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Mental Stress & player performance

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Footballers are often treated as icons and virtual superheroes. Seemingly capable of performing miracles while on the pitch, many fans find them to be all but infallible. However, we need to keep in mind that every player is still very human. Therefore, mistakes can be made on occasion. These could be the result of fatigue, poor communication or simply bad luck. We also need to remember that these players are under an extreme amount of stress; particularly those who constantly find themselves beneath the international spotlight. What are some of the effects which stress can have upon the performance of a player and what remedies exist?

More Than Meets the Eye

Stress is rather insidious due to the fact that it tends to build up over time. Players who are placed under constant pressure to perform will internalise these feelings until they rise to the surface; often at inopportune times. Stress can likewise manifest itself in different ways depending upon the player. Some will fail to perform as they should. Others could incur a greater number of intentional penalties while a few might simply burn out.

If left unchecked, stress can even jeopardise an entire season while leaving a player open to sustaining injuries. The unfortunate fact is that the majority of footballers often ignore the early symptoms of stress; claiming them to represent nothing more than pre-game worries or simply their competitive nature. The main issue here is that managers and trainers alike need to know how these situations can be remedied if they hope to create a cohesive and motivated team.

Knowing When to Take a Knee

Taking a step back is the best short-term remedy for stress. Still, this can be nearly impossible for a player who is very passionate about the game. In fact, such an action may even cause more mental duress. This is why it is a good idea to encourage players to find entertaining ways to spend their downtime while not on the pitch. These will naturally vary between individuals. Some may choose exercise. Others could immerse themselves in a good book or play online casino games. The primary intention with these and other strategies is to provide the mind with a bit of rest in order to restore its emotional balance.

In truth, the mental health of players always needs to be taken very seriously. There is a very fine line between pushing an individual to his personal limits and exceeding this threshold simply to enjoy another win. Managers must therefore be able to spot the first signs of mental fatigue in order to restore the equilibrium of their players.

The good news is that stress and anxiety are more recognised than ever before. This signifies that many teams already have mental health programmes in place should a player feel that a problem exists. When we consider how many fans from across the globe follow this fast-paced sport, it is no surprise that players need to take a breather from time to time.

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