Both individual and team sports promote physical growth, strategic thinking and character development. However, the values that govern performance in each sport are distinct.
It’s common for coaches to chastise a whole team following failure.
Georgia State men’s basketball standout Eliel Nsoseme has provided the Panthers a voice they needed. He often speaks up for his teammates and inspires them to contribute to the team’s success.
“I always say to my teammates that I got their back,” Nsoseme said. “So, I will be there to cover for them when you get beat off the dribble, but also make sure they do their job on and off the court.”
But as an individual player, the emotions are a bit different, and blame cannot go to a variety of players.
Panthers’ tennis senior Andrei Duarte knows the inescapable feeling of accountability. As an individual player, you are solely responsible for everything. So when things get shaky, you can’t hide behind your teammates.
“The good thing about tennis is if you win, it’s on you,” Duarte said. “The bad thing about tennis is if you lose, it’s on you. It is no one else’s fault. You’re the only one out there. You’re the only one playing.”
When working with a group of people who all want to accomplish the same goal, each individual can have their distinct path to success, so disagreements can be one of the most common roadblocks team players face.
“The most challenging is conflict,” Nsoseme said. “…Everybody has their own opinion from the best music artist to a more serious issue that can put the team in a bad place.’
On the other hand, individual players face the challenge of walking onto a court with all eyes on them and everyone rooting for their success or failure.
“The hardest thing about being an individual player is that it gets lonely sometimes,” Duarte said. “When you’re out on the court struggling and have no one to help you out, you feel helpless at times. There is no one out there but you.”
Being a team player, however, has many advantages. Nsoseme was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but grew up in the Canadian province of Ontario. International athletes may find it difficult to travel far away from their families, but the team and coaches’ camaraderie is what makes Georgia State feel like home.
“To have a support system that is going through the same thing with you is great,” Nsoseme said. “It is not easy to be here away from my family, so my team is helping me to go through this situation. The motivation around our team is great from the coaches to the players in the locker-room; we make sure that everyone is confident and in a good place to give his best for the team.”
On the other hand, for Duarte, growing his mastery comes as a perk of individual training. Balancing expectations on anyone’s shoulders, especially a student-athlete at a young age, can teach accountability, even off the field.
“I believe the biggest benefit of the individual sport that is tennis is the fact that you learn to assume responsibility,” Duarte said. “You learn such a good work ethic. Because when there are days that you don’t want to play, you push yourself and motivate yourself to go out there and play because you know you need to.”
No matter if you have 10 teammates by your side or zero, individual sports and team sports all have the same goal. Go out onto the court and give it your all to bring home another win.