Taking part in sport has a whole host of benefits. And everyone is drawn to sport for different reasons. If we were to ask everyone their reasons for playing, the answers would all be very different. 

Take this research done on children in sport. Out of 20,000, 65% say they join sports to spend time with friends, whereas only 20% are motivated by improving their skills

With this research in mind, we can split players into two groups. There are those who do it for fun and those who focus on winning. Whichever group you fall into will influence how you view sports and how you approach playing. Let’s dive a bit deeper... 

All or nothing

This approach to sport is heavily motivated by the desire to win and be the best. You get less satisfaction from actually playing and focus more on the outcome. 

If you lose, you consider the game a failure and will likely push yourself even harder next time. You want to work hard to improve your skills, but this is mainly motivated by beating the competition rather than bettering yourself. You’re less bothered about building transferable skills. You might view your team and training as a means to an end rather than enjoying the process and social aspects of the sport. 


  • A desire to win is good motivation to work hard. You’ll push yourself harder as you always feel you have something to prove
  • You’re less distracted by any team drama
  • If you lose, you’re even more driven to win next time
  • You’ll be more committed to playing and training


  • You might miss out on the camaraderie and fun of playing a team sport
  • If you lose, your mood could suffer and you’re more likely to carry the disappointment with you off the pitch
  • You could end up so driven to win that you sacrifice other aspects of your life
  • You can’t always win so always run the risk of being disappointed


Just for fun

With this approach, it’s not only about winning. You enjoy all aspects of sport, and winning is an added bonus. 

You appreciate the camaraderie of team sports and enjoy pushing yourself in training. You view your development as a personal achievement, rather than associating it only with winning. You might be less consistent in your participation and it won’t always be your top priority.


  • You get to enjoy the team element and social side of sport
  • If you lose, you’ll be less affected and can leave any disappointments on the pitch
  • You’re more aware of transferable skills and allow yourself little victories
  • You’re better at balancing sports with your other interests


  • You might not be as driven; sometimes lacking motivation or commitment
  • As you’re less motivated by winning, your focus during a game may sometimes be lacking
  • You’re open to distractions by team drama or personal relationships with teammates
  • You might sometimes struggle to take training seriously or know when to push yourself harder


A winning combination?

These descriptions are very black or white. Most of us probably sit somewhere in the middle of these two approaches.

To perform our best and get the most out of playing sport, it pays to combine aspects of both. You can find powerful motivation in wanting to win, but it shouldn’t be the only reason you take part. You can’t win everything, so it’s worth knowing when to have fun and enjoy training. Why not enjoy the whole process as well as the satisfaction of coming out on top?

Depending on your personality and personal motivations, you might be a little more inclined to one approach or the other. Take some time to identify where you fit. You might figure out some ways to change and make your experience even more enjoyable!

No matter your reason for getting on the pitch, court, or ring, make sure you’re protected. At OPRO, we have a variety of mouthguards available for different sports and in many designs. Shop the full range here.