It may come as a surprise that there are actually several benefits to stress. It’s a fact that you won’t get through high level, competitive athletics without stress. To start, its important to distinguish the different types.

Chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body and immune system. This type of stress needs to be managed. If you’re curious about stress management for athletes, check out my case study.

On the other hand, there’s eustress – a positive form of stress. Eustress is defined as any stress that motivates an individual towards optimal performance or health. It is very commonly experienced at practice when going through hard work.

There is also acute stress, which is a really high level of frustration if you’re trying to learn a new skill such as a drill or exercise. Another example is having difficulty getting along with a coach or teammate. Its crucial that acute stress is managed so it does not become chronic stress.

Here are four ways stress allows you to develop as an athlete:

1. Requires You To Get Stronger

Stress is necessary to build muscle. For example, to build muscle through weight lifting, you need to tear it down and rebuild it to get stronger.

2. Teaches Resilience

Moderate to acute levels of stress teaches resilience. The skill of being able to bounce back when things get tough only develops when faced with adverse conditions. You need to experience stress in order to know how to efficiently deal with stress when it arrises.

3. Increases Intensity

The increased intensity that comes with stress helps us to see the other side of it. It helps us to work at a higher level until we learn the new skill or exercise we’re working towards.

4. Counterbalances Joy

Stress is the counterbalance to joy. In your sport, you have a vision of what you want to accomplish. When you take the steps and finally reach that vision, joy can only be experienced if you went through the hardships along the way. You can’t have one without the other.

Embrace the stress! Understand that certain types of stress can benefit you in the long run but take extra caution to manage chronic and acute stress. Finally, be willing to get out and work hard every day!

Contact Erika Westhoff Performance for personalized advice on how to leverage stress to improve performance.