Sources of stress in elite sports players

Sources of stress in elite basketball players.


In this piece we shall take a look at stress, its definition, and its own potential occurrence in the wonderful world of the professional football player. We will examine the possible options and use current literature sources to aid our assertions.

Having done that we shall examine at length the truth of Mr Vasey, a youngster who embarked on a professional football career but did not make it onto the elite circuit. We will look at his personal account for evidence to support or refute our evaluation.

If you read a few of the tabloid newspapers, you could be forgiven for thinking that an elite footballers life is bit more than huge amounts of money, fast autos, a succession of very women and unlimited adulation from mindlessly adoring followers when performing on the football pitch. A number of the more disreputable paperwork could also dwell on a somewhat different (but generally evenly false) facet of their life, the drink, drugs, sordid intimacy romps in hotel rooms and gambling.

The fact of the problem, in almost all cases, is usually that the elite footballer is a finely honed sportsman at the optimum of his training. He is necessary to perform daily in training regimens and in the gym, less frequently on the pitch, and put himself vulnerable to career threatening incidents frequently. All this is performed in the full knowledge that he spent some time working his way up a specialist ladder to a comparatively short screen of elite performance and that we now have always many more hopefuls who are climbing up behind him either ready to thrust him off or to watch him as he falls.

You may respect the intro as somewhat melodramatic, but it is supposed to illustrate the different perceptions that are generally performed about the standards of living of the elite footballer. In this piece we are going to review the tensions and stresses that are commonly experienced by this elite group and also that they (generally) have the ability to handle them.

We also plan to illustrate the theoretical problems confronted by the elite footballer with a real research study of a man, Mr Peter Vasey who has gone quite a distance to becoming one of the elite group and then, for various reasons, which we will discuss, decided not to go after it further.

Stress and Stress management

We all feel that we know what stress is and that we may easily recognise it. It actually demonstrates to be a very difficult item to define as firstly, it is important to distinguish between physical (natural) stress and mental health stress. Both are evidently related but fundamentally different. Secondly, stress is a multitude of different reactions to a multitude of different potential causes.

In this piece we are going to consider the many causes of subconscious stress on elite footballers. With this context we can choose a meaning of stress in an especially useful article by Crampton et al. (1995). She reviews the various meanings of stress.

Hans Selye (1956), a pioneer in stress research, has described stress as "the non-specific response of your body to any needs made upon it" (Kreitner & Kinicki, 1992, p. 597). It really is considered to be an internal point out or a reaction to anything we consciously or unconsciously perceive as a risk, either real or imagined (Clarke, 1988). Stress can evoke thoughts of frustration, fear, conflict, pressure, harm, anger, sadness, inadequacy, guilt, loneliness, or dilemma (Cavanagh, 1988). Individuals feel pressured when they are fired or lose someone you care about (negative stress) as well as when they are promoted or go on a vacation (positive stress). While many individuals believe they must avoid stress to live on much longer, Freese (1976) argues that it's the sodium and spice of life and this to have no stress we would need to be dead.

Selve defines the essential biological interpretation of stress as the Kreitner definition begins to include the possible subconscious elements that make the biological replies. Clarke increases our understanding by considering the psychological responses that can be produced by various stresses and Cavanagh modifies this is further by presenting the concept of negative and positive stress. Freese makes the very perceptive comment that stress is an integral and unavoidable feature of life itself. This particular insight can be studied somewhat further insofar as there are some those who find stress hard to handle (non-copers) and others who appear to positively thrive in nerve-racking situations (copers)

In terms of your footballers under consideration, we must admit that stress can, and does have an impact on performance as we shall discuss (see on). Basic psychological theory shows us that those who are less than optimally stressed may not make enough work to attain their chosen goal whereas those who find themselves overstressed might not exactly be able to concentrate on the duty in hand and perform with their maximum capacity. In either eventuality it is clear that optimal performance is impaired. Evenly it follows that there surely is an optimum amount of stress to achieve perfect performance. In useful conditions, that optimal amount is only really possible to quantify in retrospect, and that is why many would express the work of the team administrator, trainer and trainer as a skill rather than a science.

Haspels (2004) viewed specifically at the degrees of stress in pre- and post-match footballers. Unsurprisingly, he discovered that the highest levels of stress were found pre-match in an International game. One of the standard options of stress in the relaxing subject matter is the cortisol level. Unfortunately physical activity also puts up cortisol levels so one of the major predictors of stress was rendered pointless in this analysis. Haspels also discovered that the players performed best when their stress levels were handled before the game

Work by Anshel (2001) viewed the causes of acute pressure on the playing field and arrived to the rather unusual realization that the major causes of stress in that particular situation was consistently found to be getting what was perceived to be always a bad call from the referee and making a major physical mistake (missed kick etc. ) When these eventualities took place, the athletes worried tended to make negative cognitive appraisals accompanied by an avoidance coping strategy. Exactly the same study also discovered that way coping was mostly seen after positive appraisals. These observations clearly support the transactional coping model. The use of appraisals and coping strategy was directly reliant on the perceived characteristics of the nerve-racking event.

Stress is an inherent part of soccer. It may, partly, be put into by the unrealistic objectives of the mentors, managers and the fans. Every team in the category is told that this season the cup will be ours at the start of the growing season and all working out, playing and desire will be aimed towards receiving it. The reality, of course, is the fact only one team will win it.

Continued stress has been cited as the main reason for many of the younger players (including our analysis subject) for their lack of satisfaction and subsequently giving the game. It really is interesting to note that many options cite youth among the causes of serious stress on the grounds that the youngster may well not yet are suffering from the physical activities skills and coping strategies that the old, more experienced players have. We will not consider this component further as our concern in this piece is primarily the elite footballer who, by meaning, has already mastered his game.

In broad terms, according to Lazarus (1999), dealing with stress consists of a persons conscious attempt at taking care of the requirements and intensity of events regarded as stressful or increasing one's personal resources (e. g. , positive impact, self-confidence, self-control) in attempting to reduce or deal with one's identified stress depth. He also observes that certain of the critical factors in an athletes adoption of a specific coping strategy is their cognitive appraisal of the difficult event or situation. Lazarus amounts up his gratitude of the coping response as an athletes potential to accurately appraise the situation and the subsequent use of a proper coping strategy as the critical factor in explaining an athletes physiological and psychological adaptation to stress in sport.


Our approach to investigation falls into two parts. In terms of the tensions faced by elite footballers and their coping mechanisms, we have consulted, appraised and quoted authoritative books on the subject. In terms of the true problems encountered by Mr. Vasey, we have interviewed him and the results of the interview are appended to the piece as appendix I

Sources of potential stress

Clearly there are always a great many resources of potential stress our hypothetical elite footballer may face. Broadly speaking they can be categorised into:-

Sport related stress.

- Performance anxiety

- Alpha male problems in a team game

- Age

- Competition stress

- Regular motivation

- Exercise dependence

- Consistent levels of fitness

- Damage concerns

- Dietary concerns

- Medicine monitoring concerns

- Premature retirement


- Living up to a recognized lifestyle

- Transient mother nature of income

- Income dependent on continued performance

Publicity related

- Marketing attention

- Family intrusion

- Privateness intrusion

Direct stress-related problems

- Drink

- Drugs

- Marriage problems

- Cognitive functioning

Let us consider each one of these potential tensions in turn

Sports related stresses

Performance anxiety

In a well crafted and comprehensive article, Poczwardowski and Conroy (2002) discuss the strains and coping mechanisms of elite performers. They categorise the many coping mechanisms into 36 sub-categories on the basis of direct interviews. The typical categorisations of problem-focused, emotion-focused, appraisal-focused, and avoidance-focused etc. were amplified and lengthened to cover a greater rang of recognized strategies. For instance "greater motivational changes after failure" was reported by one sportsman as a stimulus to train harder in order not to fail another time.

Stress can affect different sportsmen in different ways. Some appear to thrive and perform well, others find that it's a club to perfect performance. Those elite footballers in the first category don't need any intervention as far as their performance in the game is concerned but an interesting analysis by Solberg et al. (2000) looked at the use of different rest techniques pre- and post performance in elite sportsmen. They found that runners who practised meditation-related rest techniques had their bloodstream lactate levels time for normal quicker than their non-relaxed counterparts. Contrary to expectation however, they found no significant difference in their degrees of pre-exercise anxiety.

Alpha-male problems in a team game

This is an anecdotally reported happening which does not appear to have been investigated from a medical perspective. The typical alpha-male personality type has ended displayed in the elite footballer community. Hostility, quickness, firmness of decision making, freedom and rapid responses are all valued traits of the elite footballer. They are seldom characteristics that are seen in the personality types that are happy performing as an integral part of a team. Sports, by its very mother nature, is played by a team of eleven on the pitch and from the pitch, an extremely much bigger team is engaged. Prima Donna behavior, typical of the alpha-male, cannot be easily accommodated in such circumstances. It might be tolerated so long as the player concerned is delivering the results, but it could be an enormous cause of stress when the results stop being shipped.


Footballers grow older. In terms of these professional use, they time perhaps faster than experts in other domains. There's a very slim window of opportunity to allow them to be at the top of their chosen field. To experience at elite level for more than a decade is considered to be quite unusual. Part of the reason for this is actually the natural ageing process which exists atlanta divorce attorneys other individual, but also you have the ever-present problem of both career intimidating injury and also the huge wear and tear on the joint parts (see on) which can provide rise to significant health impairment in later life.

Turner et al. (2000) examined this problem in some details and their results make impressive reading. Their cohort were all professional footballers. 32% of whom reported having surgery on at least one occasion. Of these, over half possessed leg surgery and a quarter of those got complete joint replacements. 15% reported

having hip surgery with another 9% awaiting surgery.

Others in the group were having non-invasive treatments. Practically half acquired physiotherapy in a single form or another for accidents sustained throughout their profession and over 25 % were having some form of analgesia or anti-inflammatory drugs for pain associated with basketball injuries.

Osteoarthritis (OA) was diagnosed in at least one site in practically 50 % of the respondents and almost all those were sides and knees. Significantly almost 10% were authorized as disabled due to OA and, very significantly, 72% of most respondents arranged with the declaration "I am concerned with how OA may have an effect on my body in the future", clearly a significant way to obtain potential stress. (Barlow et al. 2000)

Although joint problems were, predictably, seen as the most typical pathology, other morbidity was found. Neuropsychological problems were not uncommon, presumably related to shows of concussion or repeated stress such as going the football. 10 of the group reported problems such as storage claims, dizziness and problems.

Sport related problems included early on retirement, enforced reduction in working hours or even a change to a sedentary profession. Not merely can all this be viewed as a significant way to obtain stress to those who are suffering because of computer, but also it must be difficult for the still-active player who may know what may maintain store for him.

Competition stress

This can be an area that is extensively researched. Competition stress can be an enhancer for a few players but evenly it could be an inhibitor for others. There is a distinction to be produced between the trait of nervousness and the status of anxiety which is quite significant and, to a large extent, is a reflection of the ability of the given individual to cope with and handle the strain levels.

Sanderson and Reilly (1983) have the classic analysis in this field. Their concentrate on group were elite runners. They found that the band of athletes who possessed the anxiety characteristic correlated highly with those who acquired high pre-race stress states which correlated highly with the real competition performance. Very significantly, the greatest decrease in post-race panic levels was observed in those athletes who performed well in their races.

Constant motivation

In order to maintain elite footballer position a new player must find a source of constant motivation. First, in his adolescent training days, the determination may be personal glory and the goal orientated drive that is included with desperate to achieve professional status.

Having achieved that goal however, the gamer must then find other motivational drives to maintain his progress. For a few, it drive originates from considerations of status and wealth, for others maybe it's the necessity for adulation and fame, others may have personal goals of achieving the pinnacle of the chosen profession, these are the achievement-junkies that are seen in virtually any professional walk of life. No matter what motivation, success invariable comes at a cost. Decisions, and therefore usually sacrifices, need to be made along the route of attainment and achievements.

In this part we are considering specifically the elite footballer who, by explanation, has managed to achieve the peak of his job. We should perhaps also consider the other sports athletes who by virtue of circumstances, situation, lack of motivation or simply even random dissimilarities in pre-natal myelination habits, do not actually achieve the most notable of their job. We shall discuss one such case in the case-study at the end of this piece. For every elite footballer, there are many who do not make the very best echelon of players. A couple of arguably even more stress factors in this group who what things to achieve but for one reason or another, cannot.

As very good as motivation is concerned, this is a significant concern of every coach and manager in the country for reasons that we have lay out above. Most top teams will have psychologists who are motivational specialists. Motivational theory is evolving at a rapid rate and reversal theory is the existing idea of the moment. An especially good book about them is edited by Apter (2001). It deals with not only the current thinking on the subject but also the genuine development of the reversal theory from its conception in the 70s through to the applications of the present day. Significantly it also deals with the specific subject matter of stress engendered by the motivational process. It really is a highly specialized book and for that reason we do not propose to enter into detail about its items, but it illustrates the subconscious issues of burn-out, apathy and unhappiness that are generally seen in constantly ( and inappropriately) motivated players.

In the framework of elite footballers, there's a fascinating and brief article by McNair (1996) which viewed the result of verbal encouragement on maximal work output. The overall game of basketball is anecdotally renowned for the extreme verbal misuse beloved by many instructors, coaches and professionals. One may claim that it is merely a manifestation of their own frustrations and tensions that causes those to behave in this manner and it is certainly a cause of stress to the players (obviously it will be). McNairs paper produces a cast-iron rationale for this encouragement as he found, by means of an extremely simply designed review, that verbal encouragement will improve the maximal outcome of skeletal muscle. Oddly enough, while calculating the actual power result, he also assessed the EMG tracings of the afferent nerves providing the relevant muscles and discovered that verbal encouragement did not change the EMG readings, so the actual cause of the improvement had not been ascertained but it was nonetheless real.

Constant degrees of fitness

Constant degrees of fitness are obviously a pre-requisite for an elite footballer. There may well be periods of harm where the fitness levels show up, nevertheless they must be quickly re-established to be able to achieve optimum performance levels. Fitness, generally conditions equates with making power and job security for a elite footballer, so the overriding goal must be to attain peak fitness at all times. This, using circumstances, can become an obsession (See on - exercise dependence)

Exercise dependence

Many studies show the exercise can provide surge to demonstrable health advantages - both chronic and acute. There are many people for whom exercise actually becomes an obsession (Hurst et al. 2000). This is a real disease entity resulting in behaviour habits that compel an individual to exercise despite the presence of obstructions. In addition, it can produce both mental and physical symptoms of withdrawal, if exercise can't be taken (Pierce, 1994) ( Veale, 1995) (Thaxton 1982). These patterns are commoner in women and frequently associated with eating disorders but they are also seen in male sports athletes. Bamber et al. (2000) has authored a newspaper which produced a qualitative examination of the whole issue. She found that elements of an eating disorder were always present to a larger or lesser level, but that this was hard to quantify as many athletes will follow closely monitored eating regimes in any event.

This syndrome is commonest in women, but occurs in men, specifically it seems in those who have low self-esteem or a poor self-image. It might be thought that such features are abnormal in the context of elite footballers but perceived body image does not always reflect the true physique. Any experienced doctor will inform you of the anorexic or muscle dysmorphic who perceives something quite different when they look in the mirror. It really is commonly believed that such conditions are due to compensation syndromes. People may have a need to try to excel in a single area if indeed they feel that they are really in some way declining in another. (Bamber 2003)

Injury concerns

Injury is the footballers regular fear. Sports is an easy and occasionally violent game with frequent body contact as an intrinsic area of the game plan. Accident may differ from trivial to catastrophic or even life-threatening. Most incidents will impact on the elite footballer either during the harm or, as we have seen above, at a later stage in his life. We've referred earlier to the relatively short earning windowpane of the elite footballer and obviously there will be considerable stresses engaged if that screen is cut short for any reason.

Because of the huge investment that the average elite footballer presents to any golf club, plenty of energy and resources are employed to get an damaged player back again onto the field of play. It has to be said that the vast majority of professional clubs work responsibly in allowing injury to treat properly before coming back the ball player to training, but there will be the inevitable strain on the less-than-scrupulous mentor to get the player back again on the field before full restoration has occurred. It has costs to the gamer in terms of impaired performance and also in terms of long-term problems due to an incompletely healed damage.

Ekstrand et al. (2004) viewed the problem as a result of the 2002 World Glass. They cite one of the major reasons for injury as being the occurrence of the complements in a loaded calendar for the most notable players. Accidental injuries which would normally be thought to be comparatively minor did not get the usual chance to completely heal prior to the next game was anticipated to be played. This led to a rising accumulative total of traumas above what might normally be expected over the comparatively short time.

The study discovered that, in the ten months of the World Glass games the average player played 36 matches. The very best players form each team played out, on average, 46 matches in the same period. The study showed that the players who played out on earth Cup matches sustained 29% more accidental injuries than players from the same groups who didn't play. 32% underperformed in comparison with their normal standard. These players got played statistically more suits than those who have been felt to have played much better than expected. One major finding was that 60% of the players who possessed played more than one match in the week before a global Glass match were either hurt or underperformed during the World Glass game. The clear inference out of this study is the fact fatigue and physical burnout influences performance in elite footballers. At the best levels, players, golf clubs and coaches must be aware that this is a genuine phenomenon. And, at least, is a significant reason behind stress to the players.

Orchard and Seward (2002) Had taken this concept a stage further and looked at the injuries sustained by the entire Australian Football League over months from 1997-2000. Their conclusions are a significant source of concern to the elite footballer world.

In a season each team of 40 players would be prepared to receive 39 separate injuries. Plainly some players would be wounded more than once (The major predisposing factor for personal injury is a pre-existing injury). The injury prevalence of players absent through harm in weekly was 16% with a recurrence rate of 17%. They found that the commonest accident was to the hamstrings, accompanied by ACL strains and then groin injuries. For an elite footballer who is based upon his potential to try out for his income, these results symbolize a great cause of potential stress.

Before departing this area, we have to consider an added area of injury which we handled upon earlier, and this is the sequelae of concussion. Bloom et al (2004)

looked as of this particular problem in great fine detail with particular reference to the mental changes that were observed to occur after the injury. After battling a concussive personal injury, the elite footballer was found to have problems with a greater incidence of symptoms of isolation, pain, anxiety, and disruption of daily life because of this of the personal injury. The investigators found that a source of added stress was, unexpectedly, from other team members who were offering support but were subliminally placing pressure on the injured athlete to come back to experience. The researchers found a worrying range of unexpected internal symptoms including anger, denial, depressive disorder, problems, bargaining, and surprise. Clearly this needs to be both recognized and resolved if the impact of the harm is not to be a further source of stress to the injured footballer

Dietary concerns

The elite footballer should always be at peak fitness and as a result his diet must always be under scrutiny. Fitness generally requires a BMI around 20-23. Significant weight gains beyond this range not only reduce performance levels but also improve the wear and tear on the joints. We've already talked about the amount to which the leg joint is stressed during football training and learning. Adding weight to this joint is evidently only going to increase the degenerative changes that occur.

An elite footballer must have the ability to speed up his body mass speedily in a given direction. It follows that the greater the body weight, the higher effort is necessary. He'll know this both at a cerebral level and also at an instinctive level. He will know that if his weight goes up significantly then it becomes harder for him to perform as fast and turn as efficiently. The average elite footballer is therefore careful with regard to his diet. The average man in the population can afford to venture out for an intermittent extravagant food or the strange nighttime or two at the pub without having to worry too much about the results. The consequences for the elite footballer are that, in doing such things he'd have to reduce his calorie intake over the next few days in order to keep the position quo. This again can become a major source of stress for many.

As the years pass, the average men tends to become slower and put on weight as a natural process. This insidious reduction in the bodys efficiency is obviously a concern to a footballer who'll often try to combat this tendency with a lot more aggressive training programmes and dietary regimes - again another source of stress.

Drug monitoring concerns

A amount of elite footballers have strike the headlines recently because of this of random medication checks, either through declining or lacking them. Doping and drug-enhanced training is a fact of professional sports life in the current climate. It follows that the regulatory forces need to be ruthless in their search for a drug-free sport. The fact that some players do gamble against the chances and take performance improving medications and drugs is a representation of the strain and pressure that they feel under to constantly perform. It evenly follows that they must feel that their performance is not good enough if they need to resort to such procedures.

The problems do not stop at performance enhancing drugs. Stress and other factors may tempt a new player to work with drugs of any different type. Recreational drugs are common in elite footballer circles. In support of this statement we'd consider the newspaper by Turner (2003) In which he states that a recently retired elite footballer stated that 80% of elite footballers in Australia had either been offered or used recreational drugs. This statement was extensively reported in the Press and other resources quoted the amount to be nearer 30%. The reality of the matter will evidently never be known but it could be contrasted with the figure from the UK which shows that over 18% of all positive drugs screening process studies done on athletes are for recreational drugs. This is put in perspective against the 35% positive studies for stimulants and 25% for anabolic agents

Premature retirement

Retirement is a fact of life for all workers. As we have discussed earlier, retirement life from active performing - and for that reason from a high earning capacity - tends to come at a much earlier age for a footballer. It is therefore a major motivation to keep participating in at a high level for so long as possible.

Retirement through the natural ageing process is something that the elite footballer obviously has to come to conditions with. It really is comparatively unusual for a top list footballer to be participating in into his forties. He might have the experience to play well, but he is always judged on his results, and the fact of the problem is that there will always be younger players who will generally be faster and filled up with raw enthusiasm ready to bounce into any vacant slot machine at the top. The elite footballer therefore understands that his learning times are always numbered.

We have discussed earlier the issues confronted by the elite footballer in respect of the ever-present threat of injury. Obviously a career-ending accident can come anytime. It could be career-ending due to a dramatic incident like a major fracture of a major bone or it's rather a more understated process, an undesirable tackle gives rise to an ankle injury which, in turn gives go up to an unpredictable ankle that does not allow the pivoting action necessary for reliable play. It becomes evident that the gamer is not accomplishing as well as another player in the squad and therefore he is replaced with greater consistency and then he becomes dispirited and finally slipped from the team. The finish process is just the same in either eventuality - cessation of a dynamic playing job and the concurrent loss of high earning capacity.

The consequence can be damaging for a man who, in order to achieve elite footballer status, may well have devoted a substantial percentage of his adolescent and adult life to increasing and perfecting his soccer skills. He discovers himself effectively out of employment at an years where most men remain looking forward to at least twenty more many years of profitable work. The immediate opportunities for him are limited to training, instruction or managing, all of which are highly competitive as they are stuffed by his footballing predecessors and generally, they are not as well paid as his earlier career. The strains and emotional traumas are all too easy to understand if the elite footballer has not been particularly level-headed in his approach to the career.

The improbable body of Windsor Insurance Brokerages Ltd. published a report of an investigation into the career-ending happenings of professional footballers in the UK (1997) making interesting reading. They did not analyse the actual degrees of stress that people are worried about in this part, but their conclusions make sobering reading to the present technology of elite footballers. It would appear that few elite footballers actually reach retirement age with out a significant injury. That accident is sensible (either immediately or indirectly) for the eventual decision to retire in over 80% of conditions.

Roos (1998) viewed the same problem but also considered the subconscious sequelae as well as the physical issues that resulted in eventual retirement living. Both paperwork are well crafted and provide significant amounts of information on the subject.


Living up to perceived lifestyle

Financial causes of stress are difficult to either quantify or generalise as every elite footballer will experience them to a greater or lesser level. On the main one palm there are stresses associated with the relatively poor pay and conditions of the gamer as he climbs in the ladder of experience and position. At the elite footballer level, where pay is actually at a much higher rate there will be the tensions that accompany high incomes to contend with. Many elite footballers will have a tendency to surpass their income levels and, as we've discussed before, these levels have a tendency to be transient and can drop considerably as the result of a chance harm. For most players, high income levels will often be matched up by high levels of expenditure on status related items. Expensive properties and cars need to be paid for and the maintenance costs need to be met after the high incomes that allowed for them have evaporated. Evidently this will signify a major cause of stress to the injudicious or unprepared player.

The multimedia constantly bombard us with images of the very elite few of the super-rich players. Their stresses will, presumably be atypical in comparison with a lot of the elite players and therefore, to a large extent, won't concern us as their unique stresses are peculiar with their situation.

Transient characteristics of income

The transient aspect of the elite footballer income has been discussed in other areas of this piece. Few players have the ability to maintain elite levels of salary significantly beyond their thirties. The other aspect of this debate is, of course, the amount of hopefuls who are constantly working their way the ladder to attempt to obtain this degree of income but who will never attain it. You can find no reliable results for the amount of trainee players who are lost to the machine through natural wastage or the first realisation that they just won't make the grade. For these players, the tensions must be probably greater. The expectation of attaining the goal of elite levels of salary must, undoubtedly, be a major motivational factor in the aspiring players life. To get once achieved it and then lost it is plainly a source of stress. One could dispute that to try for this and then not achieve it could be a greater source of stress still.

Income reliant on continued performance

This is the natural development of the previous argument. It is an often quoted anecdote that a player is only as good as his last goal. Fame, income and success are ultimately dependent on performance on the football field. Personal success, and by inference the success of the membership that will pay you, is totally dependent upon your ability to learn better than anyone else who the team may potentially reach replace you. All the potential stresses that we have examined so far are all because of this of the necessity to constantly perform at an elite level. The constant levels of fitness, the desire, the constant need to perform are all reflections of the fact that an elite footballers income is dependent on his performance on every single appearance. Obviously this is a superb way to obtain stress.

Publicity related

Media attention

Family intrusion

Privacy intrusion

The regions of publicity are all related and interdependent. Many up-and-coming players will actively court publicity in order to increase their account and in so doing increase their appeal to a high profile membership. The downside to this approach is obviously that when they have achieved their desired goal, the media own an overwhelming obligation to sell their newspapers and can often exploit and indiscretion or misdemeanour on the part of the player in a sensationalistic way. This is extremely stressful both on a personal level and also on a family level as, almost undoubtedly the players family will be affected as well.

The top-flight of elite footballers will have the additional problem that they are apt to be shadowed by the paparazzi and camcorders will be directing in their path whenever they go out in public. Sometimes the cameras will also be there when they are in private as well and this can be extremely nerve-racking. Certainly more than one celebrity marriage is finished because of indiscretions captured on camera.

A simple illustration of this point shows that a web search of todays Sunlight publication under the key phrase football scandal shows 18 articles in one paper only.

Direct stress-related problems


Overindulgence in alcoholic beverages is definitely a traditional method for the anxious person to ease some of the more clear symptoms of stress. Quite in addition to the obvious challenges of overindulgence of alcohol there are also some sport-specific problems as well. Whyte et al. (2004) reported an instance of unprecipitated atrial fibrillation as a direct result of alcohol extra and Cascarni et al. (2004) also reported the effects of postural hypotension after strenuous exercise as the result of alcohol take a long time before exercise.


We have examined the issues relating to drugs in sport under the going of medication monitoring concerns. There is an interesting article by Clisby (2004) provocatively entitled Dying to win where the whole problem of drug taking in sport is analyzed in some information. It is undiscovered how many of the elite footballers in the sport today take drugs, evenly it is just a subject of conjecture how many take drugs as a palliative to stress. What is beyond doubt is the fact both factors are issues in the life of some of todays elite footballers.

Relationship problems

Relationship problems appear to be endemic in our society today and it is reasonable to conclude that the elite footballers of today are no exception. One of the major factors in marriage break-ups is often cited as insufficient time alongside one another. The needs on the time of at the very top footballer in todays society are huge. Although many footballers undoubtedly have the ability to control these demands satisfactorily, there are evenly some who cannot. Data on this issue is hard to come by in any authoritative format, so we will have to leave it as a matter of conjecture.

Cognitive functioning

Earlier on in this piece we discussed the consequences of concussive incidents on the entire cognitive performing of the average person. To put the correct balance on the debate we would like to provide a counter discussion. This is summed up in a report by Young (1979). He looked at the effect of regular exercise on the cognitive functions. The paper is complex so it will never be discussed at length other than to observe that certain of the major results was that exercise reduces stress levels. Within the light of the fact that all the elements that people have discussed so far have been about factors that cause stress, we have to bear in mind that the elite footballer also therefore has a number of positive factors which mitigate against stress.


We will now consider the truth of Mr Peter Vasey who experienced managed to get his goal in life to become listed on the ranks of the elite footballers. He has been interviewed (Appendices I & II ). The backdrop to his report is that he's now 22yrs. old. At the age of 9 he joined up with Your City Football Club eventually completing a full YTS course there. By the age of 16yrs. he had been hailed by the press as a major up-and-coming ability in the club and played a complete season with the York City reserves where he gained a great deal of experience by participating in against a few of the games elite. He was once picked to be a reserve for the first team and travelled with the team completely to Plymouth. This became a traumatic experience for him as he recalls that the personnel didnt speak to him whatsoever that day and therefore he had no idea of his genuine role or position and he believed favorably excluded by the first team players. He was released from the YTS at age 19 yrs. He consequently went on to do a school course in Sports activities Science at age 20 yrs. and hopes to subsequently execute a PGCE course in front of you career in coaching.

The system of the interviews was that these were conducted in the researchers flat within three days and nights of each other, each interview enduring about two hours. The atmosphere was as calm as practical, with refreshments and relaxation breaks available on demand. Mr Vasey was aware that he did not have to answer any question that he didn't feel safe with. The interviews were noted on tape and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts of the full interviews are attached as Appendices I & II.

Discussion of the interviews

First Interview

The first impression that may be attracted from Mr Vaseys interview is the apparently constant referrals to stress in one form or another. He volunteers difficult experiences on almost every reply. Uses term such as really nervous, constantly stressed out with a degree of rate of recurrence. Although he plainly tries to give a standard impression of coping and competence, there is undoubtedly an underlying trend of self-doubt and insufficient self-belief. This is belied by his sources to his feelings of missing out at university and his referrals to presenting more downs than ups. There are more subtle referrals to these feeling in his observations that they were always playing head games, a possible reference to the actual fact that he's not secure in his own self-confidence. He appears to often be examining his own motivations, talents, and sometimes, even his desire to keep. This certainly becomes more noticeable as the interview advances.

The strains that he explicitly identifies are amongst those that we've identified above. Clearly top of his list is the strain of doubt of occupation. The uncertainty of being chosen for the team, the uncertainty of whether he was considered to have been working hard enough as an adolescent, the uncertainty of being considered on as a YTS and then your obvious worries about the security of tenure of his YTS position as his contemporaries are asked to leave.

In value to his health he somewhat glosses over his problems with his kidney. It would appear that he does not wish to reveal a good deal about it. It was clearly a possibly serious problem as he refers to a scar, so presumably there was an operation. We're able to surmise that his visible bravado more than a possibly career intimidating illness could possibly be a reflection of his be anxious that if he makes an excessive amount of it them he will not be chosen for campaign because the professionals may have concerns about his fitness.

Other stresses that people have determined above also appear to have damaged Mr Vasey. He identifies his lover of 2 yrs as making him anxious when he was playing and being consumed with stress when her family would come watching him play. He volunteers that he regarded as sports as more important to him than she was. Any difficulty. she had not been a source of support at the moment and he perceives her as something of your hindrance to his career prospects.

We have also identified difficulty in preserving inspiration as a strong reason behind stress. Mr Vasey recognizes this himself quite explicitly - as I acquired older, the motivation acquired less and less. He equates this with the realisation that he didnt have what it had taken to make it as a professional player. It is difficult to determine whether this is a genuine considered judgement or whether it was a subjective decision and a reflection of his general lack of self confidence in this route.

There are also more delicate stresses. His relating of the bout of having to tidy up the stadium and be accountable for the first teams kit, comes with an air of resigned stoicism about any of it. It is shown almost as a rite of passage that youngsters have to withstand without complaint, in order to stand a chance of being permitted to emerge into the status of your team player. He remarks that it was difficult needing to be responsible for the set up at the age of 16 - which it without doubt was.

Mr Vasey must have been a accomplished footballer. He was chosen of the masses at 9 yrs. , participating in for York as a teenager and registered as a YTS trainee at 16. Plainly, his destiny was much the same as a number of aspiring hopefuls. Even as of this age he probably realized (or must have known) that the pyramid of advertising to the professional game is very steep and your competition for places is hard.

Although it is accepted that the interviews are mainly set up to elicit information about Mr Vaseys footballing life, it can be significant that there surely is virtually no mention of any other aspect of his life. We listen to of a woman good friend in a strictly peripheral capacity (as someone found in a derogatory remark). This may, of course, be observed as a representation of single-mindedness about his quest for the game. It is also possible that his life outside soccer was indeed seriously curtailed by this activity which, for a producing teenager, must be considered a considerable source of stress. It really is interesting the Mr Vasey relates a reply to a pal who asks if he previously any regrets about not going out while at York City, and he replies:

No. I'd will have been wondering easily had have taken care of myself properly would I have already been made an expert?

In fairness to Mr Vasey, in his own analysis, he does appear to have been sole minded about his approach to the game. A couple of frequent recommendations to hardships and self-denial to be able to stay fit and focused although, paradoxically he makes several referrals - about his latter encounters - to the actual fact that he appreciates that

It was not designed to be a footballer because I havent got the head to take care of it, I get too stressed out

In the interviews there are a number of Tells or explicit remarks which belie root emotions and feelings. Mr Vasey regularly underplays his skills and justifies his feedback by expressing that he was aware (and disliked) arrogance in some players which definitely was not his style. Within an unguarded comment he informs us that he was so encouraged to become footballer. In his early on years at institution he recalls sharing with his peers that he wished to be was a professional footballer. So it is rather clear from these commentary - an his activities - that Mr Vasey was particularly one minded about attempting to attain his goal even though his outward responses may be interpreted as being unduly inspired either by modesty or insufficient confidence. We aren't really able to make a judgement as to which of both character characteristics was operative. Mr Vasey is clearly an outwardly moderate man but you have to observe that there are a lot of other incidences in the interview replies where a lack of confidence is apparent. He admits - in response to a primary question - that he questioned his own capability on a regular basis.

In another incident where he's relating the tv show by the end of his second season YTS he was unexpectedly asked into the Managers office. His initial instinctive reaction was

Oh no, what have we done wrong like now? I thought that people were in trouble. I recall considering Oh no, thats it for me personally I imagineI thought here we go Ive acquired no chance

It can be an interesting touch upon Mr Vaseys gratitude of the hierarchy of the overall game that he perceives a dichotomy in his emotions for other professional soccer players. He talks of them in some instances as his role models - for example his manager at York - and he speaks in almost reverential tones of other professional soccer players who always manage to bounce back after going right through a poor spell. After being asked to compare himself to another professional sports player ( Make Sattori) he would defer to his identified superiority because he played out for the first team and for that reason - almost by meaning - was to be considered better than he was.

On the other palm he speaks of the arrogance, which is nearly considered to be essential if you will make it as a specialist football player, and the demeaning way that he was cured by them when he was accountable for their package and during his ill-fated trip to Plymouth.

If we consider this episode of the Plymouth trip, it actually tells us a great deal about the problem. Mr Vasey obviously considers it to be the defining moment in time when he decided that he didnt want to be a professional football player. On the facial skin than it he seems to have indeed been cared for discourteously and badly, but an example may be required to ask merely to what extent experienced the decision been fermenting and building in his mind's eye beforehand? Throughout nearly all of the first interview Mr Vasey is sharing with us of his stress, his lack of self confidence and his unfavorable encounters - situations which he obviously was not enjoying but was prepared to tolerate because he perceived them as necessary to endure to be able to accomplish his mentioned goal. It is therefore wondering that he runs on the situation were his footballing skills were not questioned or even required to be demonstrated to be the explanation for his decision to give up the professional sports trail. The reason that he offers is that throughout the whole trip I was waiting for anyone to speak to me. I had fashioned clearly done something right to be there, but all I needed was for the managerial personnel in order to me so. Doubtless a Psychotherapist would pass comment on the truth that this requirement for approval may stem from a prior comment made by his dad who berated him for not attempting hard enough of course, if he didnt try harder he was going to get released by the team. There is simply insufficient information in the interviews to make such a judgement, so that it should be flagged up as an open-ended declaration of opportunity.

It seems from the info that we have that Mr Vasey had been questioning his capabilities (both in conditions of mental durability and physical capacity) for some time. He appears to imply he realised that he didnt have the arrogance and mental resilience that he thought were essential to make it to the top of his game some time before this tv show and it would appear that he has used the unpleasant experiences of the Plymouth trip to catalyse the ultimate decision.

It seems that he also offers come to conditions with this state of affairs by justifying the problem to himself by commenting that if he were asked to signal a two year professional contract at the membership, he'd say no, that he was in a much better position now than if he previously remained at the club & most significantly he concludes this section with the words because I understand Im not meant to be considered a footballer, because I've not got the top to handle it, I get too consumed with stress. We are remaining with the thoughts that is this comment a genuine reflection of the status of his ability or is it a reflection of his insufficient self-confidence or even his modesty?

Second Interview

The second interview is noticeably not the same as the first both in conditions of content and moreover, style. The content is clearly different because it deals with another instance in Mr Vaseys life - his move from failing football hopeful to successful and satisfied university learner. The change in style reflects his change of conception and attitude. Demanding shows are noticeably fewer in the next interview so when they are simply related, they have an air of healthy concern about them. Mr Vasey obviously knows the academic stresses that he experienced but instead of a fearful perspective he identifies the strain of his psychology course as hard but enjoyable

In the next interview he is able to refer to the show at York in the past tense, looking back again from a position of fulfilment and comparative security to a time when he clearly felt that he previously neither.

In contrast to his first interview where he is apparently at pains to justify his situation at York, his second interview is currently more dismissive of the time there. He uses phrases such as I simply desired out - Id acquired enough in all honesty - I just wanted to go - I realized that I wasnt going to be signed on - I wasnt bothered about soccer at all. He has clearly come to conditions that he is not going to help make the grade as a specialist footballer. He has supplanted that goal in his mind's eye with the new goal of getting a diploma.

It is interesting that he feels ashamed and awkward about sharing with his friends and peers about his leaving the team, even though he's making a step that he should be pleased with as it signifies a great deal of hard work on his part. He recognized the transition as if he previously let everyone down. All his contemporaries were anticipating him to become professional footballer and he plainly found informing them that he had not been heading to be, quite difficult.

His associated with football during the last six months at York is also at chances with his demonstration through the first interview. When he has made the real decision (although he shows up never to have actually confronted it at the time) he then speaks of enjoying his football as the strain and pressure has been removed. The necessity for constant performance and inability to relax from the training schedule has gone and entertainment then replaces stress.

In normal with other people in his situation, Mr Vasey also articulates the fact that, at college or university he doesn't have the continual stress of living up to a graphic. His teenage friends all expected him to be a footballer and he definitely experienced pressure to fulfil their expectations. He comments that, at school he became aware that folks accepted him for who he was - rather than as a failed professional footballer. He relates this to a decrease in stress levels.

It is very significant, and perhaps an indicator of his impending maturity, that he looks back, in the next interview at his time at York as a learning curve. He says:

It arranged me up for who I am now. It made me a much more powerful person. Since it was severe and rigorous it made me a whole lot of what I am today.

Very significantly he practices this up with the comment:

It made me think of all positives now, when i used to look at all the negatives then

He relates the essential distinctions between stress at York and stress at college or university as:

At college or university I dont have to make an impression anybody. You can only just let yourself down at college or university, but when I used to be at York you got the actual to let every person down on the team.

Another very significant perception comes later on in the next interview where he is relating the variations in his attitudes between using in the semi-pro part at university or college and playing at York:

For this team (the semi-pro aspect) the win was the most crucial thing and my performance was second whereas it was the other way around at York.

Mr Vasey then tells us that he will be continuing to experiment with football but he will be doing it because:

it is soccer that I love when i dont feel stressed while I am taking part in.

The reason the we have laboured this aspect to a qualification, would be that the thrust of the piece is about the tensions of professional soccer. Mr Vasey plainly exemplifies the problem where the stresses are largely settled when he takes on football for enjoyment rather than profession.

This second interview catalogues the transition of Mr Vasey the frustrated, pressured and finally thwarted professional footballer, to Mr Vasey the fulfilled, less stressed and happier learner on the brink of any teaching career


The overall thrust of this piece is approximately the stresses that elite footballers can experience and an study of how one such aspiring young footballer did actually experience and deal with the strains that he found and experienced.

The stresses that people have layed out and discussed are clearly only a few relevant to all players. As Mr Vasey implies himself, one way of measuring success is by examining just how well you actually manage to manage the stresses included (Lazarus 1999). He even offers us a few ideas of his own interpretation of the coping device. He instructs us that he just places his brain down and gets on with the job at hand. He refers to arrogance of nearly all successful players. We believe that he is also obliquely discussing this arrogance when he relates his conception of the way that he was cared for by the first team players on his ill-fated visit to Plymouth.

Mr Vasey is obviously not an arrogant man. We are able to deduce this not only from his own words but from his firmness, his demeanour and his personal references to others (Clarke 1998). He seems content to make a considered judgement of other people and does not think it is necessary (in the primary) to constantly denigrate or refer to them in derogatory conditions - which is one of the hallmarks of arrogance. (Lazarus 1999)

Equally, we might make the deduction that Mr Vasey finally did not make the change to elite footballer position mostly because of his inability to invoke coping mechanisms (Freese 1976). He identifies himself in victim position when he relates the bout of the Plymouth trip. In specific conditions he uses phrases of passivity and submission somewhat than dominance and hostility. (Cavanagh 1998) The trip killed my confidence and all I wanted was for you to definitely speak to me, I was cared for awfully and they put me out of the way at the top floor have all the hallmarks of phrases utilized by somebody who is questioning their self worth.

The arrogant or positive coping kind of footballer would probably have approached the whole tv show with the frame of mind of I shall speak to them easily choose to and if they dont like me then its my misfortune but its their problem therefore changing the sufferer status for your of dominance and keeping the locus of control with himself. (Anshel et al 2001)

This kind of mechanism is seen throughout the interviews. It includes actually improved to a level further by enough time that it reaches the next interview and we are discussing events later on in life. Mr Vasey appears back and endeavors to justify the span of incidents as it just was not meant to be and I realised which i didnt have what it took ( both remarks demonstrating passivity). Inside the first interview, when he's relating events prior to the catalytic Plymouth trip, he identifies expectation of succeeding and being ready to put up with indignity and hardship in order to accomplish his professed goal (still in the passive mode but with an alternative emphasis). (Anshel et al 2001)

We have refered to the frequent recommendations to being pressured, especially noticeable through the first interview. In ways this is quite paradoxical. Admittedly, he's relating to a time when he was evidently stressed, but he is doing this from a period in his life when he professes to be significantly less pressured. Although he identifies these stresses before tense on most occasions, he occasionally slips back to today's tense almost as though he's reliving a distressing experience. His repeated allusions to being really nervous and constantly stressed out are indicative of the thoughts mentioned by Crampton (1995). There may be hardly a paragraph of a remedy to a question about his time playing football where he does not refer to stress in a single form or another. This will be contrasted to his time at school where he continues to play sports, but his build and demeanour following the watershed of his departing York changes quite considerably - but we shall comment on this in more detail just a little later

Anshel (et al. 2001), in his excellent article about coping mechanisms in sportsmen, outlines the many sources of stress that Mr Vasey evidently identifies with. Apart from the concerns that people have already layed out, one of the overriding causes of his stress is basic insecurity. Insecurity about his tenure of the YTS system, insecurity about various aspects of his life - was he working hard enough? - was he heading to establish himself good enough to become a footballer? - what was he heading to do if he didnt make it? All of these insecurities (and many others) are effective causes of stress for him.

The major part of effectively coping with these tensions is correctly figuring out then first (Lazarus 1999). Stress becomes much easier to deal with on the clinical and a personal basis, if it is possible to identify the triggers. You may recognise it for what it is and, oftentimes, you can package with it yourself instinctively, or even be educated how to approach it, if you havent already discovered some of the ways of carrying it out.

This brings us to the next point. Does Mr Vasey manage the situation in the most likely way? If he previously used other coping mechanisms, other that approval and denial as he seems to have done, would the outcome have been in any way different? Plainly that is conjecture but we can make an educated guess.

Firstly, we could take the view that, in his own words he realised that he didnt have the raw talent. We've no way of assessing the truth of this comment. He clearly did have extensive skill which he boosted by hard work and determination. If he really assumed that he didnt possess the expertise, then it is questionable concerning just why he survived in that competitive environment for so long. It could simply be considered a rationalisation of the problem that he found himself in together with an factor of denial. Im been fallen from the YTS or booted out, therefore I shall rationalise this in a far more satisfactory way by expressing to myself that we wasnt excellent enough and this is to discover the best, as I could now go on and do something else better. (Barlow 2000)

If we presume that he was accurate and didnt hold the raw ability to eventually make it into professional sports, then he have make the right decision. You can therefore postulate about - was all the stress an anxiety price the eventual final result?

Taking this type of debate on further, Freese(1976 quoted in Selye), suggests his notion that stress is basically an endogenous biological function that has improved within the millennia and our bodies actually desire a degree of stress to function properly. You need stress forever. If you follow the quarrels and reasoning in his book, then you would say that this experience, giving form and purpose to Mr Vaseys life through his formative years, was actually a good learning experience which determined, drove him and motivated him to try and succeed. It w

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