Every athlete encounters stress in some form. Stress affects everyone differently and there are certainly times when stress levels are through the roof for players. At times, stress can take over a large portions of players lives. Stress related to sports comes in many forms and is not limited to failure. Most people associate stress with tough times and also when things aren’t going according to plan. However, in reality, stress can form during times of success and growth as well. Let's talk through a few different ways players, coaches and trainers can help alleviate stress this summer leading to the regular season.
Preparation and scheduling
One easy way to eliminate stress is through preparing properly for training and games. Players should also make sure they plan out a summer schedule to maximize their training while also not overloading their activities. Oftentimes in the summer, players are rushed around from location to location and never have time to settle in or prepare for the activity at hand. This increases stress levels for parents as well but can be avoided with proper scheduling. It’s not always possible to give yourself extra time in between training, practice or other activities, but it’s essential to try. Give players time to digest the things they are part of throughout the summer. This includes athletics and crosses over to their personal relationships with friends and family. Doing this will allow them to keep a positive, clear mind.
Taking time to sit down and talk with players is crucial. Life can get hectic and is often fast paced. Sometimes we forget to take the time to have deeper and more meaningful conversations with our kids or players. Set a goal to engage in a meaningful conversation at least once a week. In those conversations, talk about pain points they may have, positive things that happened the week prior, or even things they are excited about in the near future. These conversations will help players release feelings and emotions that can get built up over time. Powerful relationships are created this way and players are more likely to trust parents and coaches during tough times. As parents and coaches we ask and require our kids to do so much and a great way to help them maximize their potential is to simply building trust and connecting through conversations with them.
The pressure to be successful and maintain success is one of the most common sources of stress. It's easy to get stressed when things aren’t going your way, players aren’t reaching their potential, or your team is struggling. There is an equal amount of stress that comes with expected success as well. The pressure to be great or not make mistakes can make players and coaches alike frustrated. This is the complete opposite of how we should feel when success is achieved. One way to eliminate this stress is to mentally prepare for it in simpler ways. This includes setting attainable goals in the summer and off season. A great way to set goals is through the SMART goals method.
Making sure your goals align with each of these will help players plan and achieve their goals. Goal setting helps build resilience and a strong mental capacity to take on success and failure. As players succeed, set more challenging goals for them and your team. This isn’t an overnight thing but once it’s established at home or within a program it will pay dividends over time.
Remember, goals do not need to be limited to shots made or taken. These goals can be centered around accountability in the classroom and of the court as well. Take all these ideas into consideration and choose which fits best for your kids or your program. Continue to add and adjust as you go and by doing this you’ll help create a positive less stressful environment!
Stress is going to come up from time to time but having the proper tools and support will help athletes alleviate and handle their stress in a healthy way.
For more tools on how to level up your training this and have a successful summer check out our basketball resources!