Physical activity is widely known to have a positive mental and physical impact on our lives. We even wrote about it in a previous blog post that you can check out here. But what benefits are brought about by team sports? Many of us grew up playing on teams in middle school or high school and then started to lose that outlet once we got into college or the workforce. Team sports help us build social connections, improve physical fitness, and can even have significant impacts on our mental health.
Compared to people that participated in individual sports, those who played team sports
reported having less anxiety (Pluhar, et al., 2019). Individual sport athletes also reported playing more for goal-oriented reasons rather than just for pure fun (Pluhar, et al., 2019). Individual sports can be highly beneficial because they can help build self-discipline, the ability to concentrate, and exercise greater mental strength and accountability (Pluhar, et al., 2019). As a result, though, there can also be more internal stresses and shame after failure because there is no external source to blame -- leading to the higher rates of anxiety than those that play team sports (Pluhar, et al., 2019).
Playing on team sports also has significant impacts on our psyche. Playing team sports has been shown to reduce feelings of depression, hopelessness, drug use, and tobacco use (Pluhar, et al., 2019). Organized sports are strongly tied to adolescent mental health and are more effective than other forms of exercise as well (Pluhar, et al., 2019). Non-athletes are 10-20% more likely to suffer from mental health issues which further inhances the importance of participating in sport (Pluhar, et al., 2019). Playing sports also has a positive impact on cognitive performance (Beadleston, et al., 2019). In addition to the mental health and performance benefits, participating in team sports also helps build leadership qualities and can enhance your ability to manage, relate, and communicate. Leadership qualities like instructing, supporting, and seeking input from team members were found to have lasting impacts and helped build the best connections within the team (Crozier, Loughead, & Munroe-Chandler, 2013).
These positive impacts of team sports don’t stop when we leave school though. Some companies have begun to encourage recreational sport teams within each department and it has had a huge impact on the happiness and cohesion of the employees (Joubert & De Beer, 2011). Playing sports together increased trust, effectiveness, togetherness, and fostered stronger relationships between employees (Joubert & De Beer, 2011).
So, to sum it up, find a recreational league for a sport you enjoy and sign up! It can help get you in shape, create meaningful friendships and relationships, reduce anxiety and depression, and help your cognitive functioning. Individual sports are great too, but be sure not to put too much pressure on yourself and sign up because you enjoy the sport itself to avoid excess anxiety in your life. Any community based exercise is awesome and can give you these same benefits so make sure to check out some of our group classes as well.
Want some help getting started? We have some great dance fitness classes where you can join and dance along with others in the community. We also have some group fitness and wellness classes where you can build relationships while working on self-improvement. Make sure to check out all of our services or stop by our offices to get started on your own health journey!
Beadleston, L. N., O'Donnell, A. T., McMahon, J., McMahon, G., Kinsella, E. L., Kearns, M., . . . Muldoon, O. T. (2019). Working Hard and Playing Hard: Multiple Group Membership, Exercise and Cognitive Performance in Boys and Girls. Social Psychology of Education, 501-515.
Crozier, A. J., Loughead, T. M., & Munroe-Chandler, K. J. (2013). Examining the Benefits of Athlete Leaders in Sport. Journal of Sport Behavior, 346.
Joubert, Y. T., & De Beer, J. J. (2011). Benefits of Team Sport for Organisations. South African Journal of Research in Sport, Physical Education & Recreation, 59.
Pluhar, E., McCracken, C., Griffith, K. L., Christino, M. A., Dai, S., & Meehan, W. (2019). Team Sport Athletes May Be Less Likely To Suffer Anxiety or Depression than Individual Sport Athletes. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 490-496.