Fitness has taken on a life of its own in the last few years, and it is owed to more than the benefits of team sports. The combination of athletic exploits and the fashion that comes along with it has made the notion of getting a good workout much more popular.
Gyms are everywhere. YouTube channels focusing on fitness and health are starting up at a rate that feels almost daily at this point. Adding on to that is the sheer number of publications that are dedicating time to talking about exercise in new and fascinating ways.
In fact, the current popularity of exercise is starting to remind us of the Jazzercise movement of the 1980s. Though most of us would shudder at the thought of neon leotards, gyms are flooded with new members. This has resulted in a fitness industry that is booming year-on-year at the moment. However, the gym may not always be for you.
Overcoming that Gym Loneliness
Let’s be honest here, that’s more than understandable. There is, of course, the intimidation factor of just going to the gym. Then, once you get there, it can often be a lonely slog that feels isolating. Finally, once you’re done, it’s possible that it’s going to be even harder to get back in there because of that lonely feeling.
All of this can be incredibly frustrating, resulting in a knock on your confidence and sense of self-worth. This is where the benefits of team sports come in. Team sports are, by many objective measures, the best way to overcome the fear of getting involved in physical activity. Considering this, it’s no surprise that one of the most crucial aspects of any community is the availability of team-oriented sports activities.
So, we are now led in a direction of questions that is quite natural, including: what does this mean for me? Well, there’s a simple answer to that. The benefits of team sports aren’t just about positives for the collective. On the contrary, most of the good that comes from playing a team sport is something you feel individually as well!
Team Sports: bound to make you feel better
Whether it’s the extra exercise or the fun that comes from engaging in team-oriented activities, the benefits of team sports boil down into a simple concept. You’re likely to just feel better, which is going to make it much easier to get out of bed the next day – or a few days after, we all need different amounts of rest, no shame in that – and get back to it!
And that is the overarching theme of team sports. They have the capacity to help you feel much better than those lonely hours in the gym. This will help you feel better about yourself and boost your self-confidence in new ways.
We wanted to put together a handy post about some of the specific benefits of team sports and how they fit in your own life. Read on to see why getting involved in a team-oriented sport could be the best way to lead a healthier life.
What are the Real Benefits of Playing Team Sports?
Let’s jump right in, shall we? Here are some of the most important benefits of playing team sports.
If we’re being honest, one of the most daunting challenges of the gym is the concept of having to simply get strong. For many people, it isn’t so much the process in itself as it is about constantly pushing more or running longer on the treadmill while feeling as though you’re being judged. Frankly, who can blame you for getting a bit intimidated?
There aren’t many gyms in the world where you won’t run into incredibly strong people who seem to be outdoing everyone in their vicinity. Consequently, you can feel insignificant and less motivated to improve your own performance. In contrast, one of the biggest benefits of team sports is how motivated it can make you strive to get better at whatever sport you’re playing.
Sports like basketball, soccer, and football depend on teamwork and support from teammates in order to do well. When you share a common goal with a team of, say, five other people, you’re more likely to want to improve and work harder. This happens because sharing that goal often means everyone is equally invested in performing well. Additionally, your own individual performance is something your teammates are invested in (and vice versa), which leads to the higher likelihood of a positive and supportive atmosphere.
Choice of activities
Walk into any gym on the planet, and you’re likely to see the same equipment no matter what. You might see some free-weights, some bars, a few pulley machines and a treadmill or two. This is a sort of cookie-cutter formula that gyms have adopted as a way to cater to a wider set of members. Unfortunately, it can also become painfully boring.
The problem with having this consistent set of equipment is that you lose out on variety. It’s become a matter of common knowledge at this point that our brains need variety and change in order to grow. In fact, the number of times that you help your brain build new neuron pathways (AKA do new things) has a strong connection with overall brain health.
In light of that, variety and choice are one of the key benefits of team sports. Basketball, soccer, football, baseball, cricket, volleyball, hockey, the list goes on and on. You can even do something as simple joining a running or jogging group that regularly meets. Being able to switch things up, going from activity to activity, fires up your brain for the constant adjustments. This allows you to help your brain health in both the long and short term. And, of course, it’s also less likely that you’ll get bored by it all.
Better quality of life
That really seems like quite the claim doesn’t it? Stay with us on this one because the science backs it up. A crucial benefit of team sports is its ability to help you lead a better and more satisfying life. The reasoning behind this is simpler than you might be imagining. It has less to do with any biological or chemical workings than social ones.
Team sports are a great way to meet new people and interact with them more often. In the best way possible, team sports often require that you communicate with other people in order to derive any benefit at all. Of course, this sounds like a no-brainer when it comes to any sport. But, the benefits aren’t to be underestimated. According to a study from the London School of Economics and Political Science, it turns out that your individual benefit is directly connected with the benefit to your team.
When involved in a team sport, you are investing time and energy into a common goal (as we stated above). The result of that is that each great performance feels much better as a collective than it would if you were on your own. Through a combination of praise, acknowledgement, and support, your achievements just feel like you’ve done more as part of a collective.
This leads to a better sense of satisfaction with yourself and your own life. Moreover, the benefits of team sports in this regard don’t just pertain to when times are good. Even in losses, you’re more likely to get over a loss as part of a team that supports each other than you are when you take that loss on your own.
Like we said before, the gym can get monotonous and dreadfully boring, which can make it fairly difficult to keep going back every day. And yet, that’s not the only thing holding you back from sticking to your training routine. On a near constant basis, we’re bombarded with all sorts of reasons not to hit the gym this week or to skip the workout this one time.
Many people often feel as though they’re just not physically up to it on a particular day, feel spent from a long commute to and from work, or are discouraged by a lack of visible progress. This is where yet another one of the best benefits of team sports comes in: other people to hold you accountable.
This is one of those positives that simply cannot be overstated. Playing on a team of people who, again, share the same goals as you when you’re playing, makes it easier to get yourself out of the house and off to training.
That investment that we talked about is important because everyone else will feel the same sense of accountability. In most team sports, a lack of participation or training by one participant tends to damage the performance and even morale of the team as a collective.
As such, it’s no wonder why each member of the team serves as a source of often friendly accountability. Playing on a team even serves as a kind iteration of peer pressure, which in this case is just another way of saying you’re more encouraged because you’d rather not let your team down. Now, it’s worth noting that this won’t always be the case. Sometimes, you’ll just be dealing with family responsibilities or a project at work or school needs more of your attention.
You could even just be recovering from an injury. These would all take priority over a game or training session, which is understandable. Still, an underrated part of being on a team is knowing that you’ve got other people depending on your participation, which makes you feel both important and confident.
Benefits of Team Sports for Youth
Whether you’re a parent, an educator, or an activist, the benefits of participating in team sports kids are useful to keep in mind. One of the more consistent news stories for the last few years has been a rise in obesity and chronic conditions in several countries around the world. A lot of these reports have sighted a lack of activity among the younger members of the population.
In light of that, here are some of the most crucial benefits of team sports for kids and adolescents.
Increased academic performance
If you’ve ever had to struggle with kids playing too many video games or just getting too much screen-time in general, this one is definitely for you. The problem so many parents face is that any alternative that kids would opt for often doesn’t come with any tangible benefits. Then, when they find something that could help their kids develop, it’s difficult to get them into it.
Team sports help to competently fill that gap, bringing in the specific benefit of increased academic performance. It’s one of the best benefits of team sports for kids and occurs rather intuitively as well. Consider some of the things you need to be successful in any team sports: pattern recognition, memorization, comprehension, and even some critical thinking. These are all fundamentally beneficial in the classroom just as much as they are while playing the sport!
In this way, not only does participation in team sports help the academic development of kids, but goes slightly beyond that. Those same characteristics we mentioned also come in handy when, for example, applying for a job or doing well in that job.
The character traits that team sports require from kids are essentially positive indicators for success in any other field. In this way, team sports offer up a way to strengthen both the academic and career-minded acumen of kids from an early age.
This is one of those aspects of team sports that isn’t appreciated nearly enough. Any parent will tell you that one of the most challenging aspects of raising kids is teaching them respect figures in authority. We’re not just talking respecting parents, but acknowledging and respecting people such as teachers, police officers, public figures, etc.
It becomes difficult, per many parents, to simply make this respect a matter of habit. Yet another benefit of team sports is to act as an alternative means to learn respect via practice. The way this happens largely has to do with how many team sports are structured.
Teams often operate under the leadership of a coach. The coach is more than just an emotional leader, they are also the directors of what the team does both on an individual level and as a collective. Consequently, having to deal with a coach’s often demanding ways can be an incredibly beneficial element to developing a respect for authority.
Interestingly, the coach-player relationship incentivises this sort of development. When kids play sports, they are at least partly encouraged and motivated by the prospect of winning. This goal is difficult to reach if there isn’t a cohesion with the coach, so the team is further encouraged to make sure they give the coach their due respect and attention.
Developing Time-Management Skills
As kids grow up, it becomes increasingly important to be adept at managing their own time. When they’re younger and have parents following them around, there’s less of their own time they have to manage. However, that changes at a relatively rapid pace. Their days get flooded with things like schoolwork, family time, extracurricular classes, and sports activities.
As a result, it becomes a bit more important to get a grip on how to balance all of those dimensions. This another area where the benefits of team sports happen to cover. The lives of children are only getting busier by the day. Parents are, understandably, increasingly trying harder to get their kids involved in a number of activities.
The logic here, of course, is to help them gain skills for their futures and to help them stand out when it comes to something like college applications. Being a regular participant in a team sport helps foster the skills necessary to keep all of this in check.
Essentially, what it all boils down to are two things. First, having that extra element – say, volleyball practice – adds an engaging part of a kids day that requires them to make time. In the process of doing so, kids will be more encouraged to make sure they have their proverbial ducks in a row – taking care of assignments, cleaning their rooms, going to their extracurricular classes, etc – so that they can get to practice.
Secondly, most team sports involve being mentally organized enough to deal with the stress of an expiring game clock. Though it isn’t particularly obvious, having to make the most out of little slots of time within a competitive game can make it easier for kids to block out periods of their day to get things done in an organized fashion.
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Why is Teamwork Important in Sports?
We can always wrap this up by hitting with an age-old saying: “there’s no ‘i’ in TEAM.” However true that may be, the benefits of teamwork go well beyond that. First, let’s talk about why it’s important in sporting activities in general.
For any team-oriented sport, the main goal is to finish the game/ match with a positive result – AKA a win. In order to do this, there needs to be a tangible sense of unity. Like we said before, it’s one of the many benefits of team sports that each individual participant shares the same goals with their teammates. However, this doesn’t always guarantee team unity in and of itself.
For example, as a basketball player, you could be convinced that you are the only person who can make sure the whole team wins. What’s interesting is that it’s not hard to convince one’s self that this is good for the team because (in your mind) it results in a win, which is good for everyone, right?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Team sports require participation from everyone for the smoothest result. On the flip side, most team sports have a consequence for a lack of teamwork built in. Namely, when a team isn’t cohesive or is too selfish, it will normally affect the atmosphere and result in a negative outcome.
The real importance of teamwork
Beyond the sport, however, teamwork is important as one of the benefits of team sports because of its effect on its participants. Just as there are consequences for selfishness in team sports, there are also major rewards for opting to work as a collective.
When you put the team over yourself during a game/ match, it often results in more trust and appreciation from your teammates to you. What it also does is encourage others on the team to do the same. Seeing you receive that encouragement directly incentivises everyone else to get in on the good spirit of teamwork.
Moreover, teamwork even makes tough losses easier. When you play together as a team, it’s more likely that every individual has felt involved and had fun in the process. This makes taking any loss much easier and further encourages good sportsmanship.
Taking that to the real world, that rewarding feeling that comes from working as a team helps to make it a habit. In this way, an appreciation for teamwork finds its way into your classroom, work, and even your personal life. There is nearly no job on the planet that won’t look at teamwork as an essential “soft skill” for prospective employees.
Considering the vast amount of benefits of team sports, it’ll give you that extra incentive to get out there and get playing!
Image Credits: Unsplash