Part three of the most common issues athletes face. The issues of stress and anxiety are between the most common challenges that can lead not only to performance issues, but also to serious blocks in the personality of the individual.
The first area where stress hits is the performance area. Anxiety can have-and usually does- an impact on athletic performance. It is a negative factor if not understood and dealt with in a way that it does not block the flow of potential.
Research has shown that there are three main factors that are responsible for stress in humans:
–Lack of information
–Loss of control
How do these factors apply to the athlete’s experience?
Well, uncertainty can arise from either own performance, or from the environment. One can feel is not prepared enough, adequate for the task, or face other issues with self-image. Past negative results can also play a role in one feeling anxious about his/hers performance. As far as the environment is concerned, uncertainty can be experienced when some opponents seem too good to face whether it be because of their results or promotion by media or others. Also, the environment(press,social media, others around) can enhance feelings of inferiority thus provoking stress, by talking negatively or focusing on negative aspects.
Lack of information refers to not having adequate training methods and support by coaches and training staff, including family and friends. Even if those factors are in place as they should be, a lack of information about one certain opponent, tournament, or race, can bring about feelings of stress.
Of course, the way and intensity one experiences these with, is related to the individual’s personality.
That goes for all the above. What stresses one, may not be of significance to others.
Loss of control means that the athlete is put in a spot where they are not in control of the whole process. From training programs, game outcome all the way to media issues, sponsor’s requirements and social media discussions about one’s performance or choices. It is not unusual for an athlete to get lost in all the situations that take place around their performance and not always is an athlete in complete control of everything.
This has levels, but the higher an athlete arises, the more complex it gets. While for the outsider it may seem the opposite, but the athletes on the highest level face these issues in a far greater intensity than the amateur/lower level athletes.
Sometimes it does seem that an athlete is on their own facing the whole world.
There are expectations not only from their closest environment, but also from a vast number of people, fans and followers. If one does not have safety mechanisms in place to deal with all this, a vicious circle begins, affecting performance which in turn affects the personality and this process can have devastating results.
In any form, at some point, an athlete will face stress. In a way it is normal, it comes with the task.
It is how they manage it, that makes all the difference in the world.
An unsuccessful management will follow the individual for years and long after the playing days are over.
My advice would be to deal with everything in time.
The moment something arises, it is game time! It is for a reason that it popped up now and the reason is that you must fight it now. Everything that is left for dealing at a later date, will eat you from within and it will only get bigger.
As I say, the first step is understanding that you are not alone in this!
Someone has already been through it and paved a way that can lead you…