Mental Health in Team Sports Compared to Individual Sports


Have you ever felt anxious and restless prior to the start of a crucial game? We’ve all experienced that feeling of falling over at the goal line or losing control of the ball or even tensing up too often that it’s impossible to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s an athletic team like volleyball or soccer, or an individual sport like boxing or gymnastics, it is likely that you’ve felt pressured prior to an event.

man in black t-shirt lying on couch

Most people start playing sports in their early years, it’s for enjoyment and to meet new people however, as they grow older, they begin to get comfortable with their sports. They begin to discover what is their best at and what they’re not. It could be that a sport they enjoy as an individual like track or wrestling is more appealing as opposed to a team sport such as football or volleyball. As they age they might find that it’s easier to compete on their own in comparison to other athletes, but how does this impact the mental health of an athlete and how can it differ between team sports and an individual athlete?

Sports are always thought of as a recreational thing to do but what happens do you think it’s actually creating stress for the people involved? Based on the findings of Pluhar (2019) “team” sports athletes experienced positive experiences from training, coaching, and peer support, which can contribute to feelings of social acceptance, reduced body dissatisfaction, and eventually fewer depression symptoms in adolescents (Pluhar 2019). Research suggests that those who play teams experience less depression or anxiety than individual sports athletes suffer. This could have something to do because, in an organized sport, you’ve got others to count on, and who can help you pick back up following a mishap, and those who play an individual sport have only their own. Individual sports athletes may need to master the art of navigating tough situations in their sport alone. However, this level of accountability could cause an intense feeling of guilt or shame following losing. Teams can be extremely difficult due to the dynamics of teams, competition, or coaching issues. But individuals’ sports can trigger greater self-awareness, including shame following failure, which can be related to depression-related symptoms (Pluhar 2019, 2019).

When a sportsperson is defeated, they think they’ve failed themself because they are the sole ones to be blamed for their loss. The guilt they feel can result in depression and can cause them to experience anxiety before they head out to compete next time. The pressure that individual sports athletes face is different from the pressure experienced by athletes in a group because the sport they play is an ensemble and the burden is equally distributed among all in the team because everyone has a responsibility to fill. Individual athletes are not subject to the same level of responsibility and guilt.

It doesn’t mean individuals who play sports should not feel proud of their achievements However, they must be proud of their achievements. When they achieve success, such as making a record or meeting a goal, for example, and share the achievement with the most people they can. If athletes train on their own they are able to increase their concentration and build mental strength. Although individual sports usually offer more social opportunities, however, they can also foster accountability and self-reliance (Pluhar 2019). Concentration and self-reliance are two of the areas that solo sportsmen have mastered more effectively than team sport athletes. In the absence of a team and in a crowded space, they must be able to be confident in their abilities and capabilities. Mental toughness and self-confidence are mental attributes that athletes require but individuals need more.

The nature of competitive sports naturally causes every athlete to experience a variety of emotions that can affect the team’s or their own performance. Yet, not all sports affect the mental health of an athlete in the same way.

Particularly, a distinct distinction between athletes who participate in team sports and individual sports is evident. Although both have the same benefits this blog focuses on how the various circumstances impact the mental health of athletes and mental health.

A study 2011 conducted in 2011 by researchers from the Department of Psychology, Sciences and Research Branch in Iran focused on the various effects of sports on the mental well-being of a person who plays sports. The study sample comprised 400 athletes selected randomly from which 247 were individual and 153 were group players who were surveyed on an assessment of their psychological abilities. The results show a distinct distinction between team and individual sports in the area of psychological abilities and motivations for performance in athletics. While team players can manage stress with the assistance of their teammates but individuals might have a harder time overcoming their fears.

Although any sport can offer relief from mental health problems This mechanism is most effective in group sports because of their social aspect. The most important skill for group sports will be communication which will always be the most important element to winning a game. The fact that players in teams are required to develop and develop their interactions and socialization skills can lead to good relationships with adults as well as others in their lives. Additionally, the feeling of security and acceptance due to the bonds that are formed by teams helps alleviate anxiety and other psychological issues. In reality, the feeling of belonging and support an outcome of playing in teams – play an important part in reducing depression symptoms.

However, individual sport helps develop various other crucial psychological abilities. While these types of sports typically provide more social interaction but they do encourage accountability in addition to confidence in oneself. Individual sports athletes might be more involved in higher levels of training because their performance depends entirely on their own capabilities and the training they receive. For instance that when athletes work out on their own they are able to enhance their ability to focus and improve their mental strength. However, this feeling of accountability could result in extreme feelings of guilt or shame following losing. In the end, athletes may be more likely to experience mental health issues because they are under greater pressure to perform. The increase in anxiety is not just due to internalized loss, but also because of the tendency to create intense personal goals.

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Both individual and team sports have proven to help mental health, however, the overwhelming evidence suggests that playing team sports is more likely to be associated with positive social outcomes when compared with individual sports. In essence, athletes in team sports can count on the help of their fellow athletes while individual athletes only rely on their personal training and ability for success.

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