A Battle on the Field and in the Mind

Rayne Ellis
Athletes’ mental struggle is often overlooked in favor of their physical feats.

Anxiety is now the number one psychological issue being faced by college-age adults, with over 40 percent suffering from at least a mild case, according to the American Psychological Association. One group in particular might be more susceptible to this disorder than the average college student: the student athlete.

“With today’s athletes, there’s so much pressure to do well. College sports has become its own business,” NYU athletic trainer Roy Flores said. Flores acknowledged anxiety to be one of the most prevalent unspoken problems in athletics across the country. “Athletes have to perform, but they also have to please.”

“My anxiety is a compilation of doubts that I have accumulated throughout my past experiences. Whether it’s an old coach, teammates, or even myself, when I mess up there’s a voice in my head whispering ‘Why are you so bad at this?’” sophomore women’s volleyball player Gretchen Cash said. “Sometimes it helps me play better, but it can also lead to a complete collapse. It’s either a plus or a minus, never in-between.”

“Athletes have a lot more room for overthinking,” Flores said. “Students come to me all of the time complaining of too much stress or anxiety, and all I can tell them is focus on living in the moment.”

Flores commented that students in team sports tend to have worse symptoms than those in individualized sports. “More people are counting on them to perform,” he said.

“Soccer has brought out a lot of stress that I wouldn’t have known otherwise,” senior women’s soccer player Julie Glover said. “During season, the emotions I feel the most are being tired and stressed.”

Glover praised soccer for bringing her some of her closest friends, but said she couldn’t ignore the opportunities that it caused her and others on her team to miss.

“A lot of the stress comes from not being able to do the same things that other students are doing,” Glover continued. “Especially as a senior, the working world is competitive and some athletes have to put their careers on hold during their seasons.”

Flores agreed with Glover’s sentiment, offering similar observations.

“A lot of students feel like they have two full-time jobs,” Flores said. “When athletes come into college as freshmen, a lot of them say they feel as if they are drowning under everything.”

The average day for an athlete in season begins around 8 a.m. and doesn’t end until all of their work is done.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 14 print edition. Email Rayne Ellis at [email protected]



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