Team sports get a lot of attention, and that’s true pretty much anywhere in the world. Most school athletics, public or private, focus the bulk of their resources on sports that involve groups. The kids aren’t alone though–adults play pickup basketball games, play fantasy football at the office and get together for ultimate Frisbee on weekends. Tennis, golf and swimming get their time, but in most of the world, they’re the exception.
Carl Jung was one of the first to start talking introversion and extraversion back in the early 20th century, and today we stand with an estimate that about 50% of the people walking around on the planet are, in fact, introverted. Introversion and extraversion carry a lot of qualifiers around them (family dynamics, culture, gender to name a few), but to break it down most simply, when it comes to interacting with the outside world (i.e. other people) introverts are drained and extraverts are energized. The opposite is also true…time alone gets introverts going and shuts extraverts down. What’s that got to do with sports? Well, it’s a generally accepted fact that sports are good for people. Most of the talk around those benefits exist around physical health and focus on children, but let’s be honest, adults can benefit too and it goes deeper than a healthy body.
That said, not all sports are created equal. Those team sports we mentioned? Sure, introverted folk can benefit from them, but are they the best way of encouraging a life long relationship with physical activity and personal challenge? Do they best mesh with introvert strengths and push them in ways that are challenging, but considerate of who they are?
Martial arts overall, with their focus on individualized practice, reflection and personal development, are a good natural fit for introverts. BJJ though, offers some bonuses. The art inherently, has found a way to balance introversion and extraversion, in the forms of Japanese (a generally introverted culture) and Brazilian (a culture that values extraversion) cooperation. Every BJJ class is a real life exercise in finding value in both the world of the internal and the world of the external, something that many introverts, especially in Western cultures, tend to struggle with (language), both because of their own standards, and pressures from friends and family to change their behavior.
This is a topic we’ve just scratched the surface on, so we’re looking to hear about people’s experiences. Do you enjoy team sports? Have you ever been pressured to be more socially active at your gym? Are you an introvert looking to be more active but the idea of a team puts you off?