The vast majority of professional athletes have had to deal with setbacks or situations in their athletic careers that lowered their level of athletic performance. One of these situations is the appearance of stress, anxiety during the competition period. In these cases, overcoming these setbacks is essential to achieving athletic goals.
How it affects stress and anxiety in sports competitions
When we talk about anxiety, we are talking about an emotion, which can be defined as a state of physiological and psychological inadequacy due to a potentially uncertain situation for the individual. this this usually happens because the athlete, while competing, is making a conscious or unconscious assessment of the situation and the circumstances that surround them, These athletes who think that there is a big difference between what the environment demands of them and what they can give, that is to say that they have a negative self-efficacy perception in relation to this situation, they begin to feel stress. Anxiety is one of the symptoms of stress.
This is a fairly common phenomenon in high competition. Professional athletes such as tennis player Rafael Nadal have already crossed periods when your anxiety level during competition was excessive, And this led to a decrease in performance. This is why the presence of sports psychologists in high competition is becoming more and more necessary.
Everyone involved in sport, in which their main role is to prepare and optimize the qualities of athletes, agree that excessive levels of anxiety in competition interfere with performance.
Sports psychologists are professionals who can help improve the performance of athletes. You can read this article to discover the strengths of this profession: “10 reasons to put a sports psychologist in your life”.
Main consequences of stress in competition
The presence of competitive stress and anxiety consequences or symptoms physiologically and psychologically. They are as follows:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased respiratory rate
- Accelerated heart rate
- Increased sweating
- Increased blood sugar and adrenaline secretion
- Upset stomach, dry mouth
- Decreased mental flexibility
- visual distortion
- Doubt in decision making
- Increase in negative thoughts
- Less ability to focus on the action
These both physiological and psychological reactions can be caused by actual gaming situations or by factors surrounding competition, however, it has been shown that it is the athlete himself with his inadequate mental representation in fact what usually causes these states.
Tools to fight against competitive stress
So this proves once again that everything that happens in the body is controlled by our brain. Any variation in our physiological state is associated with changes in cognitive or emotional state, and vice versa.
There are different procedures to combat the stress of competition and therefore improve sports performance.
According to different experts, to relax you can follow two strategies that produce the same effects: moving from the mind to the muscles or from the muscles to the mind. In other words, to overcome this situation which interferes with athletic performance, we can focus our attention on different relaxation techniques to relieve the tension in our mind and body.
In this way we have relaxation techniques which focus on perceiving bodily signals such as muscle tension level:
- Jacobson’s progressive relaxation
- Breath control
- Mindfulness techniques
Or we have relaxation procedures that focus on ideas or images of relaxation, these techniques are called “mind-muscle techniques”:
- Autogenic Schultz formation, Using relaxing thoughts and ideas.
Therefore, improving this relationship between mind and body, having constant emotional stability throughout the competition, ensures the use of all the faculties of the individual within sports competition.
The various tools given in this article help considerably in controlling the high levels of anxiety and stress which cause strong competition.