How does playing sports affect the mind?

Alexka Carrasco 11vo

I’m a volleyball player, not a professional but I consider myself somewhat an athlete and let me tell you, my mentality has changed. I have learned to synergize with my peers in a way I never thought possible. I don’t lack focus and concentration anymore. My way of thinking has expanded, and I analyze everything with more depth and meaning. Overall it has drastically
improved my persona. Volleyball requires a lot of attentiveness and accelerated reflexes, which I didn’t have.

So, why do you change as a person? And don’t get me started on the stereotypes, which are for the most part true. Some athletes have a certain “cocky” attitude, which sometimes comes off as a bit much. Now, this is the preponderance case with the MVPs and the other star players. To get you guys a more detailed explanation of how sports affect the mind, I consulted with our New Horizons sports psychologist Melissa Pol.

What she conveyed with me and I quote was, “The power of the mind in sports performance has been marked for years. Sport shows that you can teach important life lessons, such as teamwork, overcoming challenges, controlling emotions. The fact that competing is always associated with high levels of stress and anxiety, and when they are very high they can begin to be negative for our well-being, takes away the fun of the sport and hinders our performance, causing some frustration for the poor performance.” Here she says that sports often lead to competitiveness on an unhealthy level, which makes us prone to lose sight of what’s really important. It is not always easy to control things when our only goal is to win.

She continued to tell me that “An overload of opinions or comments by the people around us, can make the athlete even want to leave the sport freeing from the pressure that makes him feel bad instead of supported by his loved ones. Athletes can become very demanding of themselves, that if at a certain moment they do not know how to balance, they can have negative
consequences on their mental well-being, since they begin to self-press, leaving aside perhaps other issues that are a priority, focusing only on that sport. They immerse themselves in that single goal, neglecting other aspects of their life that in the end only cause a deterioration at the mental and even physical level, in case there is no real rest on the part of the athlete.”

So her opinion is that sports can have negative effects on athletes when they expect too much from themselves and end up unbalancing their life. Too much pressure from our coaches, parents, and partners, can definitely cause this. It’s not that wanting to be at your best is a bad thing, it’s that you cannot push your limits. You should want to excel, but not harm yourself in
the process. In conclusion, sports sometimes make athletes push themselves, and not for the better. You just have to try to not lose yourself when trying to achieve your goals. Change your mindset and know your limits. Sports are awesome, and they can be so healthy and stress-relieving for the mind, don’t ever let that change.

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