The sports pyramid...

... helps develop not just fitness and strength but also build skills and character.

April 02, 2011 06:23 pm | Updated 06:23 pm IST

Some of us swear by the food pyramid, and we have seen that morph in the last few years to become somewhat more verticalised by food groups.

In my view, there is a sports pyramid that we must “taste and consume” to develop different skills and dimensions of character.

Skiing, river-rafting, rock-climbing and other adventure sport, at the apex, are critical for getting the adrenaline pumping and giving us a zest for life.

Building character

In addition, these hone critical aspects of character such as risk taking, quick thinking and response, overcoming fear, being careful when skirting danger and helping us avoid undue machoism, as Nature is an immense humbler of the ego.

These sports are akin to the oils, fats and sweets at the apex of the traditional food pyramid. One exposure can have a lasting impact on our psyche; no wonder that some leadership courses include an exposure to one of these experiences.

Cardio sports such as running, swimming and cycling are at the base of the pyramid — like the much-needed carbs in our diet — and are important for keeping us fit and in tune for any sport, competitive or otherwise.

I am sure we would all remember the first exposure to basketball or soccer or any other sport where the whole period was focused on running around the soccer field!

This is essential not just for warming up and for building speed and stamina; but also, as I realised quite by accident, to start building self confidence as you break barrier after barrier of distance or speed as you train smarter and regularly.

Ultimate pay-off

The ultimate pay-off of these individual carbohydrate sports is to get you feeling more optimistic and calmer, providing you the strength to face a variety of situations more appropriately.

Individual sports like golf and billiards are critical to hone our concentration skills.

Team skills

Team sports such as football, cricket, volleyball, kho kho, and kabaddi teach us team skills while honing individual competence as we play our roles and seek to exploit the strengths of our teammates. Sports such as table tennis and squash sharpen our anticipation and reflexes. Riding, hiking, rock-climbing and others get us to appreciate and learn a lot about trust and nature.

Ideal regimen

The ideal regimen would combine a mix of these activities. The minority in India can swim and have access to a pool, river, lake or the sea. Let us use these facilities. Let us cycle for some of our errands on the side streets, whenever possible, and see what we can do in our roles in the government, business, media or in our residential communities to create or fix a neighbourhood cycle-able track. All of us need to realise that the road is free, let's run and see how we can gradually, carb by carb, experience as much of the sports pyramid as possible because each exposure will change us subliminally, and forever way beyond any classroom within the four walls.

The author left a 25-year marketing career to set up a brand activation venture with running as the platform. Their goal is to get 200 million people running. More at

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