There has been extensive research into the effect of stress on sports performance; it is widely recognised that some stress can be beneficial but there is fine line between beneficial stress and detrimental stress; in short overly high stress leads to lowered performance:
When overall stress levels are too high symptoms such as anxiety, anger and depression can be commonly experienced and for the athlete this can have a negative impact on performance on both a physical and psychological level; anxiety interferes with focus resulting in missed shots or opportunities to score, even against a weaker opponent and the resulting frustration can quickly develop into anger and inappropriate behaviour (arguing with umpires or referees, insulting other players and even physical aggression) and in this world of social media, images of inappropriate player behaviour can quickly be shared around the world.
Depression often manifests itself as lowered enjoyment and enthusiasm in life, reduced energy and motivation and a tendency to withdraw from family, team-mates and friends; in addition concentration and focus are likely to decrease, whilst negative, black-and-white thinking increase.
Learning to manage stress is therefore important if optimal performance is to be not only achieved, but maintained. Whilst the world is full of potential stressors for everyone, athletes also experience specific stressors in the form of possible burnout, career-ending injury, loss of contract and income, loss of sponsorship, career transition.
Solution-focused therapy can help you learn to lower your stress levels, increase your self-belief and confidence. Sometimes guided visualization and imagery are used to help you to widen your perspective and begin to recognise and focus on your own strengths and resources which you can draw on to find solutions.
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