Team sport is a group physical activity that involves players interacting simultaneously to achieve an objective. The objective is usually the movement of a ball or similar object, in accordance with a set of rules, to score points or goals against an opposing team. Team sports can be played at an elite level, recreationally or socially. They are also popular with children and adolescents.
Research indicates that participation in team sports can improve a child or adolescent’s mental health and wellbeing by providing a sense of belonging, positive peer interaction and social support. These factors can lead to enhanced emotional development, better academic performance and improved cognitive ability. Additionally, playing team sport encourages a healthy lifestyle by increasing levels of physical activity, which is crucial for health and well-being.
A study examining the effect of team sport on the psychological and social development of adolescents showed that participation in organised team sports is associated with increased confidence, self-esteem, resilience, empathy and problem-solving skills. This is important because these skills can help in the classroom and at work. Additionally, participating in team sport can improve a student’s overall academic achievement and motivation. This is likely because the active state of exercise causes a unique form of short-term relaxation that can promote better concentration, improved memory and enhanced creativity.
The team dynamics in team sports are complex and require a high degree of collaboration and co-operation between players and coaches. This is because, unlike individual sports, the focus in team sport is not on the performance of each player but on the collective effort to achieve a common goal. This is important because it encourages a higher level of commitment and effort amongst athletes, which can result in an enhanced sense of accomplishment and a greater desire to continue training or competing.
Studies have also found that the quality of internal communication is related to team cohesion and performance in team sport. In particular, teams that foster a culture of support and promote back up behaviour have been found to perform better than those that do not . Additionally, leadership styles that promote supportive team behaviour have been linked with increased team cohesion in both youth and adult sports teams.
Using tracking systems to quantify training and competition characteristics has become commonplace in many team sports. However, the choice of metrics requires careful consideration to ensure that they are appropriate for the specific sport context. For example, it may not be appropriate to use absolute measures of high-speed movement such as distances covered, accelerations and decelerations in basketball, given the court size limitations and nature of the game, while it might be more useful to track movements such as defensive shuffles and close outs in American football.
A key challenge is to develop a holistic understanding of training and competition characteristics and their implications for team sport performance, which can be difficult given the myriad of influences that can impact an athlete’s performance. For instance, the culture of a sport team has been associated with the development of critical thinking in young people, whilst a poor sports culture has been implicated in the development of a range of negative emotions including depression and anxiety.