I In Team

The Divide Between Solo Sport Athletes & Team Players

I In TeamAs the saying goes, there’s no “I” in “Team.” But are some athletes meant to be working alone?

Team athletes and solo players have been found to differ in one key element of gameplay – their motivation.

Two Types of Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the internal driving force that pushes us to do something for its own sake. Theory believes that intrinsic motivation works to satisfy an individual’s psychological needs, including competence, relatedness, and autonomy.

Extrinsic motivation is caused by external factors and drives us to do something for tangible rewards.

Individual sport players are driven by higher levels of intrinsic motivation compared to their team-counterparts. A 2008 study found that athletes involved in individual sports experienced greater feelings of autonomy than athletes playing in team-based competitions.

Regardless of which sport type an athlete chooses, there is a plethora of benefits to both team play and individual sports, each offering a unique skill set to its participants.

Why Play Alone

Tennis PlayerPlaying individually in sports like golf, swimming, and tennis teaches young athletes to be self reliant. The success of an athlete relies solely on the effort and skill they are putting forth during each competition. Players become responsible for their own actions and decisions.

Individual sports also give young players more time in the spotlight – increasing their comfort level while performing under pressure and in front of an audience, which can translate to greater self confidence later in life.

Starting an individual sport gives athletes a chance to improve at their own pace. Sports like basketball group players based on age. However, sports like karate group participants based on skill level. Individual sports offer players with differing skill levels a chance to progress without peer intimidation.

Teamwork All The Way

Team SportWorking with a team provides young athletes the chance to develop their teamwork skills. The success and failure of a team is not dependent on one singular player, rather the responsibility is shared between all members of the team.

Teams also act as a scale to measure a player’s individual performance. Working with others can motivate an athlete to improve a personal skill and push themselves to achieve more difficult goals to catch up to the level of their peers. Teammates can add encouragement and motivation.

Whether intrinsically or externally motivated, all athletes can stand to benefit from participation in sports!

Do you have a story to share about the motivation behind your sports participation? Leave a comment in the section below!

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Kris Baker

Kris Baker is the President of Demosphere and has been serving the Youth Sports Community since 2006.