Your emotions affect every cell in your body. Mind and body, mental and physical, are intertwined, says Thomas Tutko, PhD, a pioneer sport psychologist at San Jose State University, who has consulted for the Dallas Cowboys, the Oakland A’s, and UCLA athletic teams.
Whether the reasons for becoming emotional are real or imaginary, your reactions are similar. When you become anxious during a game when you start to worry, Will I make it?
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I’ve got to get this hit or we are gonna lose your body starts to react almost as if the danger were not a lost game but a lost life. We carry this behavior pattern with us from prehistoric times as a survival mechanism and it works without our having to think about it. This automatic response was valuable if you were about to be trampled by a mastodon, but it has its disadvantages if you are trying to settle down and concentrate on the next play in the game.
Tutko adds that fight or flight does not occur in most sports situations; athletes usually experience its symptoms in a milder form.
Whether it is a high school girl aiding a friend in a car crash, an office worker trying to meet a deadline, or an athlete whose self- esteem is on the line, when faced with pressure or serious challenge most humans undergo a particular kind of physiological change. We have been programmed over millions of years to be able to summon extra strength, speed, or concentration when faced with a threat. Most of us have these mind-body alarm reactions every day in one form or another (see table 1.1).
As we become more technological and sophisticated with our robots scurrying around snapping photos on planets millions of miles away, we still do not know much about an everyday phenomenon back here on earth our mind-body’s alarm system. As far as we know it is as old as prehistoric man, yet we do not know enough about its potential. We do know that when faced with trouble, or what is
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