How to manage the competitive stress

The events of high-level sports highlight the necessity of managing stress. The stress of Massimiliano Allegri, the mental fatigue of Atalanta, the stress of those still needing to qualify for the Olympics, and the teams across various disciplines playing in playoffs are just a few examples.

The stress from difficult, long seasons in highly competitive environments generates all kinds of psychological difficulties that athletes must learn to overcome to continue their journeys successfully. It might seem trivial to emphasize the importance of psychological recovery; of course, it is not, but this practice is not as widespread among athletes as it should be.

I would say that relaxation and visualization should be two techniques integrated into an athlete’s daily life. It should be noted that relaxation leads to:

  • Better physical recovery
  • Better sleep
  • Freer and less stressful thoughts
  • Greater ability to distance oneself from daily events
  • Ability to recover quickly from stressful situations

Imagination, on the other hand, leads to:

  • Ability to immerse oneself in competitive situations
  • Better ability to focus on the present
  • Ability to stop thoughts that hinder performance
  • Better contact and awareness of one’s emotional states
  • Ability to shift from thoughts/emotions that hinder performance to those that enhance it

In essence, anyone experiencing significant and meaningful competitive situations should train psychologically in this way to avoid the risk of suffering from stress without having acquired the skills to reduce it. Unfortunately, many athletes still do not understand the value of this type of training. This often happens due to superficiality, closed-mindedness, fear of staying in touch with themselves, superficiality, and the presumption of already knowing how to handle it on their own.

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