Optimal performance by athletes is the result of a cocktail of multiple individual factors. Athletes get into the zone, as some might say, and can exhibit extraordinarily high skill levels with actions driven automatically and effortlessly.

Optimal performance is driven by a combination of excellent physical health and mental health. The physical component is stressed more often than not. However, the mental health component is delegated little to no attention.


Sports and mental health have an intertwined relationship. Sports affect the mental state of athletes. In turn, the mental state of athletes plays a big role in their performance level. It helps battle addiction by causing the person to find something else to focus on other than substances.


Over the years, sports have had a great impact on the mental health of their participants. Sports improve mood and potentially lessen depression. It increases attention and concentration. Sports cause the brain to secrete endorphins that lead to a reduction in pain and stress levels. They fill up leisure time, thereby lessening loneliness and boredom.

These benefits have been noticed more in those who play team sports. Team sports include football, volleyball, and basketball. Team sports help foster a sense of community, teamwork, and accountability. They also boost self-esteem.

If the competitiveness becomes excessive, as is the case with some professional athletes, the benefits could become not so beneficial. The amount of pressure put on them to perform at their best becomes too much for them to handle. Thus, sports become a stressor for them, as opposed to a stress reliever. Be competitive, then learn to control it, so it does not become toxic.


There is no doubt that multiple factors affect athletic performance. Issues relating to mental health constitute some of these factors. Anxiety, PTSD, stress, depression, substance use, and grief from the recent loss of a loved one are some mental health-related issues that could impede optimal athletic performance.

In the words of Dak Prescott, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, “If I hadn’t talked about those things to the people I did, I wouldn’t have realized my friends and a lot more people go through them — and they are as common as they are.”

These mental health conditions are more common than people think. With proper awareness geared at reducing stigma, more people can come forward to seek help when they need it. Of course, this would result in better performances by these athletes.

When all is said and done, the goal is optimal living. People should engage in sports more as a means of coping with stress, filling up extracurricular time, and attaining optimal performance in sports and other spheres of life. It does not have to be anything rigorous too. 20 to 30 minutes of walking away would do you a lot of good.

1 Comment
  1. Dagger says

    Team sports include …. *but not limited to!

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