How Stress Can Affect Your Sports Performance

Stress is not usually associated with Surfing - we usually surf to decrease stress, however as stress builds around normal daily activities (work, family, competitions etc) more and more people are using surfing as an escape, a place to de-stress, and there is nothing worse than leaving the ocean in a stressed out state.
This is especially important for competitive athletes, if there is too much stress going on outside of surfing coupled with a negative attitude in the water this will have a detrimental affect on your surf performance. Stress is a huge topic that relates to hormones, nutrition, physiology and lifestyle choices, this article focuses on stress that may arise while in the water.
Surf coaches know that if the mind is not in the right place it is very hard for the body to respond well. Coaches also know that if your body is not strong, fit, in good alignment or pain free it is harder for the mind to be calm and focused. Getting the two in sync before getting in the water decreases physiological stress and is a good idea for the ideal surfing outcome.
Once in the water that is another thing - yes there are some jerks in the water, yes there are some grooms who paddle faster than a jet ski, yes it can be crowded. These are all things that can take you out and scramble your mind so instead of focusing on surfing you focus on those distractions. Here are some key points surf coaches use to get more out of every surf when stress rises within.
1. If you have something on your mind that is getting you down, let it go as you enter the water. Focus on the water and why you surf in the first place, coach yourself to say a simple reminder like, 'I have a great surf today' and think about that as you paddle out.
2. Remind yourself; 'why you are surfing at all?' Have a look around - everyone out there loves to surf. Watch other people surf or struggle and enjoy their experience, use their waves or falls to motivate yourself. Remind yourself you we're once a beginner and remind yourself you can always get better.
3. Focus on one simple task at a time - get out the back - then find your position - then choose a wave - etc. Keep it simple and keep your mind on the job at hand rather than focusing on other issues going on in your life. If your in a surf competition, have your game plan and focus on small specific goals along the way, one wave at a time, one heat at a time - just go one step at a time - and celebrate each small step in your action plan, this will motivate you more.
4. We are all going to be bummed out sometimes - falling, making stupid mistakes, going over the falls, missing waves - laugh about it, just let it go, surfers fall, that is apart of the game. In today's world there is enough seriousness and stress all ready, surfing is supposed to be fun.
A final thought.
Surfing is a beautiful sport that originally involved a lot of wave sharing and being less selfish, nowadays it seems everyone is in it for themselves, fighting rather than laughing and sharing. Dropping in is a selfish act that only causes stress for everyone, it creates tension around you and internally when you drop in you know there is a better way. By adopting the tradition of sharing with everyone you still will manage to get loads of good waves and better still, drop the stress and leave a good vibe in the water.
Hayden Rhodes has coached professional and amateur athletes improve their performance through scientific personal training, hormonal testing, nutritional coaching and performance conditioning principles.

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