Anxiety in Sports
This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.
For my Catalyst Conference topic, I chose to focus on anxiety in relation to sports in teens and young adults. I have personally experienced anxiety when I am competing or playing sports and I know many other people who have dealt with it as well. I wanted to focus on this topic because I think that it is a relatively overlooked issue. Many people suffer from it (whether diagnosed or not), but I think that it does not always get the awareness that it deserves.
Sports and athletics can be as much a mental sport as they are physical. Athletes around the world suffer from feelings of anxiety during times of stress. These are usually characterized by thoughts of fear, poor concentration, loss of confidence, increased heart rate, sweating, feeling butterflies in your stomach, and/or a change in behavior (like nail biting, slouching, avoiding eye contact). Dealing with some anxiety before competing is normal, but it can easily get bigger and turn into something that diminishes an athlete’s performance. The end effect of sports anxiety is usually that the athlete does not perform at their best, which can lead to even more negative thoughts and feelings of fear.
I’ve inserted a Ted Talk here called “Sport psychology – inside the mind of champion athletes” by Martin Hagger because I thought it is a really good resource and illustrates sports anxiety well.
After researching sports anxiety, I realized that there is not a lot of awareness around anxiety in sports. I know that many people, including myself, deal with sports anxiety, but it seems as if people do not seek treatment or do much research as to what they can do to help themselves. I don’t know whether people think sports anxiety is not a serious problem or they think treatment is unnecessary, but I knew that I needed to change this by focusing on awareness of this issue.
I decided that the best way to raise awareness is to create a resource for athletes who suffer from sports anxiety so that they can learn about other people’s experiences and see some strategies for overcoming their anxiety. I created a website that includes an interview with clinical psychologist, Dr. Guy Oram, experiences of people who have dealt with sports anxiety, as well as several tips for overcoming anxiety. I hope that this website will teach people more about anxiety in sports and will encourage athletes to use some new techniques for dealing with anxiety. Click here to go to my website.
On my website, I have also included a link to a survey for everyone to take. It asks about your experiences with anxiety and sports. I plan to publish these results on my website at the end of the Catalyst Conference to give a representation of how many people have dealt with anxiety in sports. I was unable to find this information during my research, so I think this will help give more information to anyone who is interested in learning more about sports anxiety. I have also linked my survey here. I hope that my project will encourage people to start conversations about anxiety in sports, how to deal with it, and how to minimize its effects. As for my next steps, I will be speaking with the head of the Athletics department at my school to encourage them to teach students techniques for dealing with sports anxiety and stress around athletics. I encourage everyone who reads this presentation to do the same!
Click here to view my works cited.