Signs & Symptoms of Stress in Sports

By Jack S. Waverly

golfer tees off on dogleg left
Golfers suffer from stress as any other person in any other career. Stress is usually self-inflicted and can show through many signs and symptoms. Stress in sports can impact an athlete psychologically and physically. Without proper prevention or treatment, it can have a lasting impact on the person as well.


There are three categories for signs and symptoms of stress in sports in regards to over-training: movement coordination symptoms, conditioning symptoms and psychological symptoms. Movement coordination includes signs of disturbance in rhythm of movement, lack of the ability to concentrate, increased re-appearance of cramps or inhibitions to movement and reduced power to change or correct movements. Signs of conditioning stress include diminished endurance and increased recovery time, fear of competition and a reduced readiness to compete, a departure or confusion in normal tactics and an increased tendency to abandon the effort before finishing the competition. Psychological signs can include increased irritability, hysteria, contact avoidance with other team members or coaches, obstinacy, increased insecurity and anxiety and over-sensitivity to criticism or poor incentive.

General Stress

Lifestyle, environment and health issues can cause signs and symptoms of stress in sports. Lifestyle signs to look for include inadequate sleep or irregular routine during the day, use of alcohol or drugs or excess use of caffeine, poor living conditions, no relaxation time, nutritional deficiency, a hurried state, frequently adjusting body weight and taking on more stress than able. Environmental signs include overburdened with family issues, personal relationship problems, dissatisfaction with life, bad assessments in school or training, conflict of attitude between sports and nonsports-related people and increased burden or excess of outside stimuli. Health symptoms can include physical illness, chronic illness or the after-effect of an illness.


Overexertion is one of the most common causes of stress in sports. This includes a rapid increase of needed effort after a forced break, such as an injury or illness, or too much time spent working at maximum or near maximum capacity. Demands that are increased in frequency or capacity can also cause signs of stress in athletes. If recovery is neglected, or improperly adjusted, it can lead to physical stress.


Treatments for stress in sports include the elimination of the stress-related issue. All performance checks and the pressures of competition should be removed. Recovery and stress reduction should become the primary goal of the athlete as soon as the first symptoms are noticed. A few of the better methods of preventing the signs of stress include remaining hydrated, maintaining regular hours of sleep, maintaining a proper diet, avoiding over-training and practicing stress management.

About the Author

Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.