Young Athletes And The Effects Of Anxiety

It’s important to understand that arousal about competitions and anxiety are not the same. The levels of arousal in a game like Basketball can determine the amount of success a player can experience working the bar, either high or low.

Depending on how high or low arousal levels are, and how well the player can handle it will ultimately determine the outcome of the competition. Many basketball players have fallen apart right before their competition as they were unable to handle the anxiety that unfortunately comes with any sport. It’s impossible not to feel anxious when taking part in sports, but it’s important to get a handle on emotions before they spiral out of control.

Pre-competition anxiety is very common, and there are a few methods seasoned athletes choose to use:

  1. Re-focusing thoughts
  2. Pushing the thoughts to the back of the mind
  3. Outright letting the thoughts flow into the open


Techniques For Proper Relaxation

There are several signs such as labored breathing, poor motor skills, and rising blood pressure that clearly point to a player developing negative arousal. Such negative anxiety can have a severe impact on an athlete’s level of performance as he or she will be unable to sleep properly at night or still worse, not get quality sleep. Any player knows that if this happens, it’s important to get a handle on emotions by choosing to use a few relaxation techniques for the mind.

To start the relaxation, lie down and ignore the thoughts surfacing in your mind. A darkened room can help during the visualization, and you can start relaxing from the bottom on up until the entire body feels at ease. Active and tranquil thinking can help remove the negative thoughts and lower the blood pressure and heart rate, eventually resulting in a calmer athlete.

Many athletes also choose massage therapy as a way of reducing anxiety and releasing toxins from the body. Massage is great to employ before competitions, but a player can benefit from it long-term by visiting a massage therapist once a week.


Redirecting The Thoughts

Most athletes are young, so they’re either attending high school or college. With school comes academic responsibility that may be hard to keep up with, but can certainly help athletes control anxiety. In fact, focusing on turning in high-quality schoolwork and preparing for tests can remove anxiety associated with sports.

This tactic is also true when reversed! Most athletes find schoolwork to be responsible for some of their anxiety, but when mid-terms roll around, weight lifting can help remove the stress associated. Working out offers the perfect escapism from that terrible test, essay, or the long hours in the library.

Any professional coach should and does understand that academic studies are just as important as the sport. If students are forced to fall behind in school as they’re training too hard, it can create negativity towards a once-loved sport. Incidentally, most coaches are also teachers. Therefore, they understand the responsibility that students are facing. That means they will encourage good grades and allow some slacking when exams roll around.

Many athletes attend competitions out-of-town, but to get there, they choose to carpool. Not all athletes do well in a carpool, and that’s because they focus too much on the competition. Anxious athletes may start to talk about the what-if’s and that can be dangerous! Athletes fitting that type of a personality may do better traveling alone and employing relaxation techniques while listening to calming music on the way to the meet.

Not all athletes are required to go to attend their competitions, but keeping their minds busy is still integral for optimal performance. Work and household chores are perfect for keeping the mind occupied, but it’s important that the work is not physically draining. Pushing too much work can occupy the mind, but also waste physical energy altogether.

There are some athletes that find going to the movies before competition to be a calming endeavor. This can indeed help re-direct the mind, but it’s important that it doesn’t lead to sleep deprivation. Most good athletes know that it’s important to choose movies that are entertaining, but low in action sequences in order to prevent arousal. Over-stimulation is often a result of action packed films that are theoretically interesting, but lead many athletes to resort to sheep counting to get to sleep.


Facing The Reality Of The Situation

Sometimes, the best way to confront fears and anxiety is to face them head-on. A wise Japanese proverb states that confronting a cyclone by facing it can help cure fears and anxiety. Of course, facing a hurricane is unlikely, but metaphorically, it couldn’t have been said any better! Confronting the reality behind the activity that any athlete chooses to pursue is often the bravest and most reasonable solution to an anxiety problem. Believe it or not, many athletic people, even mountain climbers, are afraid of something, therefore, facing fears can be infinitely empowering. That doesn’t mean athletes need to look a proverbial bear in the mouth or perform insane stunts, but it does mean that understanding fear and knowing how to control it can make a difference.

Anxiety is a natural part of being alive, and whether someone is an athlete or not, he or she is going to be confronted with stress in their daily life. Even seasoned athletes sometimes have nerve-wracking moments where their fears seem to overtake their reasoning sensibilities. Fortunately, older athletes can understand how they can control their emotions properly to ensure that they give the performance of a lifetime during every meet. The one trick that every great athlete uses is to increase directly how much anxiety he or she can take, and work on lowering the pressures of performing well. Once an athlete can do that, he or she can do anything!

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