Participating in organized sports has been shown to improve health, fitness and academic performance in kids while also relieving stress and teaching important lessons like good sportsmanship, teamwork and perseverance. While sports in general are clearly great for kids, does it matter if your child plays a team or an individual sport? After all, we all know kids who are naturally drawn to individual sports like tennis, swimming or golf while others zero in on team sports like soccer, softball or basketball.
Learn the benefits and challenges of both types to help you and your kid better understand what it's like to participate in each.
The Benefits of Team Sports
Kids who play team sports show increased cooperation and teamwork and foster a sense of community. There's also a sense of shared responsibility for the outcome, which means that having a bad day isn't the end of the world. Teammates learn to support each other through good games and bad, something that might be most important during a losing streak.
Research shows that athletes have improved performance in a group, so playing team sports can encourage a child to give his or her best effort for their teammates.
The Benefits of Individual Sports
Individual sports foster mental strength, and kids who play show increased resilience. Kids learn to motivate themselves by working through challenging training sessions or dips in performance and results. After all, there's nobody else to hide behind on a bad day, so athletes learn to deal with poor results.
On the flip side, when an athlete wins in an individual sport, they have a strong sense of accomplishment. Beyond bragging rights, participating in individual sports can increase a sense of personal mastery. Athletes improve and develop new skills, leading to improved performance and confidence.
Individual sports also allow for independence and can be a great fit for a kid who doesn't like to rely on someone else's skills to perform well.
Some individual sports allow flexibility with training times and regimens. Athletes can focus on their own training needs, whether that means addressing a personal weakness or improving a favorite shot–something that can be difficult during team training.