If your childhood was anything like mine you might have put thousands of hours into your Playstation, X-Box or PC playing some of the most popular releases over the last decade being told by your family and other half that you’re wasting your time. However, did you know that all those hours you have banked can actually lead to an improved performance in sport? Of course you did…
According to a study published in the journal Communication Research, playing just 20 minutes of video games can allegedly improve your hand-eye coordination. That’s right, Researches had 151 colleague students spend 20 minutes playing video games and 99 percent more were able to utilise the skills boost they obtained from gameplay helped them in a subsequent lab controlled hand-eye coordination test.
Further research has continued to prove that there are various benefits to playing video games. These include cognitive benefits, such as improved reaction time, improved mental flexibility, and improved spatial abilities, as well as other types of benefits, such as reduced stress levels, increased self-esteem, and increased prosocial behaviour.
First, let’s consider the cognitive benefits:
- It is believed that video games can improve your recognition ability and special memory. They can improve your reaction time, without decreasing accuracy.
- Playing first-person shooters can improve your mental flexibility which will make you better at adapting to change.
- Games can also improve your visual processing ability which can make you better at identifying important information and ignoring irrelevant distractions.
Now let’s consider the general benefits of playing video games:
- Nervous about an upcoming match or can’t find a way to wind down after a training session? Playing video games can help you relax and reduce your stress levels.
- They can also increase your self-esteem and improve your mood. Plus the more competent you feel at the game, the more you’ll benefit in this regard. This is a great way to give yourself a quick confidence boost.
- Playing video games that involve cooperating with other players can increase people’s prosocial behaviour in real life. So, if you like to play PlayerUnknown’s Battleground or Fortnite with your friends then you’ll be able to develop your communication skills that you can use on the pitch and improve interpersonal relationships with your teammates.
- A lot of us suffer with anxiety be it on or off the pitch and there’s no shame in that. If this affects you it’s time to smile as it is widely believed that playing therapeutic video games can improve mental-health outcomes in various ways by engaging your brain in relaxing tasks to help you overcome feelings of unease. Such games as The Sims 4 or Animal Crossing would be perfect for this.
- Lastly, playing certain video games can improve physical-health outcomes in various ways, such as by encouraging people to exercise or by educating people about health-related topics. So, if you can’t make it to training or don’t have time to go for that mid-week gym session, try your hand at such physical games as Just Dance or my personal favourite, Beat Sabre. Both of these games are great at getting you to move and help work off those pesky carbs.
There you have it. A brief look at how playing video games can help you on the Rugby pitch. Before I go, please note that gaming is no real replacement for actual exercise. You’ll still need to make an effort to attend as many training sessions and take part in additional physical exercise (whatever form that may take is down to you). So be smart, play safe… and most importantly, enjoy yourself.
And now a warning…
Please take the information you read here today as alleged and shouldn’t be taken strictly as fact. Sure, it may win you some extra few minutes on the console in an argument with your better half but please remember that playing video games uninterrupted for long periods of time can lead to many hours lost, late nights, eye strain and arguments. So, just like any form of exercise, take it easy, have fun and if you ever feel uncomfortable doing it, take a break and get plenty of sleep. Oh, and stay hydrated too!