Squad Goals: How Team Sports Could Improve Your Mental Health
It’s not breaking news to announce that physical exercise can have a positive effect on mental health and wellbeing. However, we think that the specific benefits that team sports offer rarely get the headlines.
Physical activity can reduce stress, lift self-esteem and lower the risk of depression and anxiety, but team sports add additional dimensions of creating an extended social circle, and in some respects, commitment and responsibilities.
“We hear a lot about keeping physically fit but often forget how important being active, getting outside and working with others can be for our mental health and wellbeing,” says Dr Emma Kavanagh, Senior Lecturer in Sports Psychology and Coaching Science at Bournemouth University.
“The closeness and commitment you can get from working with others is part of the lure”
“For me, team sports are unique because of the friendships we can make in them. The closeness and commitment you can get from working with others is part of the lure of those environments”.
Team sports vary widely in competitiveness, skill-levels and intensity, so there is invariably something for everyone (even those of us who would be considered more ‘senior’ members of any team).
Dr Kavanagh, says that team sport is for “anyone who feels they would benefit from being a part of something”.
“Perhaps those bored with the gym or fitness classes, or those who want to get back to sport they gave up too early. There are so many opportunities out there to get back into team sports. There really is nothing like learning new skills, or reigniting old passions”.
“There really is nothing like learning new skills, or reigniting old passions”
Dr. Kavanagh, who also has vast experience in performance psychology through Vector Performance Coaching, believes that removing the stigma around mental health and talking is the success story we should be striving for.
“People should take the time to think about what makes them flourish, when they feel good and why. It’s important to check in and know what you need to thrive and to get the best out of yourself and those around you.”
“But also, its essential to know who to talk to or where to get support if or when you need it. For me anyone starting these conversations are the success stories.”
To find out more about mental health or to seek support, click here.
If you are keen to get involve in a sport, but are not sure where to start, or which sport to choose, check out this (non-exhaustive) list of club finders for a number of popular and more obscure team sports:
BASKETBALL: England Basketball
BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Volleyball England
CRICKET: England & Wales Cricket Board
CURLING: English Curling Association
DODGEBALL: UK Dodgeball
FOOTBALL: The FA – My Football
HANDBALL: England Handball
HOCKEY: England Hockey
ICE HOCKEY: English Ice Hockey Association
NETBALL: England Netball
ROWING: British Rowing
RUGBY LEAGUE: Rugby Football League
RUGBY UNION: Rugby Football Union
SYNCHRO SWIMMING: British Swimming
VOLLEYBALL: Volleyball For Beginners
WATER POLO: British Swimming
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