Children who play team sports have better mental health

The team sports They have great advantages for youngsters, not only to have fun, but also to help them socialize, stay active, and develop their cognitive abilities… Now, a study has shown that participating in a team sport between the ages of 9 and 13 can also help reduce the risk of developing Mental illness.

Research conducted by a group of experts from California State University (USA), focused on the sporting habits and mental health data of 11,235 children aged 9 to 13 years. The results are published in the journal PLUS ONE They discovered that young adults who played team sports, such as soccer or basketball, were less likely to have anxiety, isolation, depression, attention difficulties, or social problems.

We know that regular participation in youth sports has decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was due to the shutdown in organized sports leagues as well as school sports. At the same time, research has shown that children and teens have struggled from a mental health perspective during the pandemic, due to factors such as isolation, explains Matt Hoffman, lead author of the study.

In addition, he adds, “I think these findings tell us that it is important for our youth to get back into participating in organized sports, particularly team sports, as the epidemic subsides.”

Individual sport linked to worse mental health

However, the researchers thought they would also find a positive association between individual sports and mental health, but were surprised to find that children who play certain sports – such as tennis or wrestling – tend to be more likely to develop health problems. From those who did not practice any sports.

Young people who participated in only individual sports, such as gymnastics or tennis, had more mental health difficulties

However, the authors explained that in the case of girls it was different, and that a lower risk of presenting rule-violating behavior was observed in those who played any sport, either individually or collectively, compared to those who did not. implement any.

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The researchers warn that, “Children and adolescents who played only team sports, such as basketball or soccer, had fewer psychological problems than those who did not participate in any organized sport. However, to our surprise, young adults who only participated in individual sports, such as gymnastics or tennis, have more psychological difficulties compared to those who did not participate in organized sports.”

As for the interpretation, according to one of the authors of the work, it notes that “these athletes do not have teammates with whom to share losses or failures, and therefore they can take a lot of blame.” For this reason, Hoffman said, he urges ensuring young athletes who play individual sports have the support of parents, guardians and coaches, as well as the need to raise awareness of mental health.

All of these findings support the belief that team sports are beneficial in childhood and adolescence, plus the authors suggest that further research on this association could clarify the relationship that has been discovered between individual sports and poor mental health, which is why they believe that longitudinal observations should be made.

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