Anxiety and related stress issues can sometimes lead to a sportsman "choking" or "freezing". The extent to which anxiety will influence your sporting behavior and habits will depend on your interpretation of the world in general. Many athletes are susceptible to stress and have thus failed to reach their potential. We define anxiety as being a natural reaction to environmental threats and part of the subconscious preparation for the fight or flight reaction. Sport often challenges our natural instincts in this regard, especially since there is an added threat - to ones ego or self-esteem.
Stress and Anxiety in Sports
Sport can be exhausting, and can lead to confrontation with hostile opponents and fans. One might often be faced with what one perceives to be a "superior opponent". All this can lead to great challenges to ones psyche and character.
There is essentially nothing dangerous about anxiety that results from sporting competition. In fact, anxiety and stress of this kind can serve as a motivating force in our lives. However, some people deal with stress differently and as a result may experience the negative effects of such an event.
Sport leads to uncertainty, and it is this uncertainty and fear of the unknown that can lead to anxiety. The very unpredictable nature of most sports is a large motivating factor when it comes to anxiety in sport. This type of uncertainty can have varying effects on athletes. Some may be positively motivated in order to make the unknown result tip in their favor. Others may have such a great fear of the unknown that anxiety will cause them to expect or predict a negative result.
Spectators can also play a part in causing anxiety in athletes. Statistics have shown the advantages of playing in ones home ground with a crowd in favor of the home team. Home teams win up to 64% of the time. Another example of this is the fact that Australia and Greece won particularly large medal hauls at their respective Olympic games in 2000 and 2004.
If one is expected to succeed, one might experience added pressure, which can contribute to the onset of anxiety.
In general, those participating in individual sports will suffer more from anxiety. Individual sports can lead to a sense of isolation and exposure. In individual sports, the fear of humiliation and failure is higher because of a lack of anonymity.
Fear of Injury
In certain sports, fear of physical injury is a possible motivating factor when it comes to anxiety. Fear can lead to one becoming more defensive or cautious in outlook, particularly with regard to a sport such as boxing, where the fear of physical injury is very real.