Team vs. Individual Sports: Impact on Children’s Mental Health

Children playing team and individual sports, showcasing the difference in mental health outcomes.

Participating in sports can undoubtedly boost physical and mental well-being. But, does the type of sport – team-based or individual – have differing impacts on the mental health of children? Dive into the enlightening findings from a recent study by California State University.

Read more: Team vs. Individual Sports: Impact on Children’s Mental Health

The Undeniable Health Benefits of Sports

Engaging in sports has always been championed for its myriad benefits, not only for physical health but significantly for our mental well-being. The list of scientific studies endorsing these merits is seemingly endless. However, let’s narrow down our focus: the comparison between team sports like Soccer, Basketball, and Hockey, versus individual sports such as Tennis, Gymnastics, or Golf.

Matt Hofmann’s Groundbreaking Research

Matt Hofmann and his team at California State University embarked on an exhaustive study to analyze the mental health outcomes of children involved in individual and team sports. Past research suggested that youth involvement in organized sports could stave off psychological issues. Yet, as with many scientific theories, there were contradicting viewpoints.

In-depth Analysis: The Study’s Approach

To gain a comprehensive understanding, Hofmann’s team meticulously examined the sporting habits and mental health data of 11,235 children aged 9-13. Guardians reported on various aspects of the children’s mental well-being using the Child Behavior Checklist. The researchers then delved into finding potential links between children’s mental health and their sporting habits, taking into account factors like family income and physical fitness.

Revealing Results: Team vs. Individual Sports

In alignment with their hypothesis, the data revealed that children engaged in team sports showcased fewer signs of issues like anxiety, depression, social problems, and attention difficulties. Interestingly, this wasn’t entirely the case for individual sports. Alarmingly, children exclusively participating in individual sports manifested more mental health issues than those not engaged in any sports at all. Additionally, girls involved in both team and individual sports exhibited lower tendencies for rule-breaking behavior compared to non-athletes.

A Noteworthy Conclusion

As articulated in NeuroScienceNews, one of the authors encapsulated the results, stating, “Children and adolescents engaged solely in team sports like basketball or soccer experienced fewer mental challenges than those not involved in organized sports. Surprisingly, youths practicing only individual sports faced more mental hurdles than those abstaining from sports altogether.”

The Need for Continued Observation

The researchers, staying true to the cautionary approach in science, emphasize the necessity of long-term observations to explore potential causal links between sport participation and mental health. They advocate for trainers and coaches of individual sports to remain vigilant regarding the mental health of young athletes, even if specifics remain undefined.

This study serves as an eye-opener for coaches, emphasizing the importance of monitoring the mental health of young participants. Whether team-based or individual, the sport should be a safe haven for children, nurturing both their physical and mental growth.


Associations between organized sport participation and mental health difficulties: Data from over 11,000 US children and adolescents” by Matt D. Hoffmann et al. PLOS ONE

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top