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Chapter 29

eBook-Chapter 29.docx

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PSYC 3480
Anneke Olthof

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Chapter 29 – Relaxation and Stress Management  "When you are relaxed, you can focus a lot more easily than when you are hyper and over-energetic. It's important to be 'up' for a competition, but you shouldn't have too much energy, because you might not be able to control it. In competition, it is important to be able to bring the power and energy you are feeling down to a level that you can control. This comes with practice and experience." - Elvis Stojko  Once athlete has learned to identify which mental, emotional, and body states accompany superior performance (i.e., zone of optimal functioning), he can learn to adjust responses voluntarily to set stage for superior performance  Some situations require more relaxed and more sensitive perceptual-motor skills  Once trained in relaxation skills, athletes can use mental strategies to lower general muscular tension under any situational demand or condition, and free themselves from self-doubt and anxiety  In learning to train muscles to relax athletes will develop much greater awareness and sensitivity to feelings and responses. Each athlete is different, have to learn their particular zone of optimal arousal in spite of ever- present and changing pressure  Muscle contraction influences information, which travels between muscles and nervous system, and in opposite direction. Impulses necessary for skillful, coordinated movements are inhibited to some degree by opposing impulses carrying information about anxiety  More uptight you feel prior to game time longer relaxation session should last. If athletes feel overly tense they should try to keep things in perspective  By staying focused on present, players can combat interfering physical and mental distractions which only act to increase anxiety  Relaxation training is mental skill and must be practiced on regular basis. Takes time to develop skills and mental training should be practiced both during season and over off-season, even though there may not be immediate improvement  Objective is to be able to relax on demand when pressures increase during competition Stress Management Training: Progressive Relaxation  Designed to reduce anxiety through systematic tension and relaxation of muscles groups throughout body. Based on assumption that tenseness and relaxation are contradictory states and cannot co-exist at same time  Athletes are asked to lie with arms to side, or sit in comfortable position with legs straight out between 6 - 12 inches apart  Take two or three deep relaxing breaths. Then take normal breath and tense left arm (fingers, hand, wrist, forearm and upper arm) for approximately five seconds, and then relax that tension while exhaling deeply  Following exhalation and for next 20 to 30 seconds attention is focused on feelings and sensations arising from gaining complete relaxation  While a specific muscle group is tensed the athlete is asked to maintain a state of relaxation throughout the rest of her body. Repetition of the tenseness-relaxation cycle of a particular muscle group should continue until the athlete can quickly and deeply elicit the relaxation response  Repeated by systematically tensing and relaxing in predetermined order right arm, then left and right legs (toes, feet, ankles, calves, thighs, and buttocks); abdomen, lower back, chest, and upper back; and shoulders, neck, and facial muscles  Instructed to periodically scan body for any area of tension o If one or more muscles groups feel tense, tension can be relieved by repeating technique of straining and releasing  Often lasts up to 30- 40 minutes, or longer o After few weeks of training exercise can be shortened because of acquired skills in relaxation, and ability to tense and relax groupings of several muscle groups concurrently  When combined with visualizations of peaceful, soothing scenes, relaxation response is further enhanced Stress Inoculation Training  Stress reduction technique in which sources of competitive stress systematically identified and defined, followed by learning and practice of appropriate coping behaviors  Athlete learns through discussion to recognize pattern of events that characterize stress reactions, and then use events as cues to start making adaptive coping responses - anxiety and stres
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