The more average the athlete, the more his performance will suffer under pressure, says John D. Curtis, health professor at the University of Wisconsin. In pressure situations, most athletes tend to get too aroused; that’s why they remain average athletes. They need to relax and let their body and training do their jobs. Elite athletes, though, can stand increased levels of anger and the adrenaline and other hormones it generates when they are performing a skill they’ve been highly trained to do, according to psychologist Charles Spielberger. For example, baseball slugger Darryl Strawberry has said he has his worst slumps when he’s not emotional enough. He claims to see the ball better when he is frustrated or angry. Strawberry can do that because he’s channeling his emotions into focus. He’s concentrating on one thing the ball coming at him at 100 miles
I thrive on emotions, says former tennis great Jimmy Connors. The emotional energy allows me to raise my level of play an hour and he’s got well-coordinated reaction developed over many years. He’s an expert, Spielberger said.
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Benefits of Arousal
Michael Johnson credits prerace pressure and physiological excitement to helping him record a stunning 19.32 seconds in the gold medal race of the 200 meters in the Atlanta Olympics, a sizeable .34 better than his old record. Where the hell did that come from? he said with a puzzled expression when looking up at the scoreboard timer after the race. But after he had cleared his head and reflected, Johnson credited the pressure of needing to win the race with charging him with extra energy, including a tremor throbbing through his body at the on your marks that sent him blasting out of the starting blocks .16 seconds after the starter’s pistol sounded. He then roared down the curved track at 25 miles per hour. Johnson related after the race,
There was pressure from the 80,000 people there who expect you to win, not to mention having the Olympic schedule changed for you, and all the years of magazine covers, photo shoots, people calling to try to take off the pressure but just making more pressure, and the fact that Frankie [Fredericks] and Ato Bolden were running really, really well . I thought that if I didn’t win this, a lot of things were going to be said that I would not want to hear . It dumped a whole ton of pressure into the mix. It was like one of my competitors coming up and hitting me. It was perfect because I always race better under pressure.
Along with extra speed and strength, psychologists believe that high stress can increase athletesmotivation and endurance and allow them extra energy. One January day in 1996, Roy Jones, Jr., awoke all excited because what was ahead of him that day he would become one of the first athletes to compete in two professional sports on the same day. I woke up early, all restless, like it was Christmas morning, he said. Jones went on to play that afternoon for the Jacksonville Barracudas of the United States Basketball League.
Benefits of Arousal
1. Added power (Physiological and Physiological), speed, and energy
2. Added drive, determination, and endurance
3. Sharpended concentration and hightened awareness
4. A feeling of being in the zone
5. Short-term pain-killing for even serious injuries
That night he successfully defended his IBF world super middleweight championship against Eric Lucas.
World cross-country champion Lynn Jennings, of Newmarket, New Hampshire, said that many times she receives increased power, confidence, and momentum knowing that her arousal hormones will kick in during a race. Describing her victory in a race in Connecticut, she says, I pulled the trigger with about 150 meters left.
I felt like Wonder Woman going up the hills.
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