Back in the day, the biggest thing that stressed us out was whether that sabretooth tiger was going to sneak up on you or not. Whether you’d be able to find food or whether someone was going to steal your food.
We don’t necessarily have those worries, but stress is all over us like flies on dog doodie.
That stress is causing your athlete to play like dog doodie.
Stress to young athletes can come in all forms. Plus, what kids think of as stressful, we as adults would just laugh it. But, at that age it is stressful. They need to learn about stress at some point, process it, so that they can build upon that and handle bigger issues as they get older.
What happens though is your body handles stress, but when it does it is compromising something else. In an athlete’s case, it is his/her ability to perform at optimal levels. When it has to deal with stress, focus is on that and not as much on the athleticism.
That stress can be from anything:
- A couple breaking up.
- Pain in a part of the body, say a broken pinky, is still going to stress you out.
- A cold.
- Deadline for a school project.
- You name it, it will probably stress you out.
But, that isn’t just everything. Now studies are suggesting visual and audio stimulus can affect an athlete negatively.
The color yellow has been known to bother some kickers. Which makes sense because goal posts are yellow. Maybe objects in your line of site or peripheral throw you off.
One coach had to train his sprinter to not look to his upper right corner when he got in the blocks. Looking that way and focusing on an object completely shut his system down for some reason and he’d have an awful start.
One colleague of mine got mugged when he was younger. He got sucker punched from the right side and the last thing he heard before he got decked was, “Are you sure?” The guy had asked him for change and my colleague said he didn’t have any.
When we did a vision test with him, he was strong all around except for that right side peripheral, especially close in. AND he also failed a strength test when the phrase, “Are you sure?” was repeated over and over again.
He had no clue that was causing such a stressor on him. Just imagine if he was an athlete competing. He just thought his ability was his “normal”, but what we proved was that he was operating at below efficiency because of this stressor.
I know that athletes need to be put on some stress so they can handle appropriate situations in games. But, the ones who perform best are the ones who can stay calm and keep things as normal as possible.
So, if your athlete isn’t performing the way you are used to seeing, maybe there is some stressor causing issues. Take some time to dive into it and see what you can do to reduce and/or eliminate that stressor.
The results could be something like you have never seen before.