How can you find out if players are suffering from anxiety?
What are the indicators to realize if players are suffering from anxiety? Our expert psychotherapist and sports therapist gives us some advices.
Anxiety is an activation state natural and physiological, which during evolution has been selected for our survival in dangerous situations. For this reason anxiety isn’t something to fear. It allows us attacking or escaping reactions to face feared situations. In this article will be displayed the indicators to find out if players are anxious.
Anxiety, as an activation state to allow rapid reactions, needs physiological and automatic responses ruled by the autonomic nervous system, composed of the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic one. The first one brings to activation of efficient reactions in dangerous situations, the second one instead, re-introduces a balanced state. These two systems act in specific parts of our body.
What are the signals we have to observe in our players to identify an activation state?
Let’s film a player who has to shoot a penalty kick during the last 3 minutes of extra time in a match with the result at 2-2.
This kind of activation state makes the sympathetic system block the gastrointestinal functions because they’re unnecessary, facilitating the stay of foods and stomach acid in the stomach, and faeces in the intestine. So observe if your athlete goes often to the bathroom or if he’s nauseous or needs to vomit.
Also the body temperature increases, increasing sweat too in order to have good thermoregulation. Observe if your player is sweating when he’s stationary, when the climate does not require it. His palms can be a good predictor and also the colour of his skin gives useful information. Even if stationary, does he have red or unusual patches on his face and neck?
When we are induced by anxiety not only is our body activates itself to allow a physical reaction, but also our thinking accelerates because it has to immediately find a solution to avoid risks and become more careful with dangerous signals.