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Mar 29

Dealing with Athletes’ Stress

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This article is attributed to Alex Robinson. It is modified for this article.

It is common knowledge that people tend to get stressed out; anyone may suffer stress for numerous reasons. Athletes can become stressed out as easily as anyone else, more so in some cases depending on the time and situation. Maintaining the balance between training, school, studies, social interaction, and family obligation can be difficult.

Calmeiro, Tenenbaum, and Eccles (2014) compared elite to non-elite athletes in their study. The former are more likely to use negative appraisal in stressful situations, which can have a potentially detrimental effect on performance if not handled correctly. People in the best position to help these athletes are coaches/trainers or sport psychologists due to their proximity and time spent with the athletes. Dawson, Hamson-Utley, Hansen, and Oplin (2014) concluded that injured athletes who have spent time away from training could be prone to stress upon return to activity. This is often due to the frustration of not being able to complete training the same way prior to injury. They had also found that one of the most effective ways to facilitate the return to full-time activity would be to use relaxation techniques. This can positively encourage cognitive appraisals of performances. Qualified professionals, however, should be competent to identify when and how to use such techniques, particularly with female athletes.

Belem, Caruzzo, Nascimento, Vieira, J. and Vieira, L. (2014) suggest a practical application in their findings that coaches should encourage the use of coping mechanisms to help athletes identify their challenges so that the negative impact is reduced – even if mistakes are made. Challenges then become something to overcome as ‘opposed to something that is to be approached with caution’ in order to reduce the stress an athlete may suffer otherwise. According to the authors, this can aid in the production of a more resilient attitude towards training, competition, and overall performance.

A review by Tammie and Crocker, (2014) examined the coping model by Schinke, Tenenbaum, Lidor and Battochio (2010) in the field of stress management, and suggested that more research is needed after the model was deemed too simplified and misleading because it encouraged athletes to focus on the emotional cause of stress, which is nowadays no longer functional. This adaptation theory by Schinke et al. is defined as the end point in a process, when responding in a positive manner to hardship, threat, and challenge, including monumental sport tests such as international tournaments. Recently, investigation on adaptation has been considered as a provisional framework with a more formal structure of pathways. Sport scholars have studied Olympic and professional athletes, and provided support for a theoretical framework, and identified provisional sub-strategies for each pathway. The authors place adaptation within a larger discourse of related interventions, including coping and self-regulation. Subsequently, adaptation is proposed as a comprehensive intervention strategy for elite athletes during monumental sport environments.

Researchers suggest that athletes and coaches/trainers need to work together to identify the causes of stress and use appropriate coping mechanisms such as relaxation and goal setting. It should be noted that it could have a detrimental effect on performance if the stressor is not dealt with properly. Those using coping mechanisms and those conducting the intervention strategies need to be able to adequately apply and utilise the technique put in place. Once the athletes have dealt with the stressor successfully they should be encouraged to think differently about problems and change their mindset to alter their potential reaction. This leads to a more productive performance and a more resilient attitude towards stress in training situations and competition.

 

References

Belem, I, C., Caruzzo, N, M., do Nascimento jun., J. R. A., Vieira, J. L. L., & Vieira, L. F. (2014). Impact of coping strategies on resilience of elite beach volleyball athletes. Brazilian Journal of Kineanthro- pometry & Human Performance, 16(4), 447-455. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://believeperform.com/performance/dealing-with-stress-in-athletes/

Calmero, L., Tenenbaum, G., & Eccles, D. W. (2013). Managing pressure: patterns of appraisals and coping strategies of non-elite and elite athletes during competition. Journal of Sport Science, 32(19): 1813-1820. 10.1080/02640414.2014. 922692. Epub May 30, 2014.

Dawson, M. A., Hamson-Utley, J. J., Hanson, R., & Olpin, M. (2014). Examining the effectiveness of psychological strategies on physiologic markers: evidence-based suggestions for holistic care of the athlete. Journal of Athletic Training. 49(3), 331-337. May-June 2014. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-49.1.09. Epub Feb 3, 2014.

Schinke, R. J., Tenenbaum, G., Lidor, R., & Battochio, R. C. (2010). Adaptation in Action: The Transition from Research to Intervention. The Sport Psychologist. 24, 542-557. December 2010. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Tamminen, K. A., & Crocker, P. R. E. (2013). I control my own emotions for the sake of the team: Emotional self-regulation and interpersonal emotion regulation among female high-performance curlers. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14(5), 737-747doi: 10.1016/j.psych sport. May 2013.

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