The mental side of sports


Katiana Williams, Review Staff

Feature Photo By: Izzy HoneLuis Cervantes (12) kicks a penalty kick, trying to score for Rangeview. Cervantes is a third year varsity player.

When people think of sports most people think of contact, cardio, and the physical side of a sport, but there is a lot more to the mental side of the sport. Behind athletes’ challenging faces are thousand of thoughts rushing through their heads.

Varsity assistant basketball coach Jon Sobolowski implied, “If you’re not mentally into it, no matter how talented you are, you’re putting a ceiling on your game.”

When I went around asking people what they think the most mentally challenging sports are, they most likely tend to say either football, basketball, or soccer. But in fact, none of those are even in the top five.

“I think every sport is mentally challenging in its own way because of that fact that it’s so self defeating,” says sociology teacher and former athlete, Mr. Sladek.   

On, a website that is set up and designed by doctors for health and information, the top five mentally challenging sports ended up being:

  1. Swimming
  2. Gymnastics
  3. Tennis
  4. Golf  
  5. Baseball/softball

For some, this may be surprising, but when you actually look at the reasons why, people say it definitely makes sense.

Swimming is considered the most mentally challenging sport because of the fact that swimmers go through what is called the 7-day-self-sabotage cycle, which is a case where most swimmers, seven days before a meet, are already doubting themselves. On top of that, if a swimmer has one little tweak in their technique, it can determine whether they’re first or last.

Rangeview sophomore and girls swimmer Avery Hill announced, “Its actually very challenging. You can’t lean on your teammates, you have to keep pushing yourself to go faster and work harder.”

Gymnastics falls at second due to the same reason as swimmers; they fall into that 7-day-self-sabotage cycle and have to figure out how to get rid of those nerves before they have their meet.

Senior Lawrence Tielung hits a ball fiercely, trying to get a point. Tennis is the third most mentally challenging sport. (Izzy Honey)

As for tennis at third, the reason is completely different; tennis players have to deal with the pressure before serving and not getting in their head before it. Tennis players also go through a lot during their match as far as going back and forth for a severe amount of time. After they get done with a set, they have to quickly regain their breath and refocus, and let go of the mistakes that they could have made. 

Falling at number four is golf. Many say that this is really surprising and say all they do is hit a ball. Golfers have a ton of time between each hole and ball. If a golfer messes up during a hole or on a ball, they end up with all of that time until they get to go again and start getting in their head about what they did wrong. Golfers have to worry about the wind and the angle in which they hit the ball which also make the sport mentally challenging.

At five is baseball and softball.

There is a saying in softball and baseball that was stated by Yogi Berra. “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”  

Many players have said that this is one of the quotes that pushes them through their mental mistakes. A great batting average in baseball and softball is a .333 and that’s 30%, the reasoning behind this is because hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports because of the fact that there are several different ways to get out.

“Baseball is a very mental sport because when you make a mistake it’s not like you can turn around and fix that mistake, you have to wait for a long period of time. If i’m at bat and I strike out, I may have to wait an hour and a half to make up for that mistake and I could strike out again,” Sladek announced.

Mental mistakes can be little or big but many say that you that you should not take them lightly. But don’t forget them because you have to take those mistakes and improve off of them.