Team Vs. Individual Sports: Here is What You Should Know About Their Impact On Mental Health

Have you ever felt extremely restless and agitated before an important game? We all know that feeling of fumbling at the goal line, losing control of the ball, or even tensing up so much that it seems impossible to succeed. Whether it is a team sport like soccer or volleyball or an individual one like gymnastics or boxing, chances are you might’ve felt under pressure before a tournament. 

The competitive nature of sports naturally causes each athlete to experience different emotions that have an impact on their own or teams’ performance. However, not all sports impact mental health in the same way. 

Screen Shot 2021-03-06 at 7.13.16 PM.png

In particular, a clear deviation between an athlete involved in team sports versus individual sports can be identified. While the two often both share the same benefits, this blog explores how their different circumstances influence an athlete’s mental health and psychology. 

A 2011 study conducted by the Department of Psychology, Sciences and Research Branch in Iran focused on exploring the different impacts of sports on the mental wellness of a sportsman. The research sample consisted of 400 randomly-selected athletes, of which 247 were individual and 153 were team players, who were subject to a psychological skills questionnaire. The findings show that there is a significant difference between individual and team sports in terms of psychological skills and motivation of athletic success: while team players are able to moderate stressful conditions thanks to the support of their peers, individual athletes may find it more difficult to overcome their anxieties.

Although all sports can provide alleviation for symptoms of mental health issues, this mechanism may be most effective through team sports because of their added social component. The most essential skill to team sports is communication – which will always be a key factor to success in a game. The fact that athletes in teams have to learn and refine their interactions and socialization skills leads to healthy relationships with adults and peers in their personal life. Likewise, feelings of comfort and acceptance thanks to the bonds formed in teams reduce insecurities and other emotional problems. In fact, the sense of support and community – a direct result of team sports – also plays an integral role in reducing depressive symptoms. 

Screen Shot 2021-03-06 at 7.20.01 PM.png

On the other hand, individual sports help cultivate other important psychological skills. Although these kinds of sports often provide less social opportunity, they encourage responsibility and self-reliance. Individual sport athletes may engage in a higher level of preparation because their success depends completely on their own skills and training. For example, when athletes practice alone, they can improve their ability to concentrate and mental strength. However, this increased sense of accountability can lead to intense feelings of shame or guilt after losing. As a result, individual athletes could be more likely to suffer from mental health problems because they may feel increased pressure to perform: the development of anxiety is common not only because of internalized failure, but also the tendency to set intense personal goals for themselves.

Both team and individual sports have shown to support mental health, but the weight of evidence suggests that participation in team sports may be more strongly linked to positive social outcomes when compared to individual sports. In brief, whereas team sports athletes can rely on the support of their teammates, individual sport athletes can only depend on their own preparation and skill level to achieve success.

Works Cited

"Benefits of Sports - MU Health Care." Accessed 14 Feb. 2021.

"Difference between Team and Individual Sports with Respect to ....",%201(11)1904-1909,%202011.pdf. Accessed 14 Feb. 2021.

 "Team Sport Athletes May Be Less Likely To Suffer Anxiety or ...." 1 Aug. 2019, Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

"Team Vs. Individual Sport: | G4 Athlete." Accessed 16 Feb. 2021.


Listen to Music and Improve Your Game


Quick, Easy Ways of Coping With Trash Talkers