Does Mental Health Have an Impact on Young Athletes?


Photo used from permission of Audrey Parpart

Players from left to right: Captain Walter Beld, Captain Paul Lins, James Miller, Ben Shultz, Everett Clemens, Mason Young, Jonah Barden, Noah Johnson, Zander Kellogg.

Colton Mefford, Reporter

Mental health, emotions, and interactions–how much do these affect young athletes’ performances during games and practices? In addition, how much do sports impact how athletes feel after an event? In this article, we will explore the effect mental health has on a player during a sport and how sports can positively impact your mental health outside of exercising.

Happiness can be seen as an aid to performance and a sport is seen as an aid to mental health. As stated by the current cross country captain Paul Lins, “Yes, my mood definitely improves during practice. It’s a ton of fun running with a group of your friends around you.” His mental health has seen to be an increase in happiness after he runs and hangs out with his friends during practice. In the same interview, we also asked him if having a positive day before a meet made him feel or run faster. He responded, “Yes, having a good day can make for a faster race. . . . Although I will say, if I am angry about something, that can also be good motivation for a fast race.” Paul states that both happiness and anger can cause him to have better results. When he is angry, Paul channels his energy from that anger into the race, and it seems to have better or the same results as when he runs on a day when he is happy. This shows that mental health either happiness or anger can help an athlete with their sport.

Mental health can also affect how a player plays and the amount of focus they have. The amount of focus and hand-eye coordination can be affected by how happy a player is during their game or practice. During an interview with current LHS tennis athlete Claire Morgan, she stated, “My hand-eye coordination has seen to be worse when I am in an angry mood. Using a tennis racket to hit the ball takes a proficient amount of timing and accuracy, and when your brain is tied to other thoughts and anger, it can cause a negative impact on a game.”

Mental health can have huge effects on your performance. In an interview with LHS football kicker Brian Meitzner, he said, “I think emotion and mental health is a major if not the biggest factor when playing football … feeling sad or angry can decrease your output and it can throw off entire games or seasons.” Emotions and daily occurrences may not seem to affect the task at hand, but they may negatively or positively impact later activities.

In all, mental health plays a key role in our daily activities. It can throw off games and practices, or it can indefinitely boost them. These exercises can also have a positive impact on your life outside of sports. The focus on having a good day before a game could be the cause of you or your team winning or losing.