Kids who play team sports tend to have better mental health outcomes than kids who don’t: Study

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Children and teenagers who participated in team sports In the United States, they had fewer mental difficulties compared to children who did not participate in organized sports, but children who only participated in individual sports had worse mental health outcomes compared to those who did not play any sports, according to a recent published study. In the open access journal Plos One.

The researchers analyzed self-reported data from parents or guardians regarding them Children’s mental health difficulties Using the Child Behavior Checklist.

They classified 11,235 participants, ages 9 to 13, into four groups based on their participation in organized sports, which were: 1) team sport, 2) individual and team sport, 3) individual sport and 4) non-sport participation.

WILLIAMSPORT, PA - AUGUST 29: Michigan players sit outside the dugout prior to their 2021 Junior World Championship game against the Ohio team at Howard J. Lamade Stadium on August 29, 2021 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

WILLIAMSPORT, PA – AUGUST 29: Michigan players sit outside the dugout prior to their 2021 Junior World Championship game against the Ohio team at Howard J. Lamade Stadium on August 29, 2021 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
(Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)

Examples of team sports are volleyball, football, and basketball, while examples of individual sports are gymnastics, tennis, and wrestling.

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previous search It is suggested that participation in organized sports can protect against mental health difficulties, but other studies have linked sports participation to worse mental health outcomes.

The purpose of the study was to delve further into the relationship between participation in organized sports and mental health difficulties among children and adolescents in the United States.

The study controlled for several potentially confounding variables, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, household income as well as general physical activity levels.

The researchers found that children who participated in team sports compared to those who did not participate in any sports were less likely to develop signs of this. anxiety, depression, withdrawal, social or interest problems, which was consistent with their hypothesis.

WILLIAMSPORT, PA - AUGUST 29: Ohio players watch from the dugout in the fifth inning of the 2021 Little League Championship against the Michigan team at Howard G. Lamade Stadium on August 29, 2021, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

WILLIAMSPORT, PA – AUGUST 29: Ohio players watch from the dugout in the fifth inning of the 2021 Little League Championship against the Michigan team at Howard G. Lamade Stadium on August 29, 2021, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
(Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)

Female participants who participated in both team and individual sports were less likely to engage in rule-breaking behavior compared to non-athletic participants.

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But they were surprised by one result.

Children and teenagers Those who played team sports exclusively, such as basketball or soccer, had fewer psychological difficulties than those who did not participate in any organized sport. But the surprise is that young people who participated in individual sports only, such as gymnastics or tennis, had more psychological difficulties compared to those who did not participate in organized sports.

“The findings complement previous research that suggests that participation in team sports may be a way to support the mental health of children and adolescents,” the researchers added.

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The cross-sectional design of the study does not allow for a causal relationship to be established between the relationship between participation in organized sports and mental health difficulties.

Dublin, Ireland - June 4, 2022;  Seán Cronin of Leinster with his children Finn, Cillian and Saoirse at the team gathering after their team won the United Rugby Championship quarterfinal match between Leinster and Glasgow Warriors at the RDS Arena in Dublin.

Dublin, Ireland – June 4, 2022; Seán Cronin of Leinster with his children Finn, Cillian and Saoirse at the team gathering after their team won the United Rugby Championship quarterfinal match between Leinster and Glasgow Warriors at the RDS Arena in Dublin.
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

So the results do not mean that participation in team sports improves the mental health of children and adolescents or that mental health outcomes can predict whether a child will be more or less likely to participate in different types of sports.

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The researchers concluded, “Further research is needed to determine to what extent and in what circumstances participation in individual sports may be problematic for the younger cohort.”