3 min read

Stress and Performance of Esports Athletes

Stress and Performance of Esports Athletes
Happy Sunday, everyone.

Stress is a major factor for professional athletes and their performance. Today, we’ll look at another study investigating stress and its impact on other factors relevant to performance, widening the view of a complex interplay. We'll see which stressors causes sleep problems and decreased performance.

📜 The Study

In 2020, Lee et al. published their paper investigating sleep characteristics and risk factors of Korean Esports athletes. The aim was to investigate sleep aspects as well as risk factors impacting sleep. As we’ve seen earlier, sleep a major contributor to performance in every discipline, including Esports.

The authors interviewed six people, including three progamers and three coaches. 138 meaning units (Interview data) were clustered into six categories, one of them being stressors. As you can see in the figure below, stressors act as a connecting piece that leads to sleep risk factors.

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😟 Six Stressors

As the graphic also shows, the authors identified six main stressors in the life of Esports athletes. Those are:

  • A burden on the game: this refers to performance, and athletes feeling guilty when not performing their best
  • Stress from an uncertain future: job instability and Esports athlete being a stressful profession. This can cause short-term depression and anxiety.
  • The lack of appropriate stress management methods: there being a lack in support from the team and organizational side, when it comes to providing support in order to deal with stress.
  • Stress from the starting line-up competition: Progamer having to compete with teammates in order to be chosen for the starting line-up of a team. This may cause short-term depression.
  • The lack of social support: not being around friends and family and having adequate support, and
  • Peer-relationship stress: communication is a big factor here, as communication with your teammates is vital. Players being having various nationalities can cause stress too.

Those stressors cause stress which, in turn:

“[…] can have a (negative) effect on mental health and sleep quality.” – Lee et al. (2020)

Two of the stressors found in the study echo results we’ve looked at a while ago, which are athletes' performance expectations – the goal of winning and performing on a high level – as well as social media, causing emotional distress from criticism.

💪 What to do as a (pro-)gamer?

In the newsletter from three weeks ago, players named coping strategies, including talking to friends and family, self-regulation including sleep and self-talk, or increased effort and focus. Lee and co-authors conclude that there is a need for interventions to reduce the amount of stress.

“There were demands for education in communication skills, emotional management skills, and sleep improvement programs including psychological counseling. Improving awareness of the importance of good sleep has been addressed as the most helpful factor in sleep improvement programs.” – Lee et al. (2020)
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Doesn’t matter if you’re a casual, progamer, or somewhere in the middle. If you are looking to improve your performance, taking a closer look at what causes you stress is vital. Figuring out stressors and ways to deal with it will benefit your in-game performance, and life in general. A cheap and easy way appears to be talking to friends and family, working out, and getting enough sleep. Taking care of your body and mind is the basis for any kind of performance!

Hope you all have a great week. Cheers,

Christian 🌝
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