The Importance of Relaxation in Athletic Performance
Athletes who suffer from anxiety or any such stressful condition are less likely to perform at their optimal level in comparison to those who are able to maintain a state of relaxation. I make this claim in acknowledgement of numerous research on the subject and in response to Banter Hosts, Michael Midget Pierre’s news item yesterday which highlighted relaxation as one of the strengths of track athletes trained by Glen Mills of Jamaica who is credited with the emergence of the Olympic Champion Usain Bolt. The truth of the matter is that many sports administrators, team managers and even coaches do not fully understand the critical role of relaxation in an athlete’s day to day performance.
Let me first point out that performance anxiety, which is that adrenaline rush before the commencement of a performance, is not the only stressor which affects performance. Relations with the team coach, manager and technical staff as well as other external factors such as sleep, nutrition and other personal matters can also interfere with athlete comfort and adversely affect the output on any given day. This being said we can now examine the effects of stress or lack of relaxation on the body. These include
1. Fear that we experience prior to a performance usually referred to as stage fright.
2. A lack of confidence due to fear that the task ahead may seem beyond the athlete’s ability. This feeling of apprehension will affect the ability to concentrate…….this reminds me of the player/management disputes in the West Indies Cricket Team over the years.
3. Increased body heat resulting in increased perspiration and faster rate of dehydration.
4. Increased heart rate which can lead to shortness of breath and even dizziness.
All of these factors can negatively impact the body’s ability to generate the required energy supply as well as one’s ability to maintain rational thought processes so vitall in decision making. To make a long story short the athlete who is not in a comfort zone will show significant decline in all aspects of performance.
I have been championing the cause for better treatment of and support for athletes both on and off the field of play and in both the training and the competitive environment. In too many instances training and development programmes fail to address athlete nutrition, first aid and care, safety, mood and attitudinal problems and relationships between players and management officials. The traditional approach of providing basic equipment and uniforms must become obsolete if we are to gain any significant progress in sports development. Community, Club, School and National Levels must all adopt the same basic template which places the athlete at the top of the priority ladder and caters to all elements of individual’s development.
Happy people bring happy results. Happy athletes make better performers there is no denying that fact.