Importance of Team Sports
By Circle Editorial Team
The past two years have seen us flock to solitary sport and/or exercises en masse as our main avenue of building our fitness levels and reducing stress. The likes of running, cycling, yoga, and Tabata have all seen their popularity rise as we adjusted to the Safe Management Measures.
While these activities are definitely great in their own rights, there are just some elements of growth that cannot be provided by training in solitude. Enter team-based sports, a crucial contributor to one’s social and mental wellbeing. The importance of team-based sports should not be understated, and we are glad to have some of them return in one way or another.
Sports is a good way to help individuals tick multiple boxes on their checklists for personal growth, and team sports are no exception. The training required to get good at that sport builds competence, and from there, confidence and character. At the heart of this is self-esteem – an increased sense of self as a result of better social interactions, stronger relationships, and higher academic performance.
But these aren’t all that team sports are good for. Soft skills are personal attributes that allow people to build positive social relationships. Team sports are an excellent source of soft skills development, as they allow athletes to grow within a supportive environment. Here are just a few of the soft skills fostered through team sports:
Teamwork comes as a given when participating in team sports, but the effects aren’t immediately obvious. Teamwork is all about collaborating with others to reach a common goal. In the context of sports, it is usually defined as a victory over the opponent(s), whether it be for one match or for the entire season/tournament.
Each team is bound to consist of a wide variety of personality types. While some may complement each other well, some require a bit of effort to gel. This microcosm of society can help participants to learn how to manage the quirks of different personality types. Likewise, each team member has his/her unique assortment of strengths. Being on a team with a dozen or more of your peers is an excellent way to recognize the individual talents each person brings to the table.
Working in a team requires one to make holistic decisions that prioritize the benefits of the team. For example, a striker may be bearing down on the opposition goal, with a decent chance to score and enjoy the subsequent adulation. However, a teammate may be better positioned to convert that goal. It is the recognizing and picking of the optimal choice that trains the individual to think in the best interests of the team instead of his/her own.
Communication in sports can come in both verbal and non-verbal forms. When on the pitch, the frantic and noisy nature of the game can make verbal communication ineffective. Thus, players will have to learn to pick up on their teammates’ non-verbal cues.
Verbal communication is just as important to the functioning of a sports team too, and it is two-way traffic here. Players will have to pay attention during locker room pep talks or post-game debriefs.
Learning to communicate properly is also instrumental to the expression of one’s opinions. It could be supporting the proposed game plan, expressing acknowledgement, or indicating disagreement with the topic being discussed.
It is common in team sports for athletes to disagree with their coaches over the lineup, playing time, roles, etc. There are only so many positions that can be fielded at any one time, after all. However, there is a big difference between disagreeing with the coaches and denigrating the coaches. Players will learn quickly in team sport that, while it is okay not to agree with all the coaches’ decisions, it is not ok to throw a hissy fit and totally bash the coach when things don’t go their way.
Respect in team sports also extends to within teammates, and it is expected to be mutual. As explained by the Janssen Sports Leadership Centre, teammates don’t let teammates belittle each other or let each other down. A strong and cohesive team constructively deals with the natural and inevitable conflicts between teammates with honesty, compassion, and respect.
There is such respect and reverence for fellow teammates that they play for each other, not just for themselves. There is a common understanding and bond that teammates will battle tirelessly out of respect for the brother/sisterhood that has developed. While losses hurt tremendously, the even greater pain is in the thought of letting your teammates down. This will also drive one to not cut corners during training.
Team sports also provide wondrous effects for the community. Some of the benefits are listed below:
- Brings people together, providing opportunities for social interaction.
- Contributes to social capital.
- Creates positive alternatives to youth offending, antisocial behaviour and crime.
- Creates opportunities for, and promotes, volunteering.
- Helps to sustain the environment by protecting open space and natural areas.
- Sport and recreation clubs are the hub of community life.
- Binds families and communities through shared experiences.
- Helps shape our national character and pride.
- Provides a sense of belonging.
- Fosters community pride.
- Galvanises communities in times of need.
- Economic growth through business investment, employment, major events and tourism.
- Great opportunities for networking.
Communities that participate in sport and recreation develop strong social bonds, with abundant opportunities for networking and social outreach. As the hub of community life, team sports build stronger, healthier, happier, safer, and more connected communities.
Participating in team sports provides fantastic social and communal benefits, on top of the physical and health perks that come with training and exercise. Most importantly, the life skills picked up through these activities last and can carry over off the pitch. Don’t let this amazing opportunity for family bonding pass!