Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

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How much does your brain affect your athletic ability?

Have you ever heard of a mental block? 

A mental block is the inability to do or think of something because of your brain, and it’s not usually correlated to skill. It separates your mind from your body and can drain your “creative juices,” leaving you staring blankly at a screen for an extended period without being productive. 

What is a mental block in sports? 

Mental blocks can occur during various activities, including sports. This block can stunt your skills and ability to improve with just a mindset. When experiencing a mental block, you may not be able to do things that used to seem easy to you. 

Knowing about these blocks, how can your brain affect how you play sports?

Athletes get a lot of attention for their physical attributes: speed, strength, coordination, and grace. But it takes more than strength and physical ability to succeed in sports. In the blink of an eye, an expert athlete recognizes patterns, filters out irrelevant visual cues, and makes plans. While the brain pumps dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline, it can also wear down self-confidence. Mental block symptoms can appear, like performance anxiety and fear of using the talent. When an athlete lacks confidence, struggles with a skill, or performs below par, these are signs of a mental block. Their perspective is the one thing that lies between their intellect and body. All athletes, no matter how strong or physically gifted, can struggle to be successful if they have mental barriers, such as low confidence, high anxiety, nerves, or feeling too much pressure, that can overtake them in the heat of competition. 

Your brain is the vessel to your body; the brain is a complex organ that controls thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger, and every process that regulates our body. With this power, your brain can make or break your sporting career. You must trust your brain, have self-confidence, and push yourself to improve; lacking trust in your skill or brain will lead to the loss of confidence and skill. 

Here are some signs of mental blocks:

  1. Lack of consistency
  2. Losing confidence and playing scared
  3. Easily frustrated or emotional 
  4. Doing better in practice than in games
  5. Wanting to quit

Lack of Consistency 

This occurrence occurs when an athlete gets involved in bad habits, forgetting their sports discipline. Yes, every athlete has a bad game, but these occurrences could relate to mental blocks—this roller coaster of fabulous plays to simple mistakes can be highly frustrating for an athlete. 

Losing confidence and being scared 

As an athlete this is one of the biggest obstacles for someone in sports. Overcoming the fear of failure or messing up is a huge step in success. However, in some cases, this fear forces pressure that makes athletes play better. From my experience, it is tough to play while being timid. 

Easily frustrated or emotional 

It is usual for a player passionate about their sport to become slightly upset when they make a mistake. However, an athlete who gets angry and frustrated at every mistake or messes up frequently may be a sign of a mental block. Often, athletes only demand the best of themselves and are severely disappointed if they do not play to perfection. A mental block may incline an athlete to make small mistakes into a catastrophe. 

Doing better in practice than in games

Athletes who do well in practice but poorly in competition almost always suffer from a mental block. Since they aren’t as concentrated on a specific result or objective as they would be during games or performances, athletes typically play more at ease during practice. Athletes play at their best when they are at ease, but when it comes time for the game, they are probably thinking about a specific result, like winning or hitting a particular mark. 

Wanting to quit 

This could be a sign of a mental block or an appearance of perfectionism. Sports anxiety is a regular occurrence; it typically manifests as uneasiness or pre-game butterflies. But when anxiety gets bad, our mind tries to get out of doing the activity. The longer we put off doing anything, the more terrifying and enormous it grows in our minds, which makes us put off doing it even more. It may also stem from a fear of embarrassment, a desire to live up to expectations, or a desire to avoid making mistakes. Avoiding their sport becomes simpler than facing these worries.

What can you do to overcome a mental block? 

You can control your mental block by controlling your mind and emotions. Learn to empower and be proud of yourself no matter what. Instead of looking at where you have left to go, think about how far you have come. Center your attention on the present moment, recognizing the indicators of an imminent breakthrough. Intentionally slow down the pace of your surroundings to alleviate stress and maintain a positive mindset. Remember, you are fully capable of achieving this!

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About the Contributor
Kaelynn Greeley
Kaelynn Greeley, Staff Writer
Kaelynn Greeley (11), a current junior at Santiago High School, favors subjects where creativity is present. She's an underclassman, taking AP Language Arts to sharpen her reading and writing skills. Her interest in writing developed after reading novels and wanting to tell stories, and thus writing became a hobby for her. Over the summer, Kaelynn took college camps specified for writing and reading. After these classes, she enhanced her abilities in creativity, efficiency, and writing in general. When Kaelynn is not busy writing, she enjoys playing volleyball and drawing. In the future, she hopes to publish her own book completely drawn and written by herself. Kaelynn aspires to pursue a career in book writing, college volleyball, and slight drawing. You can contact her at, [email protected]
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