Some might be surprised by the results. There are many different types of stresses that contribute to a player and their sports performance. Total stress load can cause athletes to be drained emotionally and at times it can be complicated for a person to deal with the stress that arises. Stress can also take a toll physically on athletes, whether it be muscle or bone related, pressure builds up and can have an effect on their reference.
It’s hard to understand the amount of stress that can be put on an athlete without knowing what stress is, the types of stresses that cause stress, total Stress load, and how to cope with Stress physically and emotionally. Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. To put it in simple terms, stress is the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change. According to Ethnically, “Most people play sports with others for the thrill of having fun with those that they share interests with” (Lynxes, 1).
On the other hand, sometimes athletes that are playing get put under a lot of pressure via their coach, school or even their own parents to go out there and get a win every single time. Winning, of course leads to the entire team having fun, but if the stress and demand is so high from a player, it might not become as enjoyable for that specific player. While stress may be the downfall for some athletes’ performance, there are also many cases where stress can become positive for a player to meet the challenge.
To understand how stress can be a positive factor in sports, it is crucial to know the preference between distress and stutters. In Corroded Greenberg Comprehensive Stress Management, distress is described as bad things to which one has to adapt and that can lead to a stress reaction (Greenberg, 5). Ethnically describes stutters as the good type of stress stemming from the challenge of taking part in something enjoyable but need to work hard for (Lynxes, 1). To understand the effect that stress has on an athlete, one must understand the concept of what a stresses is. Stresses are a stimulus with the potential for triggering the fight-or-flight response” which was defined in Comprehensive Stress Management (Greenberg, 9). A stresses is generally anything that causes the release of stress hormones. When dealing with stresses in sports, Disproportions states that there are three specific stresses: competitive, organizational, and personal. Competitive stresses are stresses that only arise when competing in a competitive situation. The competitive stresses that most people are familiar with in sports are pressure, injuries, opponents, technique issues, and preparation.
Organizational stresses are formed when the athlete has to deal with emends in which the organization he/she is playing for. The five organizational themes are as followed: intrinsic factors (travel and train environment), roles in sports organizations (role conflict), climate and structure, interpersonal demands (lack of support) and also performance development issues. These types of organizational stresses are thought of to have the most impact on sports performance. Personal stresses are thought of as stresses that precisely have a correlation to personal life events.
The two stresses that author Andrew Wood points out are lifestyle and financial sues (Wood, 1). Sometimes it is hard for a player to compete to their full potential when their mind is focused on relationships or money issues. According to Sports Psychology, total stress load is composed of a formula: Lifestyle Stress + Training Stress + Emotional Stress + Competition Stress = Total Stress Load (Outlook, 3). If an athlete can be aware of their total stress load, he/she can have the chance to control it and avoid the complications of over-stress.
It is common for an athlete to be able to withstand more stress than the average person because of the continuing pressure that they must reform under. While it is common to withstand more stress, there have been many cases in which the player is trying to go to hard when training and can lead to a higher total stress load. Expanding on lifestyle stress from the previous paragraph, this type of stress deals with an athlete and economics. It is hard for a player to be able to train and perform if they are facing financial debts.
It is important for athletes to take time in a part time job so that they do not have to deal with the burden of constantly worrying about money and can train at the same time. Emotional stress can pay a toll on any athlete if not handled correctly. Players dealing with emotional stress typically have no control over it. It is essential for an athlete to try and deal with this type of stress by training and not during a game. This takes us to training stress and how it affects a players performance. Players must adapt to training stress and take it one step at a time.
When implementing a new training strategy it is critical to make sure each training session is quickly followed by recovery. If a player does not recover correctly, it will cause more stress on the athlete ND cause a decrease in efficient production. Last, but perhaps the most important type of stress in a total stress load is competition stress. It is easy to deal with when the team is winning, but it is necessary to be able to deal with the stress that accumulates after losing a game. Sports Psychology believes that, “Being able to handle failure and come back again is the most valuable lesson sport can teach you” (Outlook, 8).
Many athletes have troubles finding ways to ease pressure and various techniques to cope with the stress that is produced by sports. According to Stress, Sports and Performance, Developing coping techniques is the most crucial element in balancing stress levels so that they optimize instead of inhibit performance level” (Sings, 6). When dealing with the stress Of competition, it is important to try four different ways to help ease that stress: positive self-talk, muscle relaxation, visualization, and deep breathing.
Positive self-talk can help an athlete gain confidence in his/her performance by blocking out negative thoughts. Muscle relaxation is perhaps one of the biggest ways to help cope with stress for athletes. By flexing a group of muscles tightly for about 5 seconds it can lease tension and stress from the player. The use of visualization when dealing with stress can be best described in the movie “Happy Gilmore”. When getting angry and stressed out, Happy uses visualization to cope with the pressure and stress of winning the tour championship and getting his grandmother’s house back.
He closes his eyes and visualizes what is known as his “happy place” and allows him to relieve the stress built up and focus on winning the prize. Deep breathing is typically done when using muscle relaxation as well. It is vital to find a quiet place and inhale slowly through the nose. Another coping method that might help with athletes is goal setting. “Goal setting is another important system as making realistic short-term goals prevents one from getting overwhelmed, which can result in a loss of focus.
Having realistic expectations is the only way one can eventually reach one’s long-term goals” (Sings, 6). It is much easier for athletes to focus on winning one game at a time opposed to Only thinking about winning the championship game. Similarly, have had multiple personal experiences when dealing with stress and sports. One instance that I can think of was preparing for a championship name that I had not even participated in. My high school basketball team was relatively better than most of the other ones around my area so we were all set on making it to the championship game.
After starting the season with zero wins and three losses, we began to feel the stress and pressure brought onto us as critics in the area started drilling our team with questions about our confidence. As a result, our total stress load was increased dramatically after having the expectations of winning the championship diminished to stressing about even making it to the playoffs. My team and had to aromatically change our approach to this season. Instead of focusing on even making the playoffs, we needed to change our attention to getting one win at a time.
Some of our players became so focused with improving their game that they lost sight of the goal for the team. I unfortunately was one of these players. I began to train vigorously and as hard as could to the point that it was only adding more pressure and stress upon myself. This stress that I put on myself was the same as others on the team and as a result, there would be tension and arguments amongst each other because our team was not successful as we all thought it would be. This stress continued to cut into our performance as we would go on to lose the following two games to drop us at 0-5.
As a team, we decided that we needed to focus on finding ways to reduce our stress and gain our cohesiveness back to the team everyone thought we would be. Doing group activities such as going to the movies and having team dinners allowed us to not focus on basketball as much as our chemistry between the team. We would also participate in other exercises like conscious relaxation and yoga to help relieve the stress within ourselves. These coping methods for myself and the team as a whole helped tremendously in our performance on the court.
After forgetting about even making it to the playoffs and focusing on playing together one game at a time, we were able to go on a tear to finish the season with a 20-8 record. Once we had made the playoffs, the team decided to continue the activities we were doing to keep our stress and hormones under control. Without the help of these coping methods, I honestly don’t think that we would have done as well as we did. Unfortunately, our season came to an end in the second round of the layoffs, not because of the stress and pressure put on us, but simply because we got outplayed.
We were obviously disappointed at the result of our season, but we were okay with losing because the other team played better and not the fact that we let the stress and pressure get to us. In conclusion, stress can have a major contribution in determining an athlete’s performance both on and off the court. Stress is the body response to anything that disrupts normal routines and life. Due to various amounts of stresses, it is easy for an athlete to feel pressure not just on game days, but on a daily basis.
Stress can be mentally and physically draining to an athlete if not handled the appropriate way, therefore begins to raise a players total stress load higher than it should be. By understanding what exactly stress is and what types of stresses are present in an athlete, he or she can discover effective coping methods to help reduce a player’s total stress load.