Pressure on student-athletes

By Jake Cavanaugh
October 30, 2022

Facing the court. Photo by Christian Montes from Pexels.
Facing the court. Photo by Christian Montes from Pexels.

Pressure is a feeling everybody faces every day, but how do Cabrini athletes handle that pressure on and off the field?

Student-athletes are constantly under immense pressure, whether it is through their academics or athletics. “Athletes often begin to experience pressure when they imagine what may occur if the desired outcome is not achieved,” Emma Vickers, author from BelievePerform, said.

Another reason student-athletes may be experiencing pressure is mental health. Mental health is a huge part of a student athlete’s success on and off the field. Since student-athletes have been opening up more about their mental health struggles, it is easier to see what those triggers could be causing the mental fatigue. “Athletes handle extreme requirements and pressure. So they can be subject to stress triggers more often than the average person,” Allaya Cooks-Campbell, author from BetterUp, said.

“I try not to let my nerves or pressure get to me; I like to keep a clear level head,” Matt Hughes, a fifth-year defender and captain of Cabrini’s men’s lacrosse team said.

What to do with nerves?

“If I feel pressured or nervous, I usually just talk to my friends about it. If not than I go to work out or do something to keep my mind busy,” Hughes said.

Another way to help reduce the pressure or nerves someone can be feeling is to breathe slowly and try to remain calm. “Deep breathing techniques bust stress by counteracting their response. You take in more oxygen, your heart rate slows, and your mind starts to slow down,” Christine Yu, author of Dignity Health, said.

Kyle Kutyla, a senior defender on Cabrini’s men’s lacrosse team, said, “Just relax and have fun. Everyone is in the game of life together.”

 Ideally, student-athletes are trained to handle the pressure of big moments; the last shot of the game with seconds left on the clock, or covering the best offensive player with the game on the line. But how does that help them off the field?

Matt Hughes against York. Photo by Nick Leradi.

“The biggest part of relieving nerves is knowing you are prepared and capable for the task. If you can prepare and know you are going to do your best, the nerves begin to be less of a problem,” Hughes said.

“Everyone is going to make similar mistakes to the ones you make. You must learn from them and be better,” Kutyla said. “One piece of advice I would give to someone is to not overthink every little mistake. Figure out where the problem is from the beginning and try your best to fix it from there. If you can identify the problem early, it leaves less of a chance for a problem later.”

When the pressure from sports and academics starts to build up, some people use a variety of tips and tricks to reduce the pressure. “Visualization or mental imagery is a technique that involves imagining yourself performing your sport. This allows an athlete to imagine your performance in a stress-induced environment,” Brett Johnson, author from SwitchedOn Training, said.

“If I had to share some advice for combating nerves, especially for student-athletes, remember you are where you’re supposed to be,” Hughes said.

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Jake Cavanaugh

Hello, my name is Jake Cavanaugh I am currently a Junior at Cabrini University. I am currently studying communications. One of
the things I enjoy about attending Cabrini is the ability to play on their lacrosse team, because they are very competitive, and the competition is some of the best in Division III. Another thing I enjoy about Cabrini is the community you create when you attend the school. Since I have attended Cabrini, the entire community has been nothing but welcoming. Whether through sports or academics, Cabrini has helped create an environment of people who are always willing to help you succeed in anything you do.

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