A full week of training is completed, preparation is done 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?
The truth is: people participate in sports for a variety of reasons. Subject to an athletes 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.
In contrary, when the pressure to win becomes the motivation of 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)
Guard Your "Why?"
A Leap Into Sports Culture.
When an athlete performs well and wins, they are loved by their teammates, coaches, and family. The sensation of winning is addicting. The feelings commonly associated with winning are 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 are sadness, anxiety, stress, worthlessness, and even failure.
Neither of these is a solid basis for an athlete to compete. This is called performance or results based mentality. This can lead to a slippery slope of an inconsistent mental state for years to come.
In 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.
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 always remember that the choice to walk away is there and always will be there.
Is there a better way?
It is true that sports can be an influential building block to understanding the importance of physical fitness and well-being. Many studies correlate a fit physical state directly to a fit mental state. The expression is "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 idea that a poor mental state can lead to a greater susceptibility to physical injuries.
Sports are also very influential in demonstrating a the concept of rewards earned vs rewards given. One thing all athletes, coaches, and parents can agree on is 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.
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.
Guard your why and do not let a performance-based mentality take the spotlight!