The Pressure to Succeed
Being a teenager in high school is not easy. Being a teenage student athlete in high school is even more challenging. In previous blogs I have discussed the challenges of trying to make a basketball team and doing everything possible to prepare and train in order to give yourself the best possible chance of making the team.
However, one thing I have not covered is the pressures that arrive once you make the team. You might find yourself as a returning junior or senior as one of the top players on the team expected to produce big time stats and lead your team to multiple victories. No matter how good you are, sometimes things can get overwhelming, especially when you have constant distractions and individuals who might not have your best interests at heart.
Anxiety Over Performing At A High Level And Stress Management
For the first time in your young life as a high school athlete, you might be dealing with the anxiety and pressures of performing in front of large audiences with a lot at stake. Playing in front of a packed gym full of students, and staff who are excepting big things from you can be frightening. Listening to music or reading a magazine or book can be great ways to lower anxiety before a game.
Also, attending class the next day after a poor performance and having to face the school and can intimating and consuming to the point where it might be hard to physically attend school. Remember that everyone has off days and you ultimately have the power to redeem yourself.
The Pressure Of Playing While Injured
High School athletes get inured the same way as college and professional athletes do. If you are injured, do not let pressure from the school, coaches, or peers influence you to play if you are not ready. Being tough is one thing, but playing on an injury which might end up bothering you the rest of your life is not worth it. If you suffer an injury, seek the advice of a medical professional.
Staying Away From Shortcuts And Performance Enhancing Drugs
In high school, young people are extremely resourceful and end up having access to many different things. If you are offered a substance which someone claims will help you heal quicker or will make you perform better, stay away from it. Whether it be a type of steroid to help build muscle, or some type of a pill which allows you to stay awake longer to get more stuff done, stay away from it. As an athlete, you know that taking shortcuts never helps. If athletics, sports, and life become too stressful and overwhelming, seek out a counselor or therapist to talk it out. Keeping emotions and feelings inside often just makes things worse. Working with a counselor or therapist does not mean you are weak or crazy, it simply means that you are mature enough to recognize that there is a problem and you are taking the initiative to do something about it.
Remember Why It Is That You Started Playing
For many of us, we fell in love with sports at a young age because we loved how it felt to play. We didn’t start playing to impress someone, to get a scholarship, or to make people like us. Remember your roots and why you began playing the game as it might have been an outlet, or passion, or something that simply made you feel free. As you grow older, there are many other politics that try to distort that passion you first discovered for the game. Keep that in mind when things get too difficult. Remember that sports will not last forever, but your courage, integrity, health, and your mind will.
Contributing writer Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops is the author of a number of poetry and fiction books for young people. Jasen has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is a life-long participant and fan of the game of basketball.