soccer:

1. Increases Your Aerobic Capacity and Endurance 

Soccer players aren’t only expected to jog, run, and sprint their way around the pitch for ninety minutes.

They're also expected to jostle, jump, and compete for every ball.

That means playing the sport greatly increases your aerobic capacity.

The more you practice and play the game, the greater your endurance will be.

And this has lots of positive knock-on effects when it comes to your overall health and well-being.

While your improved conditioning and stamina should be quite noticeable, there are again lots of hidden benefits to playing such a physically demanding sport.

2. Reduces High Blood Pressure and Improves Cardiovascular Health 

Due to its high-intensity nature, playing soccer not only helps to reduce an individual's high blood pressure but also helps to lower their heart rate.

As you run around a lot with soccer, you improve your cardiovascular health.

This reduces the likelihood of you suffering a stroke or health complications later on in life.

By exercising regularly, you help to keep your heart, blood vessels, and arteries healthy; all from simply kicking a ball around a pitch!

3. Builds Muscle and Reduces Body Fat

Soccer players have to use their whole body when they play a training session or match.

So, the beautiful game is great for not only building muscle but reducing body fat.

This is because while running, kicking, jumping, and competing, you engage both your slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibres.

This combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercises is perfect for burning calories, toning your body, and putting on muscle.

4. Strengthens Bones

Besides gaining strength and stamina, you also strengthen your bones by playing soccer.

As you run and carry yourself about the pitch, your weight puts pressure on your skeletal frame, strengthening it and increasing your bone density in the process.

This will therefore help you avoid injuries and broken bones, providing of course that you don't throw yourself into any reckless tackles!

5. Improves Coordination, Agility, and Reflexes

Soccer also helps with your coordination, agility, and reflexes.

This is because you have to react quickly to what’s going on around you and dribble, tackle, pass, and turn all in a short period.

This puts your body-eye coordination to the test.

Besides improving your body coordination and reaction time, playing soccer also helps you become more agile.

You have to be quick on your toes and be ready to sprint in any direction at a moment's notice.

6. Increases Flexibility and Range of Motion

Soccer players not only have to jump, sprint, slide tackle, and backpedal but shoot and swivel, too.

This means playing the sport increases both your flexibility and range of motion.

By practising and playing regularly while doing the proper stretches, you'll get your body used to a wide range of different movements.

This will help you to not put as much stress on your body (as you're moving fluidly and in the correct way) and prevent you from injuring yourself.

7. Reduces Your Likelihood of Injury 

Soccer is a physically demanding sport and players do get injured.

But because it strengthens your body and increases your flexibility, it'll only help you in the long run.

Playing soccer regularly will not only help reduce the likelihood that you suffer from cardiovascular disease but also help prevent injury.

This also depends on how you treat your body - if you're eating and drinking healthily, stretching, warming up, and playing correctly.

Now that we've seen some of the physical benefits of playing soccer, let's move on to the oft-overlooked emotional benefits that the beautiful game brings.

Two kids running after the ball during soccer practice

Emotional Benefits of Playing Soccer

On top of all of the physical benefits that playing soccer brings, there’s a whole host of emotional ones, too.

In addition to releasing endorphins that improve your mood and happiness, exercising and playing soccer regularly also reduces stress and boosts both players' self-confidence and self-esteem.

Here are some of the emotional benefits you can expect to see from playing soccer:

8. Improves Your Mood

As you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. They not only help relieve pain and stress but also improve your overall mood and make you feel good.

Studies also show that regularly exercising improves your general mental well-being over a longer period.

Soccer is therefore great for improving your mood through the natural rush that you get from exercising and releasing endorphins.

9. Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

A regular release of endorphins also helps reduce any feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression.

Exercise also stimulates the release of other chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin which play an important part in regulating people's moods.

This helps with both appetite and sleep cycles which again can cut down on anxiety and depression.

10. Boosts Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

Soccer can help improve players' self-confidence and self-esteem which are crucial for people's emotional well-being.

By setting goals, working hard to achieve them, and developing new skills and abilities, players gain confidence and increase their self-worth.

This is a very rewarding and empowering experience which will leave them feeling a lot better about themselves.

11.  Improves Social Skills

Soccer also allows players to work on their social skills.

Whether that’s teamwork and communication or sharing and supporting one another, soccer is great for teaching us a wide range of skills that’ll help us in life in general.

Being part of a team or group helps improve our self-esteem, reduces depression and anxiety, and helps us to develop greater empathy for other people.

12. Increases Empathy

As soccer is a team sport, players need to work together with their teammates if they’re to stand a chance of success.

This means not only supporting each other but motivating and caring about one another, too.

By working closely alongside other players, you not only further your understanding of them but about people in general.

Soccer therefore greatly enhances players' empathy as you see other people work hard, suffer defeats, and celebrate victories and can empathise both with their emotions and viewpoints.

13. Learn to Control Emotions

Playing soccer also helps you learn how to control your emotions better. This positively impacts your life both on and off the pitch.

Dealing with victories and defeats, successes, and disappointments are all part of playing a sport. So over time, you'll learn to better process and control these emotions.

This will see you act thoughtfully and carefully rather than impulsively and be more stable with your emotions.

14. Gives You Something to Look Forward To

Knowing that you have a soccer training session or match coming up can be great for your mental health as you know that you have something fun to look forward to with your friends.

It's a time for you to forget about your worries, it gives structure and meaning to your week, and it helps you refocus and refresh your mind.

Just playing for a couple of hours here and there will do wonders for your emotional well-being.

Closely related to both the physical and emotional benefits that soccer brings is the positive impact it can have on your mental well-being.

Let's take a look!

Soccer ball beside a blackboard with a strategy drawn on it with chalk

Mental Benefits of Playing Soccer

While playing soccer can do wonders for your strength, stamina, and self-esteem, it can also have a very positive effect on your mental health and well-being.

This varies from increasing your concentration skills, resilience, and mental strength to developing your gross motor skills and problem-solving abilities.

Here are just some of the mental benefits you can expect to see from playing soccer:

15. Increases Your Concentration and Focus

As players need to concentrate for the whole match and keep both their focus and attention on the ball and what’s going on, soccer is great for improving both concentration and focus.

If they get distracted or lose focus just for a moment, players are liable to get punished by not being in the right position or losing their opponent and letting in a goal.

Over time, players increase their concentration levels which helps both on the pitch and in life in general.

16. Develops Your Gross Motor Skills

By playing soccer regularly, you’ll improve your gross motor skills which see your brain and body coordinate and link up more successfully and precisely.

By working on your passing, shooting, and other elements of the game, you'll train your muscles and mind to work in sync as you familiarise yourself with and repeat the different movements of the sport.

Besides helping you get better as a player, this will also have a positive impact on other physical activities that you perform such as running, jumping, throwing, and catching.

17. Enhances Your Visual-Spatial Awareness and Information Processing

As players need to be able to judge how near or far something is on the pitch, playing soccer also helps enhance their visual-spatial awareness.

While scanning around them, players have to also be able to take in a large amount of information such as where the ball, the sidelines, their teammates, and opponents are.

As such, the sport helps them get used to processing large amounts of information that’s constantly changing as the match plays out.

18. Improves Analysis Skills and Problem Solving Abilities

While it’s all good taking in everything going on around them, players need to be able to react quickly and choose the best possible option as soon as possible.

This, therefore, develops both their analysis skills and problem-solving abilities as they respond to whatever new scenario comes their way.

Besides helping them make the most of their talents on the pitch, these skills and abilities are also very helpful in other walks of life such as at work, school, or university.

19. Increases Your Resilience and Mental Strength

As not every pass or shot will come off and not every team can win every game, players need to have great resilience to deal with the setbacks and defeats that come their way.

By building mental strength through your training sessions and matches, you’ll set yourself up for success both on and off the pitch.

As well as this, soccer also encourages players to learn new things and develop new skills and in doing so teaches them not to fear failure and accept that it takes hard work to achieve a goal.

20. Fuels Motivation, Desire, and Drive

Consequently, soccer helps to fuel players' motivation and drive as they work hard in each training session to become better players.

By instilling this desire in them to improve, soccer provides a roadmap for other areas of players' lives off the field too.

Seeing the hard work they put in on the training pitch turn into goals, points, and match-winning performances reinforces the belief that they can achieve whatever they want if they’re motivated and put in the effort.

21. Develops a Sense of Responsibility and Respect

As soccer is a team sport, players learn to help their teammates and support one another as best they can.

This not only develops their sense of responsibility but also enhances the respect they feel for others whether that be their coach and teammates or their opponents and even themselves.

Soccer, therefore, helps players to act maturely and responsibly, gain the respect of their peers, and learn how to compete with others fairly.

Soccer player resting his foot on the ball


While there are many benefits of playing soccer in regards to your physique and fitness, it also has loads of great benefits when it comes to your emotional and mental well-being.

For instance, besides developing your self-confidence and self-esteem, soccer can also help with your resilience, mental strength, and analytical and problem-solving skills.

In addition to this, it also helps with everything from your strength and stamina to your social skills, self-control, and sense of responsibility.

Simply by kicking a ball around with their friends and having fun, players can improve their physical, emotional, and mental well-being in many different ways.

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