No matter what level you are in sports, to do your best in all areas (including but not limited to your performance), you need to contend with stress. There is good stress, like the joy of finally being able to buy a house and bad stress, like handling all the paperwork and financing that goes along with it.
In the athletic sense, stress really should not be viewed as a negative. You have non-training stress and training stress, and knowing how these types of stress affect your body, mind, energy, hormones, and performance, holds the key to your future successes.
As you may have guessed, non-training stress comes from the things that sprout up in your life that have nothing to do with getting in the game. It might be your regular 9 to 5 job, trouble at home, financial concerns, or a number of other challenges. This type of life stress needs to be managed though as it can negatively affect your endocrine system.
Stress tends to send cortisol, the stress hormone, along with testosterone, off the charts. It is what gives you the fight-or-flight response you’re born with. An imbalance in these hormones affects any training you’ve done to this point. You need to cope with stress efficiently to manage your hormones otherwise all that work you’ve done will go to waste in your performance.
Athletes also find themselves with training stress that comes from physical activity. This is a good kind of stress though that can shake up cardiovascular, hormonal, and musculoskeletal systems for better performance. However, it requires fine-tuning and balance as with too much, you can over-train and wind up with an injury.
Now that you know what stress is doing to your performance, you can put that knowledge to good use. Reduce stress in your life by taking time for yourself. Meditate, work in some yoga, stretch, read, and do whatever makes you feel like yourself again.
As for training stress, know when you’re exceeding your limitations. Getting there is really the best part of the journey in sports. With everything, there needs to be balance so you can truly tip the scales in your favor and win at your game when the time is right to strike.