Physical Activity and Team Sport

Throughout history, team sport has provided a cultural and social backdrop for a wide range of athletic endeavors. Many people think of team sports in terms of their physical fitness benefits, but research indicates that participating in a variety of team sports may also have positive impacts on mental, social, spiritual and physical health.

A team sport involves a fixed number of players for a game or match. Each player must contribute to the outcome of the game or match, and success requires coordination and cooperation between teammates. Examples of team sports include baseball, soccer, basketball, water polo and rugby. In addition, some individual sports have team variations, such as synchronized swimming and doubles tennis.

Many teams have extensive external controls that influence internal processes, such as regulating the number of athletes permitted on a team, when a team can start practicing and how many games it can play. For example, the National Collegiate Athletic Association specifies the maximum amount of athletic scholarships that a team can award to its athletes.

Across multiple industries, four key variables have been identified as important for team function and performance; leadership styles, supportive team behaviour, communication, and performance feedback. High-performance teams should focus on these factors in order to improve their outcomes. This article provides an overview of the literature on these variables. Using the UK as an example, it identifies opportunities for implementing nationally promoted tools to increase team sport participation and wider physical activity.