A full week of training is completed and the weekend rolls around. 
It's game time.

  • Approaching a game, what sort of thoughts and feelings does a sportsman/sportswoman experience when the pressure to win exists?

 

  • How are these thoughts, ideas, and feelings supported or discouraged through interaction with coaches and/or parents?

 

  • What physical and mental aspects can an athlete walk away with after participation in competitive sports?

 

  • How do the successes and failures within team and individual sports correlate with comprehension of rewards earned vs rewards given? 

 

Are sports meant to be more than just fun?

People participate in sports for a variety of reasons. Subject to an athlete’s age, level, and motivation, these reasons range from mere participation all the way to pursuing a professional dream, in hopes of someday make a living doing what they love.

For those involved in sports, it is worth posing the question, "Why am I playing a sport?"

 

If an athlete plays for the love of the game, a mental state based on performance commonly is
not an issue. 

Guard Your "Why?"
A Leap Into Sports Culture.

On the contrary, when the pressure to win becomes the motivation for an athlete—whether it being self-imposed or stemming from a parent or coach—more than likely, this is an unhealthy situation. (Yes, even for those professional athletes out there).

When an athlete performs well and wins, their teammates, coaches, and family applaud them. The sensation of winning is addicting. The feelings commonly associated with winning can be a sensation of strength, greatness, and invincibility. These emotions and feelings can consume an athlete's mentality. One might think, "Wait a minute, this is a good thing, right?”

What about when the athlete doesn't perform up to coach's, parent's, or teammate's standards? It's quite the opposite. Common emotions athlete's can experience are sadness, anxiety, stress, worthlessness, and even failure. 

 

Neither of these is a solid basis for an athlete to compete, or to stop competing. This is called performance—or results-based mentality. This can lead to a slippery slope of an inconsistent mental state, possibly for years to come.

On the psychological side of sports, it is strongly supported that positive emotions are correlated with positive performance, and negative emotions are correlated with
poor performance. 

Guard your why and do not let a performance-based mentality take the spotlight!

For all athletes out there, it is valuable to understand that performance does not define you as a person! Separating purpose from performance is key and do remember, the choice to walk away is there and always will be there. 

It is true that sports can be an influential building block to understanding the importance of physical fitness and of personal well-being. A fit physical state is directly correlated to a fit mental state.

"train your body, train your mind". This is true, as long as the pressure to win does not outweigh the pleasure to play. This is supported by the concept that a poor mental state leads to a greater susceptibility of physical injuries. 

Sports are also very influential in demonstrating the concept of rewards earned versus rewards given. Athletes, coaches, and parents can agree that sports reveal character. Character is not only significant in a sport, but also in life. Athletes don't have to, and shouldn't continuously compare themselves to their teammates or players on the other team. When successes are achieved individually, and as a team, there is a lesson to be learned. This lesson is that in life, the greatest rewards are those earned. Through hard work, dedication, and preparation, success can be achieved individually and collectively despite obstacles in the way. 

For those who play sports, it is necessary to ask the question, 

"Why am I playing a sport”?  In this answer, reason is found. 

 

When there is reason, there is purpose, and when there is purpose, there is motivation.

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