Have you ever wondered why some people are drawn to team sports while others find solace in the individual pursuit of a sport that tests their personal limits? Well, you are not alone. The realm of sports has long fascinated researchers, coaches, and enthusiasts alike. Besides the obvious health benefits of exercising, there seems to be something unique about how we choose the specific type of physical exercise. Even scientists have sought to understand the intricate relationship between personality traits and sports preferences. This interplay delves into the very core of what drives us as individuals and how our unique characteristics shape our athletic inclinations. Personal interests and physical abilities play a role in determining the sports we gravitate towards. But it is becoming increasingly evident that our personality traits also influence our choices.


In this article, we are going to explore this field and look into some of the benefits of exercise on mental health. We are going to take a glimpse into how personality traits impact our choice of sport. Whether you’re competitive, team-oriented, adventurous, or enjoy individual pursuits, the sport you chose likely aligns with your personality.


The science of preferences

Several studies continue to shed light on the relationship between personality traits and sports preferences, providing valuable insight into this field of research. One study conducted by Rentfrow & Gosling (2006) explored the connection between the Big Five personality traits and individual sports preferences. Their findings revealed that extroverted individuals were more inclined towards team sports, and people higher in openness tended to favor individual sports.


Another notable study by Allen, Laborde, and Radel (2012) compared the personality traits of competitive athletes and non-athletes. The research demonstrated that competitive athletes scored higher in extraversion and lower in neuroticism compared to non-athletes. This highlights the potential impact of personality on a person’s choice to engage in competitive sports.


A third study by Allahverdipour, Farhadinasab, and Bashiran in 2008 explored the relationship between personality traits and sports performance, focusing on Iranian athletes. Their findings indicated that athletes scoring higher in extraversion, conscientiousness, and emotional stability tended to perform better.


These studies help us better understand how personality traits interact with athletic endeavors. These studies can help enhance training approaches and contribute to better planning of team dynamics and overall athletic experiences. 


The main categories of sports

There are many kinds of sports, though, not only for athletes, and it’s not always that performance-oriented. Still, practicing particular sports for a longer period of time can also shape our personalities. Let’s take a look at the most important sports categories and what personality traits are connected to them!


Team sports

In top performing sports cities, team sports like soccer, basketball, baseball, or volleyball take center stage. These sports require collaboration, communication, and coordination among teammates. Athletes who enjoy working closely with others thrive in these team-oriented environments. The success of teams in these cities is often attributed to the strong bonds formed between players and the support of fans. Trust, leadership, and effective communication are vital because teammates must rely on each other’s abilities. Team sports cultivate not only athletic skills but life skills as well, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared goals. Team sports provide a platform for experiencing the satisfaction of collective achievement. Team sports also serve as a unifying force, especially in sports cities, creating a sense of community and culture to share and celebrate collectively. 


Individual sports

Individual sports might be more appealing if you prefer activities that allow you to work independently and focus on personal goals. Running, swimming, cycling, tennis, or golf can appeal to those who prefer independent pursuits and personal challenges. These sports require self-motivation, discipline, and a drive for self-improvement. People engaging in these types of activities often possess traits like determination, self-reliance, and a strong work ethic. The nature of individual sports demand focus, perseverance, and the ability to push one’s personal limits. Individual sports make you set your own goals and take responsibility for successes and failures. Athletes engaging in individual sports rely on their internal motivation and intrinsic rewards fuel their performance. Those practicing individual sports often have a competitive spirit, a desire for self-mastery, and the ability to maintain focus and concentration. 

Extreme sports

Extreme sports encompass a wide range of activities, namely snowboarding, surfing, rock climbing, skydiving, and parkour, to name just a few. These sports attract individuals with a deep sense of adventure and willingness to get to know and fight their deepest fears. Engaging in extreme sports presupposes a craving for excitement and the skills to handle high levels of stress. Mental resilience is crucial as extreme athletes encounter intense situations that demand quick decision-making and adaptability. Physical fitness, coordination, and mental focus are also essential in these sports. Extreme sports offer not only thrilling experiences but also opportunities for personal growth, self-discovery, and pushing one’s boundaries. Participants often form close-knit communities, bonding over their pursuit of excitement and overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles. 


 Mental sports

You’d be surprised what falls into the category of mental sports! Still, it’s 100% true that chess, poker, bridge, or even Dota count among them! Esports like puzzle games put a premium on strategic thinking, mental agility, and tactical skills. Engaging in these sports requires traits such as analytical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and capacity for strategic planning. People who excel in mental sports are often patient, focused, and can think several moves ahead. Mental sports demand discipline, critical thinking, and predictive and analytical skills. These sports offer a platform for individuals to showcase their intellectual prowess, test their decision-making abilities, and engage in mental competition. Those who prefer mental sports often have a passion for learning, a competitive drive, and deep appreciation for the intricacies of complex systems. 


Martial arts

Karate, judo, taekwondo, or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu encompass disciplines that go beyond physical techniques and require a specific set of personality traits. Engaging in martial arts demands a high level of discipline, focus, perseverance, and self-control. Practitioners must also cultivate traits like humility and respect and a willingness to learn from both successes and failures. Martial artists develop mental and emotional resilience. Patience and the ability to stay calm under pressure are crucial. These practices foster a sense of self-awareness, emphasizing personal growth. Values such as integrity, honor, and dedication are key to these sports. The pursuit of mastery in martial arts is not just physical, however. It is an embodiment of mental and spiritual growth, shaping individuals into resilient, focused, disciplined practitioners both inside and outside the training environment. 



The relationship between personality traits and sports preference is a captivating area of study. Understanding the connection between personality traits and sports preferences not only enhances our knowledge of human behavior but also guides tailoring approaches to training, team dynamics, and performance optimization. There’s an intricate interplay between our inherent traits and the diverse world of sports. But don’t forget: it’s a two-way thing. Choosing a certain type of sport to enhance parts of your personality you wish to strengthen is also an approach. Picking a sport for personality growth is an unusual, but nonetheless valid path to take.