Sport Stress Essay Example
Sport Stress Essay Example

Sport Stress Essay Example

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Being involved in various sports has its many advantages for athletes. Not only is this a rewarding activity, but it also helps athletes mentally, emotionally and physically. However, it cannot be avoided that times will come when athletes will feel stressed and pressured. Various reasons such as the need to excel and to meet the expectations of their loved ones, their coaches, and viewers might become difficult challenges.

Athletes feel stressed because of certain stressors such as social pressure, parental pressure, coaches’ pressure, peer pressure, and society; they deal with these through various techniques that include emotion-focused and problem-focused coping strategies and avoidance strategies. Sports are highly recommended for adolescents, especially in the school. The benefits that they can get are various. They can improve their general well-being and health. In addition, many adolescents gain sel


f-confidence and the ability to work with others, especially in teams. Furthermore, athletes are encouraged to excel in what they do.

There were also studies which suggest that involvement in sports can take adolescents away from dangerous vices such as drugs, alcohol, and delinquency (Northern Illinois University, n. d. ). However, despite involvement in sports being a stress-reliever, it can also cause stress among athletes. The following discussions will determine the sources of stress and how athletes can deal with them. Sport Stress Sport stress, or in some cases athlete stress, has been the topic of some studies. Particular interest has been given for sport stress among adolescents.

Interestingly, sports can either be helpful or harmful to the athletes. In other words, sports can have positive or negative impact on the development of adolescents. The positive stress is referred to as eustress, while

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its counterpart is called distress (Stratton, n. d. ). Eustress can provide athletes with “a healthy spark” for any task undertaken. It is considered good for athletes because it comes from the challenge at hand. Thus, it is important for athletes to differentiate between eustress and distress (Northern Illinois University, n. d. ). Athletes can feel stressed through many ways.

These can be categorized in the following: social stress, parental pressure, coaches’ pressure, peer pressure, and the society. Social stress can be experienced by the athletes when they are left to cope with demands, expectations and challenges that the people or culture places on athletes. Although social stress is not equated with negative outcomes such as fear or anger, it is the athlete's response that will determine if the stressor will have a positive or a negative effect. Finally, the athletes' personality traits will also affect as to how they will cope with challenging situations (Burd, n. . ). Parental pressure, on the other hand, can sometimes get the best of athletes. There are times when parents demand too much from their children or are over-involved. This usually results to the parents exerting unintentional pressures on athletes. Various studies were conducted in the past and the results showed that a major source of stress among young athletes was caused by how their parents would react if they did not perform according to their expectations. Furthermore, athletes playing individual sports were more likely to experience stress compared to athletes who play in teams.

One reason to explain this is that athletes who play individual sports solely shoulder the weight of the win (Burd, n. d. ). Coaches’ pressure,

meanwhile, is another influential factor among adolescent athletes. Past researches gave an indication that coaches have an important part to play to make the game an enjoyable experience for the athletes. There are coaches who are too bent on winning that they sometimes overlook their athletes. This can have negative influence on athletes; if coaches want nothing but winning, it might incite a fear of failure among athletes.

As a result, they might resort to cheating or other negative coping strategies just to win. In addition to this, coaches may unintentionally place stress on their athletes when they say something that does not reflect their actions. As a result, athletes may get the wrong message (Burd, n. d. ). In addition to these pressures, there is also peer pressure that athletes have to go through. Peers can be influential in young athletes. It is common knowledge that athletes look to their peers for social support. It is from their peers that athletes seek comparison, social evaluation, belongingness, and friendship.

In some cases, it showed that peers can influence a person to stay in a sport. Furthermore, peer acceptance is shown to be correlated to athletic ability, according to researches. The usual scenario is that when a person is skilled in a particular sport, he is accepted into peer groups. Otherwise, the person can experience loss of self-worth if their peers have negative evaluation of him (Burd, n. d. ). In addition, the society can exert stress on athletes. Despite the fact that most parents and coaches teach the athletes that winning is not the most important thing, the media says otherwise.

However, the media portrays competition as something

akin to enjoyment of sport. According to Burd, young athletes are sometimes made to believe that winning is enjoyment while losing is failure. To amplify this, communications media focus more on the emotion with regards to winning and sadness over losing the game. Thus, the media exerts stress on children (Burd, n. d. ). In addition to this, the media portrays that boys should be aggressive, authoritative and violent just to be considered men. In the same way, the girls are portrayed as sex objects of men.

As a result, young athletes get the wrong idea based on these stereotypes (Burd, n. d. ). How Athletes Deal with Stress Through the years, solutions to alleviate sport-induced stress among athletes were offered to lessen the impact that negative stress can have on athletes. These techniques were categorized into three styles: 1) techniques used to change the situation, 2) techniques to change the meaning of the source of stress, and 3) techniques used to control the negative reactions to the stressful situation.

In addition, researchers further categorized coping behaviors into two: emotion-focused and problem-focused. Other researchers referred to avoidance as another form of coping behavior (Maffulli et al. , 2001, p. 112). Emotion-focused coping behavior includes meditation, cognitive restructuring, and relaxation. These techniques can be used in conditions referred to as static. They can also be used to relieve emotional distress. Problem-focused coping behavior, on the other hand, includes time management skills, and problem solving. These techniques are best used in changing environment.

Past researchers suggest that problem-focused coping behavior is often used in sport competitions (Bartlett, Gratton, and Rolf, 2006, p. 317). Other techniques that athletes use to deal

with stress are approach coping strategies. These are best for overcoming the stressful situation mentally or physically. Athletes can also use these strategies when they perceive that conditions are controllable and they can point out the source of stress. These strategies are also best used when they are capable of communicating with others and have time to solve the problem.

Meanwhile, athletes choose to implement the avoidance coping strategy when they perceive that conditions are beyond their control due to time constraints. Furthermore, avoidance works when athletes' emotional resources are not adequate, or when they do not have much chance to solve the stressful situation (Bartlett, Gratton, and Rolf, 2006, p. 317). Aside from these, there are relaxation exercises that can ease stress such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Athletes can also be instructed to think of happy thoughts as part of visualization and to be on alert for negative thoughts and dispel them (Northern Illinois University, n. . ). In addition to this, these relaxation techniques can reduce the stress load by blocking out negative thoughts or emotionality (Kellmann, 2002, p. 280). Furthermore, it helps that athletes have other things that occupy their time and do not have to do with sports such as reading a favorite book or watching a movie with the family. Some experts have also emphasized the importance of other techniques such as hypnosis, prayer, and biofeedback (Northern Illinois University, n. d. ). Another coping skill that athletes can use to relieve stress is self-regulation.

An athlete with good self-regulation skills can reduce stress and find recovery. As a result, he can stabilize himself without exhausting his resources. At the onset

of competition, the stress level of the athlete may increase. This is despite the decrease in his training load. Stress can conjure from the competition, or trouble with family or social relationships. If stress increases, it might affect the performance of the athlete. In turn, it might result to changes in the athlete's state of overtraining. In other words, increase in stress rate can also influence the athlete's behavior (Kellmann, 2002, p. 80).

Further, it does a lot when athletes' self-determination is promoted. Athletes must first recognize what they want and how or what they feel. In lieu with this, athletes must participate for the promotion of motivation and performance. From professional athletes and coaches, it was determined that promoting self-determination can help athletes in determining the best optimal training load. In some cases, athletes are taught mental training to enable them to become focused on their goals do and to mobilize energy.

Mental training can also help them to relax and recover when the situation calls for such (Kellmann, 2002, pp. 280-281). Social beings cannot avoid from being influenced positively or negatively by people around them. Accordingly, athletes are surrounded by parents, coaches, peers and people who have important parts in shaping their attitudes and values. These people can cause stress on the part of the athletes whether intentionally or not. However, it still depends on athletes on how they will cope with the stress.

This will affect them in perceiving whether the stressor results to positive or negative emotion. Fortunately, there are various coping strategies which depend on situations. Athletes can use emotion-focused strategies such as meditation to alleviate stress when conditions are referred to as

static. Or they may use problem-focused strategies such as problem solving when the situation is in a changing environment. Furthermore, they can use avoidance technique and self-regulation skills. In some cases, promoting self-determination among athletes does wonders.

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