It is not easy to be a professional athlete. Not only are the physical demands greater than most people can tolerate, athletes also face severe psychological stress during competition.
That’s the thing about 18-year-old British tennis player Emma Raducano He wrote about it on social media followed by Retire from Wimbledon. Although the young player was doing well in the tournament, she began to have difficulty regulating her breathing and heart rate during the match, which she later attributed to an “accumulation of excitement and noise”.
She’s not the first female athlete to suffer the physical effects of stress, with English footballer Marcus Rashford Revealing that he also had a similar experience in the past.
I happened to play for the national under-16 team against Wales. I remember him to this day. There is no explanation for it and it never happened again. You should be proud of yourself. The country is proud of you. Glad to read your feelings better. forward and up 🎾🏴 https://t.co/sokkubBlLN
– Marcus Rashford MBE (@arMarcusRashford) 6 July 2021
There are many reasons why stress causes strong physical reactions. But with training, this response can be altered so that the person reacts positively under stress.
Performance pressures are almost inevitable. But there are many different factors that dictate how Minds and bodies respond for stressful events.
Typically, stress is the result of a trade-off between two factors: demands and resources. A person may feel nervous about an event if they feel that the demands on them are greater than they can handle. Therefore, for the athlete, the demands include the high level of physical and mental effort required to succeed, levels of uncertainty about the event or their chance of success, and any potential risks to their health (such as injury) or their self-esteem.
On the other hand, resources are the ability of a person to deal with these demands. These include factors such as levels of confidence, how much control they think they have over the outcome of the situation, and whether or not they are looking forward to the event.
Each new request or change in circumstances affects whether a person responds positively or negatively to stress. Usually, the more resources a person feels they have in dealing with a situation, the more positive their stress response will be. This positive stress response is known as a . challenge case.
But if a person feels that there are too many demands on them, the more likely they are to experience a negative stress response – known as a threat state. Research shows that challenging states lead to good performance, while threat situations lead to poor performance.
So in Raducanu’s case, a much larger audience, higher expectations and a more skilled opponent may have all made her feel there were greater demands on her – but she didn’t have the resources to deal with them. This led to it Facing a threat response.
Consequences of stress
Our responses to challenge and threat fundamentally influence how our bodies respond to stressful situations, as both affect Production of adrenaline and cortisol (Also known as “stress hormones”).
During a challenged state, adrenaline increases the amount of blood pumped out of the heart and dilates blood vessels. This is beneficial for the body, as it allows adrenaline to deliver more energy to the muscles and brain. This increase in blood and decrease in pressure in the blood vessels has always been associated with higher athletic performance in everything from cricket battingAnd the golf mode And the Execution of punishment.
But during a threatened state, cortisol blocks the positive effect of adrenaline, which leads to narrowed blood vessels, high blood pressure, and slower psychological responses (such as poor decision making) and a high heart rate. In short, a state of threat makes people more anxious—make worse decisions and perform worse.
However, anxiety is also a common experience for athletes when they are under stress. Anxiety can increase heart rate and sweat, cause heart palpitations, muscle tremors and Shortness of breathAs well as headaches, nausea, stomach pain, weakness, and the desire to escape more severe cases. Anxiety can also reduce focus and self control (such as the ability to remain calm), and causing overthinking.
The severity of a person’s anxiety depends on the demands and resources they have. Anxiety may also appear in the form of agitation or nervousness depending on the stress response.
But there are many ways that athletes can ensure that they respond positively under stress. Positive responses to stress can be enhanced by encouraging emotions confidence and control Through the language we and others (eg coaches or parents) use. Psychologists can also help athletes change the way they see physiological responses Like helping them see a high heart rate as excitement rather than nerves.
Psychological skills – like visualization It can also help reduce our physiological responses to threat. This may include Create a mental picture At the time the athlete has performed well, or imagines himself in good shape in the future. This can help create feelings of confidence and control over the stressful event.
Competitive re-pressurization during training can help athletes learn how to do it Dealing with stress. An example of this might be athletes scoring against their peers to create a sense of competition. This will increase players’ experience requirements compared to a regular training session, while allowing them to practice dealing with stress.
So it is possible to learn how to get a better reaction stressful situations. Learning this skill may be one of the many reasons why athletes are able to perform many of the accomplishments they do.
Andrew WilkinsonPhD candidate in sports and exercise psychology, Get free picture make up dozens of free wallpapers And the Jimmy ParkerSenior Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Psychology, Get free picture make up dozens of free wallpapers
Top photo: Emma Radocano was forced into retirement after experiencing breathing difficulties. Environmental Protection Agency – EFE