Muscle Sport Magazine

Stress and Sports: Tips for Dealing with Performance Pressure


Professional athletes in America are placed high on a pedestal. Once you reach a certain level of success, the pressure is on to continually outperform yourself to appeal to your audience. One injury could end your career before it ever gets started. One mistake during the game that causes a loss and endorsement deals to go down the drain, bench time increases, and your popularity fades.


Falling Under Pressure


That’s a lot of pressure to deal with. While some athletes flourish without an issue, others become so mentally bogged down with all the stress that they begin to make ineffective decisions. They begin making careless mistakes during games and practices, taking performance enhancers, acting out in public, getting in trouble with the law, abusing painkillers to recover faster, and even turning to drugs and alcohol as a means to cope emotionally.


Get Help Now


If you’ve found yourself in this state there’s nothing wrong with getting assistance.Windward Way can help, for example, with your substance abuse or addiction recovery. A personal trainer can help you get back on a positive fitness routine to boost your performance naturally. Also, a therapist can work with you on how to cope with chronic stress and pressure so you can resume a career doing what you love.


Releasing the Pressure


There’s a lot weighing on the shoulders of athletes. Trying to perform at their best at all times while also trying to appeal to their sports organizations and fans is a lot of work. In reality, no one is perfect, but in the eyes of fans, pro athletes are heroes that can do no wrong. For sports organization execs, it’s all about what’s trending and what will make them the most money.


When you feel as if your level of success and worth are always being judged by others, it’s a lot to deal with. The best thing you can do for your physical and mental health is to start doing some preventative maintenance. Below, are a few steps to take next:


Pinpoint and Reduce External Pressures


What or who is making you feel the most pressure? This could be your parents, siblings, significant other, fans, coaches, teammates, or the media. While you’re unable to control their words or actions, you can manage your relationships better with them as it pertains to your career to reduce the pressure you’re experiencing.


Talk with your friends, significant other, or relatives about how their actions or words are pressuring you. Do so in a kind manner as they may not be aware of how this is making you feel. Then, ask them to refrain from that type of behavior in the future. If they care about you, this should be an easy fix.


Do the same with your coach. Talk with him or her about the pressure they’re putting on you. Though you’re aware they just want you to be the best athlete possible, you are only human and deserve to be treated as such.


As for the media, you have some control over this. When taking interviews to refrain from talking about negativity or things that make you feel more pressured. There’s no need to gloat or talk about how you’ll conquer other teams, etc. as this only adds to your stress. When negative questions are asked, find positive ways to spin them. You can also leverage social media to get your story out and change your image for the better.


Find Ways to Cope with Pressure


Unfortunately, pressure comes with the territory of being an athlete. While you can’t get rid of it completely, you can learn better ways to cope so you don’t end up turning to substances or negative behaviors. When you feel yourself getting overly stressed or anxious there are plenty of things you can do to recenter your energy and calm down.


You can take a long bath in a jacuzzi after a big game. Get regular massages to relieve the tension in your body and relax your mind. Meditate for 15 minutes in the morning and before bed. You can vacation with loved ones during your offseason. Just find things that can keep you calm despite the pressure.


The weight of the world is on the shoulders of an athlete. When you reach a certain level of professionalism and success, it can seem like mistakes are forbidden and you somehow have to become superhuman to appeal to the masses. Though this type of pressure comes with the sport, you do have some control. Instead of making ineffective decisions that can ruin your future, learn how to reduce external pressures and cope with the stress in a positive way.

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