It is common knowledge that people get stressed, any one person can suffer stress for numerous different reasons; work, studies, social situations, family situations, and in this case competitive training. Athletes can become stressed just as easily as anyone else, more so in some cases depending on the time and situation, for example, balancing; training, studies, social interaction and family, can be difficult to an individual, so how can we help?
According to Calmeiro, L., Tenenbaum,G., Eccles, D, W., (2014) elite athletes will be more likely to use negative appraisal in stressful situations than any other coping mechanism, when compared to non-elite athletes. This can have a potentially detrimental effect on performance if not handled correctly.
People in the best position to help athletes suffering from stress are their trainers/coaches, due to the proximity and time spent with the athletes. Dawson, M, A., Hamson-Utley, J, J., Hansen, R., Oplin, M., (2014) concluded that injured athletes who have spent time away from training can be prone to stress upon return to activity, often cause by the frustration of not being able to complete training the same way prior to injury. They had also found that one of the most effective ways to aid the return to full time activity would be to use relaxation techniques; this can positively encourage cognitive appraisals to performances. Trainers and health care professionals, however, should be competent to indentify; when and how to use such techniques, particularly with female athletes.
Belem, I, C,. Caruzzo, N, M,. Nascimento jnr., J, R, A, d,. Vieira, J, L, L,. Vieira, L, F,. (2014) suggested as a practical application to their findings, coaches encourage the use of coping mechanisms, aiding athletes in indentifying challenges so that, even if mistakes are made, the negative impact to the athlete is reduced. Also challenges then become something to overcome as opposed to something that is to be approached with caution reducing the stress an athlete may suffer otherwise. According to Belem et. al (2014) this can aid in the production of more resilient attitude towards training and competition increasing the athletes overall performance.
A review conducted by Tamminen, K., Crocker, P, R, E., (2014) looked into previous research conducted in the field of stress management and found that although it is a very relevant area of performance enhancement more research needs to be done. However, a model in coping, suggesting a process to aid in the alleviation of stress, produced in 2010 by Schinke, R.J., Tenenbaum, G., Lidor, R., & Battochio, R.C., was discussed as being over simplified and misleading encouraging athletes to focus on the emotional cause of stress which is now advised against.
Research above suggests that athletes and trainers need to work together to identify what has caused the stress, and use appropriate coping mechanisms such as; relaxation, and goal setting. It should be noted that if the stressor is not dealt with properly it can have a detrimental effect on the athlete’s performance and can in some cases cause a knock on effect. However when using coping mechanisms those conducting the activity should able to adequately apply and utilise the technique put into place. Once the stress is dealt with athletes should be encouraged to think differently about problems changing the mind set can change the reaction, leading to a more productive performance and a more resilient attitude towards training and competition.