It’s All About Stress Reduction


Often different athletes I work with bring up many of the following issues before a race or competition:

  • Muscular tension
  • Raised heart rate and blood pressure
  • Shallow breathing
  • Upset Stomach
  • Longer than normal recovery times

All of these issues affect performance by causing the athlete to be fatigued earlier and lose strength and energy. So my first question to them is always are you stressed? and the answer is always mixed. Some say yes, some say no, and some are not sure. Regardless of their answer the reality is the athlete is facing some amount of stress. Controlled amounts of stress provides many benefits to the athlete. From the adrenaline boost that our body produces we gain short-term pain killing, increased focus, and a boost of energy. Although when we experience too much stress then the above symptoms occur.

Chronic high stress levels can also lead to many long-term issues such as a weakened immune system and hypertension. Both of these outcomes can be significantly problematic for high level athletes. For example, athletes who train regularly at a high intensity already may have a weakened immune system due to the physical strain they put on their body, with the addition of mental stress there is even more strain being put on one’s immune system. So what should you be doing?

  1. Schedule 20-45 minutes a day of relaxation time (watching TV doesn’t count, make it purposeful relaxation)
  2. Create a simple relaxation routine to use before competition and training/practice
  3. Try to physically and mentally relax after competition and training/practice

Adding in simple yet purposeful relaxation can make a big difference in how you feel and how you perform. Try it today!

More Information On Life Stressors In Sports

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Joe Spano

Joe Spano

Sport Psychology Consultant, Adjunct Lecturer
Joe Spano attended Boston University School of Medicine for his Masters degree in Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine with a focus on sport and exercise psychology. He has done consulting work with athletes, teams, and coaches across Northern New England. He has also spoken about the benefits of sport psychology at various conferences to parents, players, and coaches. While completing his PhD in Health Psychology he currently serves as the Sport Psychology Coach with the MAC/ Bollettieri Tennis Academy and Manchester Athletic Club in Manchester, MA.
Joe Spano


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