What Is the Difference Between Individual and Dual Sports?

difference-between-individual-dual-sports Credit: Swell Media/UpperCut Images/Getty Images

In individual sports, no partner is required to compete or play the game, while dual sports are sports that require two players on each side. Some sports, such as tennis, can fall into both categories.

Marathon running and snowboarding are examples of sports that have just one competitor. People may compete as part of a team in these sports, or represent a certain state or country, but they are still judged and evaluated based on their own individual performance. Some sports, like tennis, can fall into both categories. This is the case with singles tennis and doubles tennis. In singles tennis, the game is played one-on-one with two participants on the court. In doubles tennis, the game is played by two players on each team, which amounts to four people competing in total on the court. Along with single and dual sports, there is another category of sports called team sports. Team sports are those that have more than two players or participants per side. Crew, soccer, football and hockey are examples of team sports that require the collaboration of several individuals working together in a game or tournament.

Pros and Cons of Each
As with any sport, there are advantages and disadvantages to competing on each type of team. Individual sports can be advantageous in the sense that they let one person focus on doing his or her best without having to adapt and adjust to meet another's needs. This situation is particularly beneficial for strong players and participants, such as top tennis players who may be at a disadvantage when having to play with another team member.

In contrast, weaker players may benefit from a stronger partner's superior skills and talent. An example might be a doubles tennis team where one person has a strong forehand but a weak backhand, and his or her partner has a strong backhand.

Many of the same sets of pros and cons typically extend to team sports too. For those playing in a situation with more than one person, the "me" component of the competition is subordinate to what the team needs, whether the team is two people or five. This is beneficial for people with one particular strength, such as a soccer player who excels as a goalie but is not as good at offense. There can also be less pressure for an individual to perform at his or her peak capacity in a team setting than there is in individual sports. That also means that if a person is having an off day, the team can provide support by picking up the slack. In individual sports, in contrast, a person having an off day does not have that support, and his or her final result may be negatively affected. In dual and team sports, the emphasis is more on the team's strength, and an individual's mistakes are more easily overlooked and forgiven.

Sports Pressure
In any sport, there can be considerable pressure on an individual to compete and perform at his or her peak capacity. This is particularly true for high-level sports and teams with a strong winning record. Individually judged athletes on teams, such as gymnastics, also face this pressure.