Student athletes feel pressure to perform well

The Ultimate Frisbee team practices throwing drills at one of their practices. Student athletes endure a lot of pressure as they juggle sports and academics.
The Ultimate Frisbee team practices throwing drills at one of their practices. Student athletes endure a lot of pressure as they juggle sports and academics.
Photo submitted by Aaron Woodman

It is not a suprise sports hold a significant place in student life. From the adrenaline in a game to bonds created between teammates, sports offer experiences that are priceless. But there is also a lot of pressure that student-athletes face.

Playing sports is undeniably a rewarding experience, but it also comes with an enormous amount of pressure. Whether it is the expectations of coaches, performing well on a team or trying to secure a scholarship, student-athletes are constantly dealing with high expectations.

According to a 2023 survey done by the National Library of Medicine, “Approximately 91 percent reported experiencing some level of stress due to playing a sport.”

One of the main sources of pressure for student athletes comes from coaches. While coaches are there to support and guide their players, they also have high expectations for performance. Whether it is pushing athletes to run faster, score more points or perfecting a specific play. The pressure to meet these expectations can be intense. For some students, the fear of letting down their coach can be paralyzing, leading to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt.

Another reason can be parents. Parents who participated in a sport during their own childhood may want to have their children to follow in their footsteps. Parents who excelled in a sport may hope to see their children achieve similar success, which can positively or negatively affect a student.

Senior Jack Richter an athlete doing both track and cross country, said family can be a major factor in an athlete participating in a sport. “Sometimes students can be encouraged to do a sport because your parents are into that sport.”

The reality is, you obviously want the student to do well in their sport, but if you look at the percentages and the odds, not many people are going to make their career playing sports. So prioritize getting your work done and do well in school.”

— Kevin Klancher

For many student-athletes, securing scholarships, sponsorships or NIL deals are common goals. With colleges becoming more expensive and sports growing in popularity, these opportunities can positively influence a student athlete’s future. Unfortunately scholarships are hard to get. According to a statistics report from GITNUX, “Around two percent of high school athletes are awarded some form of athletic scholarships to compete in college.”

Social Studies and Psychology teacher Kevin Klancher believes student athletes should prioritize their education more than their sport.

While sports have many things that make it stressful for athletes, they also offer numerous health benefits that positively impact student athletes. Participating in a sport can provide students with an outlet for stress relief and mental relaxation after a long day of classes and academic responsibilities. Exercise also releases serotonin and dopamine which are hormones associated with happiness. Lastly, sports also teach athletes life skills that can be used for the rest of their lives.

The mental health of student athletes deserves more attention and prioritization. From demanding schedules, intense pressure to perform at a high level and balancing school and sports can significantly impact their mental health. Coaches and administrators should have more training to recognize the early signs of mental distress in their athletes. By having increased awareness and addressing some of the mental health challenges faced by student athletes, it will make sure they receive the care and support they need in order to be successful in every aspect of their lives not just sports.

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