Course:KIN366/ConceptLibrary/TeamSportParticipation

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Team Sport Participation
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KIN 366
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Instructor: Dr. Shannon S.D. Bredin
Email: shannon.bredin@ubc.ca
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Sport is defined as an activity that involves two or more participants engaged for the purpose of competition (Statistic Canada, 2013). Sport involves formal rules and procedures, requires tactics and strategies, specialized neuromuscular skills, and high degree of difficulty and effort (Statistic Canada, 2013). Team sports are a group of individuals on the same team working together to compete against an opposing team. Examples of team sports are soccer, basketball, football and volleyball.

In order to perform in team sports or individual sports, individuals will have to develop sport specific skills. Sport specific skills are the advanced versions of fundamental motor skills (Department of Education, 1996). Fundamental motor skills are common motor activities with specific observable patterns (Department of Education, 1996). Fundamental motor skills are developed throughout early childhood after the acquisition of rudimentary motor skills in infancy. Therefore, fundamental motor skills are crucial to the development of sport specific skills. For example, throwing in softball and cricket, the baseball pitch, javelin throw, tennis serve and netball should pass are all advanced forms of the overhand throw (Department of Education, 1996).

Team Sport Participation

The Sequence of Motor Development

As mentioned above, mature development of fundamental motor skills are required for proper development of sport specific skills. Therefore, the development of motor skills and physical fitness and knowledge must begin in the earliest years of primary school (Department of Education, 1996). During the early years of primary school, students are capable and highly motivated about learning movement skills. Therefore, it is crucial for teachers to provide age appropriate and developmentally appropriate instructions and tasks for the children. If a child does not master the fundamental motor skills they are less able and less willing to persist with tasks that require more complex motor skills and will avoid activities which may expose them to potential failure. This in turn leads to a child facing proficiency barriers and may reject participation in physical activity as part of their lifestyle. Furthermore, this may decrease the physical activity level of the child throughout their life and lead to long term mental and physical health issues.

Team Sports and Gender Differences

In general, boys and girls at early childhood prefer different type of sports. A study done by Schumacher et al (2011) stated boys practice more hours of extra-curricular sport than girls in 2007. Significantly more boys practiced in team sport, while girls practiced in individual sport. Also, girls tend to experience more anxiety in various social environments both interaction and performance situations (Schumacher et al., 2011).

A study done by Steptoe et al (1996) examined the difference between participation in out-of-school sport and vigorous recreational activity (because participation in sport in school did not differ significantly between sexes). It was found that girls participated in significantly more individual sports and vigorous recreational activities than boys. Also, participation in non-vigorous activities was greater among boys than girls (Steptoe et al., 1996). Examples of non-vigorous activities are: Billiards, darts, fishing, pool, snooker. Example of individual sports and vigorous activities are: track/field events, badminton, canoeing, cross-country running, cycling, dancing, gymnastics, ice skating.

The difference between the two genders may be explained by the high level of social anxiety girls tend to have. In a context of individual sports, girls can practice and perform at their own pace without any external disturbance. In a team sports environment, there may be competition between teammates which could lead to anxiety for some individuals. Therefore, it is important for coaches to create an environment that is directed toward a mastery-oriented climate instead of a performance-orientated climate.

Team Sports and Developmental Coordination Disorder

Participation in team sports can affect a child’s mental development as well. A study done by Poulsen and his colleagues (2007) found that team sports participation is associated with low loneliness for boys. As stated in the research, “team sports offer opportunities for affiliation, supportive networks, turn taking, and leadership possibilities” (Poulsen, 2007).

On the contrary, poor performance may, in fact, lead to anxiety, negative effect, reduced enjoyment, and lack of personal satisfaction (Poulsen, 2007). Therefore, for children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), participation in team sports may lead to social anxiety which could have a long term affect to their willingness to participation in sports in the future. It is important then, to identify team sports characteristics and environments that are likely to be supportive of a child’s mental health (Poulsen, 2007). For example, practitioners working with DCD children need to evaluate the motivational climate of the proposed team sports environments to determine whether the coaching program is directed toward a mastery-oriented climate that promotes personal improvement, learning, and self-referenced skill acquisition rather than an ego-involving or competitive motivational climate, where social comparison or normative referencing of ability is the focus (Poulsen, 2007).

Team Sports and Social Anxiety

In the context of sports and social anxiety, children who were more involved in sports activities were rated by their teachers as more socially competent than peers who were less involved in such activities (Fletcher et al., 2003). Children who were more involved in sports activities also reported higher levels of psychosocial maturity (Fletcher et al., 2003). These findings suggest a positive correlation between participation in structured leisure activities and greater improvements in psychosocial development. It is clear that sport practice appears to help socially anxious children when practiced in a social context with other same-aged children (Schumacher et al., 2011). These findings can help support the idea of forming a team sport with an inclusive environment for children experiencing social anxiety. Furthermore, children in team sport were found to manifest fewer symptoms of social anxiety on self-report measures than those practicing an individual sport or, in some cases, no sport at all (Schumacher et al., 2011).

Team Sports Participation and Peer Victimization

Being involved in structured physical activities may help mitigate depressive symptoms in victimized children (Perron et al., 2013). Specifically, victimized children who rarely participated in team sports had a higher level of teacher-rated depressive symptoms at age 8 compared to victimized children who were frequently enrolled in such activities (Perron et al., 2013). However, a similar moderating effect of sports was not observed for children who participated in individual sports (Perron et al., 2013).

As demonstrated by Salmon (2001), sports participation is associated with improved social networks. Thus, for victimized children who engage in team sports, being part of a group might generate a feeling of belonging that may be lacking in individual sports and that could protect against the development of depressive symptoms.

Victims have been shown to often lack in both social information processing and problem-solving skills (Smith et al., 2001), which are two important elements of an effective coping system (Perron et al., 2013). Being part of a sports team might generate numerous opportunities for the acquisition and practice of conflict resolution skills and general coping strategies, yet in a perhaps “gentler” way than would be achieved through participation in individual sports (Perron et al., 2013). In team sports, winning and losing are rarely one person’s fault, therefore being part of a team can help protect the already bruised ego of victimized children if they lose a game. Team sports participation may thus not only increase victimized children’s popularity but also foster the development of coping skills to face difficult social situations in an affirmative, yet non-confrontational manner (Perron et al., 2013). In the same study the potential benefits of team sports participation against the detrimental effects of peer victimization applies equally to both gender.

Externalizing Problems

Externalizing problems are negative behaviors that are directed towards the external environment. Examples are being antisocial or aggressive behaviors towards other. Externalizing problems for children who were not victimized remained unchanged regardless of how often they participated in sporting activities (Perron et al., 2013). However, for highly victimized children, frequent participation in team sports buffered at least somewhat against an increase in externalizing problems (Perron et al., 2013). In contrast, their less active victimized counterparts experienced a more significant increase in externalizing problems (Perron et al., 2013).

It can be concluded that team sports participation is beneficial for victimized children by improving their social wellbeing, giving them a sense of belonging, improving their information processing and problem-solving skills, and lowering negative behaviors towards the external environment.

Practical Application

It is important to fully develop fundamental movement skills in children before they can start to develop sport specific skills. If the fundamental movement skills are not fully developed, it may be hard for children to develop sport specific skills and proficiency barriers may arise. Therefore, teachers in primary school should provide age appropriate and developmentally appropriate tasks for children to practice their fundamental movement skills.

Differences between males and females participation in sports was observed. It was found that girls tend to participate in more individual sports whereas boys tend to engage in team sports. Part of the reason for the difference may be due to the fact that girls tend to experience more anxiety in various social environments. Participation in individual sports allows girls to practice and improve at their own pace without the fear of failing in front of their teammates or coaches. With this in mind, it is important for coaches to try and create an environment that fosters personal development instead of putting heavy emphasis on performance. This way, individuals will tend to focus more on personal improvements instead of comparing themselves to others.

Several benefits have been observed for team sports participation in early childhood. These benefits include lowering social anxiety, helping children with Developmental Coordination Disorder, and assist peer victimized children in overcoming social barriers.

In terms of Developmental Coordination Disorder, team sports participation for boys with DCD is associated with low loneliness compared to boys that does not participate in team sports. However, poor performance may lead to anxiety, reduced enjoyment, and lack of personal satisfaction. In order to ensure positive outcomes in team sports participation with DCD children, the team sports characteristics should be supportive of a child’s mental health. The coaches should have their coaching program directed toward a mastery-oriented climate that promotes personal improvement instead of a competitive climate.

Children with social anxiety can also benefit from participating in team sports. It was found that teachers rated children who were more involved in team sports activities as more socially competent than their respective peers who were less involved in such activities. It can be concluded that there is a positive correlation between participation in team sports and improvements in psychosocial development. An important application that can be concluded is the need to create an inclusive environment for children experiencing social anxiety.

Lastly, participation in team sports may help mitigate depressive symptoms in victimized children. It was found that children who rarely participated in team sports had a higher level of depressive symptoms at age 8 compared to victimized children who frequently enrolled in such activities. Interestingly, a similar moderating effect of sports did not appear for children that participated in individual sports. As mentioned early, team sports participation can help victimized children find a sense of belonging and develop their coping skills. Being part of a sports team provides opportunities for children to acquire and practice conflict resolution skills and general coping strategies. Also, winning and losing is never an individual’s fault in team sports so the share of victory in winning and share of burden in losing can protect the already damaged ego in victimized children.

To conclude this, we can safely assume the benefits team sports can have in the development of children’s social and cognitive development, whether it is to practice their coping skills, giving them a sense of belonging, or protecting and fostering the damaged egos in some of them. The most important aspect, however, is to ensure the sporting environment is inclusive and focuses on personal development rather than performance development which is where competition occurs.


Reference

Department of Education, Victoria. (1996). Fundamental Motor Skills. A Manual for Classroom Teachers, 4-12. Retrieved from (http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/teachers/teachingresources/social/physed/fmsteacher.pdf)

Fletcher, A. C., Nickerson, P., & Wright, K. L. (2003). Structured leisure activities in middle childhood: Links to well‐being. Journal of Community Psychology, 31(6), 641-659. doi:10.1002/jcop.10075

Perron, A., Brendgen, M., Vitaro, F., Cote, S. M., Tremblay, R. E., & Boivin, M. (2013). Moderating effects of team sports participation on the link between peer victimization and mental health problems. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 5(2), 107-115. doi: 10.1016/j.mhpa.2012.08.006

Poulsen, A., Ziviani, J., Cuskelly, M., & Smith, R. (2007). Boys with developmental coordination disorder: Loneliness and team sports participation. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY, 61(4), 451-462. doi:10.5014/ajot.61.4.451

Salmon, P. (2001). Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: a unifying theory. Clinical Psychology Review, 21(1), 33e61. http:// dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0272-7358(99)00032-X.

Schumacher Dimech, A., & Seiler, R. (2011). Extra-curricular sport participation: A potential buffer against social anxiety symptoms in primary school children. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 12(4), 347-354. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2011.03.007

Smith, P. K., Shu, S., & Madsen, K. (2001). Characteristics of victims of school bullying: developmental changes in coping strategies and skills. In J. Juvonen, & S. Graham (Eds.), Peer harassment in school: The plight of the vulnerable and victimized (pp. 332e351). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.

Stats Canada. (2013) Sport Participation; Research paper, Statistics Canada. Retrieved from: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2013/pc-ch/CH24-1-2012-eng.pdf