Table of Contents
The benefits of regular physical activity cannot be undermined with numerous research present to support this claim. Besides physical benefits, regular physical activity is linked to numerous psychosocial benefits that need to be evaluated. The major psychosocial areas impacted by physical activity include personality, stress and coping, moral development, aggression, competition, team building and cohesion, and leadership. In the event of stress and anxiety management, games and exercise can be seen as an effective tranquilizer by contributing to the reduction in muscle tension and causing relaxation effects. Tension reduction in sports results from the sustained exercise or moderate exercise occurring over an extended time period.
Do sports affect the athlete’s psychosocial well-being?
Topic and significance
Psychosocial health of humans involves mental, social, emotional, and spiritual soundness. Being psychosocially healthy does not mean one is devoid of problems. On the contrary, it in the way psychosocially healthy people view themselves differently and have productive ways of dealing with stressful situations. For instance, psychosocially healthy people like themselves; care for themselves; accept mistakes; are optimistic; control their anger, hate, and anxiety; and have empathy for others. Some previous research link sports to psychosocial health of individuals. Sports is viewed as a psychosocial intervention that works well in reliving people from tension, fear, trauma, stress, and other psychological aspects while making them more productive, enhancing their resilience, and facilitating social and emotional stabilization.
According to Kunz (2009), the study of the role of sports, games, and play to human health has gained much attention in the recent past. Sports, games, and play are perceived as crucial instruments in the support of psychosocial rehabilitation process during conflict and post-disaster situations. However, recognizing that games, sports, and movement contribute towards psychological health does not automatically translate to positive impact. According to Ley and Barrio (2010) games, movement, and sports must be used professionally or intentionally as tools for psychological intervention. For instance, though games are popular in most world populations, care must be taken to ensure that games are not exclusively meant for a specific population. Additionally, games, sports, and movement must be such that all the most affected groups are included. It is also critical to know how to adapt and modify each of the games and sports such that they match with the interests, capacities, and needs of the participating individuals or groups. For the communities, it is crucial that the projects are based on local circumstances, thinking and culture, norms and values, goals and interests, and led by needs (Spaaij, 2009). Through proper planning of using sports as a form of intervention, the result will be the development of mental strength. Mental strength refers to one’s capability to consistently perform towards the upper range of one’s talent of skills despite competition (Beckman & Elbe, 2015). Mental strength should also include developing the natural or developed psychological edge that enables a person to cope better than their opponents in most demands; and be more consistent and better compared to their opponents and be focussed, confident, determined, and controlled under pressure.
The study seeks to create an understanding of the importance of sports on psychosocial health of different populations. For instance, among people experiencing trauma, there is need to understand the role of sports as a tool of intervention and improving the victim’s mental strength. Among populations experiencing prejudice, discrimination, or segregation, it is crucial to understand the role of sports in promoting social integration and eliminating fear or tension among members in the population.
Analysis (application and significance to local context)
Sports has been found to be a source of a place or activity for people to engage. According to Soundy, et al (2015), patients feel that they have a sense of purpose and can access meaningful and valuable social experiences. Besides creating a sense of purpose, sports provided participants as sense of undertaking normalized activity that offered them an opportunity to become someone within the group with a positive sense of identity. Additionally, being in a sporting environment, participants were able to focus on what they were doing unlike their mental status and some went to the extent of feeling detached from the medical system and this was beneficial. According to Carter-Moris and Faulkner (2003), individuals engaging in sports experienced a distraction from their typical anxieties, worries, or mental health symptoms. When in the sporting environment, people concentrate on accomplishing the task ahead of them and end up in forgetting their anxiety and worries. Consequently, this improves their psychological health. Sports is also linked to pride in the accomplishment of a task. When in the sporting environment, successful completion of a task results to pride in the participant. Besides fun, sports participants often develop positive feelings of fun and excitement, thus resulting in feelings that expelled negative emotions like anger and frustration. According to Sportanddev (2017), sport allow for brief periods of respite, focusing attention away from loss, and offering an opportunity to strengthen educational messages. For the caregivers and parents, sports offer a breathing space, highlighting the importance of sport and games to different people in the community.
In essence, the main aim of using sports as a psychosocial intervention is to improve a person’s well-being and psychological health. Although it is crucial that individuals with severe psychological symptoms to obtain individual support, group intervention is perceived to be the most effective. For the participants, psychosocial sports programmes offer a safe, structured, and friendly environment where people can start to share emotions using verbal and non-verbal communication with the aim establishing social cohesion and interact and communicate with each other.
Sports should be used to create a supportive environment that presents opportunities for interaction, fun and excitement, and participation. For the young people psychosocial sport activities will impact on school performance, and behaviour at home.
The sports trainers should ensure to properly plan for the sport to include such that it aligns with the culture, norms, beliefs and needs of the target group. The trainers are also expected to be trusted adults who the participants, parent and others can easily build relations with.
- Beckman, J., & Elbe, A.-M. (2015). Sport Psychological Interventions in Competitive Sports. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
- Carter-Morris, p., & Faulkner, G. (2003). A football project for service users: the role of football in educing social exclusion. Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 2, 24-30.
- Kunz, V. (2009). Sport as a post-disaster psychosocial intervention in Bam, Iran. Sport in Societya, 12(9), 1147-1157.
- Ley, C., & Barrio, M. (2010). Movement, games, and sports in psychosocial intervention: a critical discussion of its potential limitation within cooperation for development. Interventions, 8(2), 106-120.
- Soundy, A., Freeman, P., Stubbs, B., Probst, M., Roskell, C., & Vancampfort, D. (2015). The Psychosocial Consequences of Sports Participation for Individuals with Severe Mental Illness: A Metasynthesis Review. Advances in Psychiatry, 2015(2015), 8.
- Spaaij, R. (2009). The social impact of sport: diversities, complexities and contexts. Sport in Society, 12(9), 1109-1117.
- sportanddev. (2017, May 18). Sport as a psychosocial intervention.