How Does Stress Affect Sporting Performance?

Stress affects sporting performance in both negative and positive ways. In the right amount, stress helps an athlete perform optimally. When under too much stress, an athlete may develop performance anxiety, which is detrimental to overall health and restricts the athlete's ability to compete in a relaxed, confident and focused manner.

Eustress is the positive type of stress. It stems from the challenge of taking part in sports that are enjoyable but difficult. This type of stress motivates an athlete and provides a healthy spark for sports performance.

Distress is the negative type of stress. It arises when an athlete must adapt to too many negative demands. Continuously struggling with distress can exhaust an athlete's energy and drive to perform at a high level.

Several things can help an athlete cope with stress. First, he should eat and sleep well, especially before a game or match. He should also learn and practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, muscle relation, visualization and positive self-talk. Additionally, an athlete should engage in some type of physical activity other than the sport he is currently involved in. Finally, an athlete should not expect perfection or dwell on mistakes. Every athlete makes mistakes from time to time.