Why Girls Should Play Team Sport
Whether you’re looking to keep your child active, or simply want to promote healthy lifestyles, team sport can help. In addition to providing a fun way to stay fit, team sports can also help children to develop social, cognitive and intrapersonal skills. These skills can serve as lifelong tools for developing well-rounded individuals.
The Department of Health has promoted walking cities and an Everybody Active Every Day toolkit. They are attempting to get more people to engage in physical activities, and team sports are a big part of that. But, as of yet, there is little evidence about the effectiveness of interventions designed to encourage girls to play team sports.
A systematic review looked at the effect of physical activity interventions on secondary school-aged girls’ participation in team sports. It assessed four studies in total, and aimed to identify the best, most reliable and most effective measures. In doing so, it assessed whether the quality of the intervention was sufficient, whether it was gender specific, and whether the intervention possessed any major strengths or weaknesses. It identified recommendations for future interventions, such as the development of healthy role models in the media, and the promotion of sustained participation.
There are several team sports, each of which is unique in its equipment, rules and strategy. One example is basketball, where the ball is passed around a grid and the winner is the team with the highest score. Another is volleyball, where the team with the ball must make quick decisions to keep the game going.
There are also full-contact sports such as rugby and boxing, which require players to take on whole bodies, or even a puck, in order to win. These sports are more difficult to assess, and a test of the best team sport is still in its infancy. A recent study of sports retention revealed a major difference between male and female participants.
In the United Kingdom, team sport interventions are likely to be introduced in an educational context. This could be a good place to start, as many of the behavioural and mental health benefits of playing sports are not immediately obvious.
In addition to the more obvious physical benefits of playing team sport, a study has suggested that team sport may have a higher psychological benefit than non-team sports. For example, team sports are thought to promote comradery, improve mental health, and even lower risk-taking behavior. It may even have more of a long-term effect than other forms of exercise.
Team sport has been linked with higher grades at school, better mental health, and less risk-taking behavior. It has also been linked with greater satisfaction with life. It is no surprise then that promoting this kind of physical activity is a top priority for the Department of Health.
Although there are a number of studies in the UK and beyond, there are few that report on the true effectiveness of these interventions. A systematic review of team sport interventions for young girls, however, has identified some of the most promising practices.