Team sports are essential for more than just the physical benefits gained from participating. Exercise is always critical at any age, but what about the mental and social benefits gained in team sports? Studies on team sports have shown that athletes tend to have higher graduation rates than non-athletes and also tend to be more emotionally stable and able to calm themselves down faster than non-athletes.
Team sport athletes have a rotating door of new participants and must acclimate themselves regularly. Whether you’re participating on a high school, college, or professional team, there is a constant annual influx of new players. Seniors graduate high school, which forces newer players on to the team. In professional sports like Major League Baseball, contracts expire, and players change teams regularly. It’s gotten to the point in professional sports that a player rarely starts and ends their career with the same team.
The “softer skills” you develop from team sports are as necessary as physical benefits.
7 Benefits of Playing Team Sports
Team sports help you work well with others and promote teamwork. Coordinating with other team members in sports is a skill that will certainly help you later in life with business, family, and other relationships. Teamwork means working together, coming up with a plan, and executing that plan as a cohesive unit. If one person is not pulling their weight or not implementing the plan, then as a group, you will fail. In sports, that means a win. In business, that could mean closing a big deal.
Remember the saying, “play nice in the sandbox” or “play well with others”? In sports and life, you must be able to play and work well with others. Teamwork is necessary to win a sports championship, to complete a project at work, and to raise a family. If you’ve ever heard a press conference after the Super Bowl, you rarely hear the winning quarterback say, “luckily for the team, I was great today like I always am.” Instead, they talk about how great this team has been all year and how they came together as a unit.
Teaching your children the importance of teamwork will significantly increase their chances of success, and there is no better place to learn teamwork than in team sports.
READ Teamwork Takes Work: 7 Ways to Play Nice With Others
When you are part of a team as an athlete, time can be a challenge. There are practices and games to attend, as well as time spent on personal conditioning and recovery. As a student, you need to couple time spent on sports with your academic obligations. If you don’t learn how to manage your time effectively between the two, one area will suffer.
Time management is a necessity for athletes. Every minute counts and those that practice sound time management fundamentals will reach their goals.
Communication skills are essential in team sports and life. A team that can communicate effectively will win. Communication isn’t always verbal. Your coach doesn’t have to tell you directly that he/she is upset with your performance. You know it based on non-verbal communication, mannerisms, and demeanor. Successful team players ask for feedback. This goes for sports or in your career.
Ability to deal with pressure
In sports, you need to act quickly and make split-second decisions. Decisions that could prove to be a win or a loss. These split-second decisions come with a tremendous amount of pressure. How you react to that pressure and stress can make or break you. Can you make difficult decisions under pressure? The ability to handle pressure on the field translates to making those same types of decisions in life. Making a critical deadline at work or closing a high-value deal for a new customer.
There are individual players in sports who want to be at bat or on the free-throw lane with a chance to win the game. Are you that player?
Playing team sports help to build respect for both authority figures like umpires and referees as well as other players and following directions. Team players who don’t respect authority tend to bring down the rest of the team. This respect for authority doesn’t just apply to your children; it applies to adults as well. Even though we are adults, we still need to respect those in charge like our boss or immediate manager.
Playing team sports also helps build respect for teammates and your competitors. As a fan of the NY Yankees, I was raised to despise the Boston Red Sox. As a fan of the sport of baseball, though, I respect their level of play and commitment. The same can be said in business. As a salesperson, I can appreciate and respect a colleague on my team who hustles and beats me in a sales contest.
A lesson that team sports teach is sportsmanship. Sports show us that we have to be gracious in winning and losing. There is nothing worse than seeing a display of poor sportsmanship by a losing player. A player who storms off, yelling and screaming after a press conference.
The same can be said for an obnoxious winner. One of the most infuriating parts of professional football for me is the touchdown celebration. I understand the level of excitement of scoring, but we don’t need a choreographed routine every time points are scored. You haven’t cured cancer; you scored a touchdown.
Sportsmanship and how you deal with losses carry over into your personal and business life often. A loss is a loss, and how you rebound is most important. What did you learn from your loss to help you win next time? Ask yourself this question instead of throwing a tantrum.
One sport that takes sportsmanship to a different level is the National Hockey League or NHL. At the conclusion of their championship, The Stanley Cup, the players line up at center ice to shake hands. These same players have been beating the hell out of each other for multiple games, but tradition dictates they shake hands as a show of respect and sportsmanship. It is a powerful gesture that all sports should adopt.
Team sports build a sense of community both for the players, the fans, and if you have children participating, the parents. Players find community in their coaches and teammates and develop a sense of belonging that helps to build self-esteem. For the fans team, sports build a whole different type of community. This can be seen in any baseball or football town across the country. Sunday football sees fans wearing their favorite teams’ jersey while they gather in bars or at friends’ homes to watch the game.
And finally, there is a community for the parents of children participating in team sports. Visit any local soccer or football game on the weekend, and you will see groups of parents cheering on their children’s teams. The relationships from these games eventually develop off the filed as well, and you find yourself gathering on non-game days for barbeques and get-togethers.
Sports have a way of bringing people together and creating a community between people of all races and nationalities. It’s great to witness, and my dream would be to have this community outside of sports more often.
The benefits of team sports go way beyond the physical aspects. Team sports teach valuable life lessons like sportsmanship, respect, and community both on and off the field. Do you or your children play any team sports? If so, how do you feel it has provided benefits? Comment below.
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I can totally agree with this post. I am sad that it is not mandatory in school that young people have to be on some kind of team. It would get them ready for the real world. Almost every job I have had had a team vibe to it. Respect and time management are kinda hard to teach once you have left your parents’ house. I am seeing this more often in the age of cell phones and youtube.
I haven’t played team sports since I was at school and it’s something I’ve been meaning to get back into. Joining a sports team would be a great way to meet new people, especially if you’ve moved to a new area. It’s also good motivation to exercise without it feeling like a chore.
I played ultimate club frisbee in college. It was fun and was a great chance to make friends and be social while trying to achieve our goals and play together
Agree so much. Add to that those who have been involved in team sports tend to be more successful in their career due to their better adaptability while working in a team and being able to lead well.
It definitely helps in both career and personal life.
These are really good points. There can be so much pressure, so learning to handle this and good communications skills are a fab tool learned from team sports xx
Yes! It is so true that these kinds of skills are often even more important than the actual physical part of team sports. There are many types of solitary activities one can do to get their exercise in but team sports are so beneficial to many other aspects of life! From childhood all the way up to being an adult the lessons we learn from participating in team sports are so important in day to day life! Great post!
Thanks Lindsay for the comment. As an older fellow it hurts more to play sports these days. ?
These are really good points. I just realised that I have been an expert in working as part of a team since high school. You learn alot about from everything you do. Team sports are a fun way to do it.
As someone who did not play team sports, I am able to experience the benefits through seeing my children participate in team sports. All of your points were spot on but I especially appreciated the Community aspect. Sports provide an outlet to connect with like minded children and families all working together.
Thanks for the comment Jennifer!
Those are really important features anyone can learn to get through life. I don’t have kids yet but I totally support sending them to do a teamsport. That way they will learn so many valuable things as well as keep active and away from the tv or phone.
The cellphone will be the death of us all.
Late comment here, but I came across it while doing some personal research. I did NOT participate in team sports when I was young; my family lived too far out of town and quite frankly, were biased against sports in general. In 6th grade, one other boy and I were the only ones to not be on the football team, and we were definitely the “outliers.” In Jr. High I was briefly on the Track team until sidelined by Osgood Schlatter’s disease. I never played any after that. I did find other outlets-Band, Art and garage rock groups, but I can’t help but wonder if my life might have been different in some ways (assertiveness, career advancement, self-confidence, etc.) had I been involved.
I understand completely your assertion that the older you get the more it hurts. I recently took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (at 53). I have yet to see how that will ultimately turn out haha
Recovery is so much harder the older you get. Thanks for the comment.