Do parents need to worry about new research linking their child’s mental health to individual sports?

According to one study, children who play individual sports such as tennis may have more mental health problems than children who play team sports.

According to one study, children who play individual sports such as tennis may have more mental health problems than children who play team sports.

© ©GEOFF CADDICK / AFP

Impact of sports practice

In a new study, researchers investigated the impact of individual sports on children’s mental health.

Atlantico: Your study shows that children who play individual sports, such as tennis, may have more mental health problems than children who play team sports or who do not play sports at all. How can this be explained?

Matt D. Hoffman: Previous studies have shown that individual sports often carry high levels of stress and pressure. If a person has to compete independently without the support of his teammates, it can lead to increased anxiety. Athletes in individual sports can put a lot of pressure on themselves to improve their performance and win the match, and it can be difficult to deal with the setbacks of poor performance. No teammates share the loss.

Certain individual sports such as gymnastics, dance and ballet can also lead to social physical anxiety. Anxiety that arises from the fear of others assessing and judging a person’s body and appearance. In sports like gymnastics, the athlete’s body is so prominent that this can cause stress and anxiety about how a person feels and looks. This can be especially difficult to deal with when you are young.

What are the problems that children playing sports like tennis may face in the future? What are the consequences of their professional or social life?

It is impossible to answer this question based on the questions and results of our survey. This result tells us about the mental health of children and adolescents who are currently playing individual sports, not in the future. My guess is that children experiencing high levels of pressure and anxiety in sports lose interest in certain sports, general sports and physical activity as they get older. There is a possibility. This means that you are more likely to quit sports due to fatigue or lack of fun, which may reduce your participation in sports later in life.

While the benefits of sports have always been advertised, it may seem counterintuitive that practicing an individual sport can be more harmful than doing nothing. What do parents need to know to help their children grow up in tennis and gymnastics?

Parents need to understand that the results of this study do not apply to all children who participate in individual sports. The results represent the average. Many children who participate in individual sports have a very good mental health profile. However, as the results show, some children who engage in individual sports exclusively may experience some challenges in terms of mental health. Parents need to communicate regularly with their children so that they can enjoy sports and cope with stress well. Parents sometimes need to check in with their children and ask how they feel about participating in the sport. I think it is important for parents and coaches to take the time to observe signs and symptoms of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and withdrawal from friends. Parents also need to emphasize the importance of enjoying sports, rather than focusing on winning and overcoming others. For children, the main thing is to enjoy the sporting experience.

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