The benefits of team sports.

Written by Natalie Doyle

January 10, 2023

A group of children football players crowd around their female coach

I’ve been having a few conversations recently with people who are either considering getting involved in a new sport themselves or have children who are looking at joining a new sports club.  Usually, these people look at the obvious health benefits of being physically active but, for me, the best things that people get out of sport are outside of the health benefits. I thought I’d use this week’s blog post to look at these in more detail, focusing on team sports, which are commonly the sports where women and girls are most under-represented.  Here are the biggest benefits for me:

1. Learning to win and lose. Sport inevitably involves some sort of competition.  Learning to win and lose is an essential skill for life.  I see it in my children when we’re playing board games or computer games.  Learning to win and lose graciously is a tough lesson to learn!  Learning this whilst being surrounded by friends and teammates is a fantastic way of developing such an important skill, which will then become invaluable when dealing with the ups and downs of life.

2. Building confidence. Although sport can take some people out of their comfort zone, it is also a great way to build confidence.  Feeling you have had a positive impact on a match, scoring a goal, or making a tackle, is a great way to build confidence.  This doesn’t just apply to children, but also to women.  On the Sport Sister Podcast episode with Carol Bates and Andrea Ellis, they talked extensively about the positive impact that women’s recreational football had on the women taking part in their sessions.  The confidence developed through sport can then have a hugely positive impact on other areas of participants’ lives.

3. Communication skills.  Sport can provide an excellent opportunity to develop communication skills, both on and off the pitch, court, or wherever you’re playing!  Communicating during matches with your teammates, and communicating outside of the match with coaches and teammates are valuable skills with participants learning how to communicate clearly, understanding their audience, and being succinct.  Add in the way you communicate with match officials and spectators and you see the added value of respect being developed. 

4. Being part of a team.  Women and girls especially seek a sense of belonging in their hobbies.  Being part of something, a team, helps people to feel safe in their surroundings.  Team sports often have a social side to them as well, which helps to build that sense of belonging and community.

5. Enjoyment. Of course, enjoyment is the number one motivator.  No-one wants to take part in anything if they don’t enjoy it.   When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, and these trigger a positive feeling in the body.  Combine this with the enjoyment of celebrating a goal with your teammates and supporters and now you’re really starting to enjoy yourself!

I could go on about the benefits of taking part in team sports, but these are my favourites.  This doesn’t just apply to children, and can actually be even more important for adults who often have less spare time available and want to make the best use of their free time.  Obviously individual sports can also offer fantastic benefits, but for me, you can’t beat being part of a team and the skills and experiences you get from that.

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