The Importance of Understanding Sports Related Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety is made up of cognitive andsomatic components, meaning it manifests in the mind through worrying thoughts, but can also manifest physically. When anxiety manifests in the mind it can cause an athlete to engage in negative self-talk, this could be due to the current scenario or previous scenarios that are in the athlete’s memory bank. In relation to sports anxiety impacts cognitive performance, which is about thinking, decision making, learning, problem solving and reasoning, an athlete in moments of anxiety may forget the team strategy or plays or simply freeze, sometimes this is described as “choking”. In the long term, anxiety can create chronic heart and blood pressure issues and even long-term memory loss. Most sports require some level of physical activity, some more than others, and having a healthy heart is essential to speed, stamina and much more. The fact that stress and anxiety can cause both mental and physical issues means that it has a direct impact on your team. If players lack folks, forget plays and strategy this will be detrimental to your attempt to win. (Casali,N. Ghisi, M. Jansen, P. Feraco.T. & Meneghetti. 2022)

Teams that encourage taking breaks awayfrom the task from time to time in order to review the goals and the current
state, decrease anxiety and stress. Teams that have specific recovery times tend to foster a culture that decreases anxiety and stress. Teams that purposely choose to gain insight into each other’s background, personalities and cultures foster less stress and anxiety. Familiarity about the diversity of those of whom you work with can create a situation in which the individuals feel more a part of the team or a higher sense of belonging. Teams that increase stress and anxiety tend to have higher levels of neuroticism according to a study by the Journal of PLOS. They found during the study, which involved
237 athletes, both male (134) and female (103) athletes that athletes that exhibit less agreeableness and more neuroticism were more subject to anxiety andstress. It is also important to note that the type of sport matters because the challenges and obstacles are different therefore having a different impact on the level, types and state of anxiety. A bowler or golfer isn’t under the same level of physical danger as a boxer, MMA fighter or a football player, so their worries during their specific sports are different. (FordJL, Ildefonso K, Jones ML, Arvinen-BarrowM.2017)