Every month and a year, body peace in sports raises its head and the subject is repeatedly on the surface. Athletes talk about how their appearance, weight and body are publicly judged, coaches monitor weight and body composition, social media is full of critical comments. At the same time, there is talk of body peace and performance pressures.
First, it’s good to remember that everyone’s body works differently. Second, everyone has their own ideal weight and body composition for the best sports performance. When moving in elite sports, the margins between different individuals, as well as between themselves, can be very small. Performance is not measured by muscle size, visible abdominal muscles, knife-sharp muscles, and bulging veins are not a sign of better performance. Athletes should always practice performance first, not appearance.
Despite this, many athletes receive comments: “should you lose weight, you would be better”, “you are too skinny”, “— he/she is more masculine”, etc. In addition to these comments, some coaches also observe and try to control the athlete’s weight and body composition purposefully and continuously. For example, the University of Oregon performed regular DEXA scans for runners to measure bone density and body fat percentage. As a result, many athletes experienced extra stress and developed disturbed eating.
As many as 60% of training women have been diagnosed with a subclinical eating disorder. Pressure from coaches and pressures on weight and appearance in particular increase body dissatisfaction. In addition to eating disorders, athletes can develop a variety of mental pressures and symptoms. All of these negatively affect sports performance.
body peace in sports and measurements
If measuring body composition puts extra pressure, anxiety, negative feelings on the athlete, it should not be done. Body composition measurement can be one aid in addition to coaching, but it should only take place if the athlete himself/herself wishes to do so. Even then, there is no constant need for measurement. It should be careful consideration must be given to when the measurement is necessary and when not.
Although athletes’ performance is often measured in numbers, they are not numbers themselves. Practice and the life around it should focus on something other than continuous measurement. Coaches have a big role to play here, and constant measurement and pressure on the body can lead to a variety of illnesses and symptoms.
External comments about body and appearance can also be harmful, and athletes need to learn to deal with these issues. For no matter how much we want that people respect others’ bodies and leave their opinions to their own, this will hardly ever happen. The media also has a big responsibility here. News often focus on appearance-focused commentary about athletes. In the case of women, there might be more talk about clothing, hair, and appearance than the performance itself, and the angles of the pictures are different. Men also usually get comments on the amount of muscle.
You’re good enough
Remember, you are good enough. You are not a number, and your body composition does not determine you. Don’t compare yourself to others in your sport, as everyone’s body works differently. If your coach or another team member puts pressure on you in this area, bring it up. And if there is no change, change your coach.
Gibbs, J. C., N. I. Williams and M. J. De Souza (2013). “Prevalence of individual and combined components of the female athlete triad.” Med Sci Sports Exerc 45(5): 985-996.
Anderson, C. M., T. A. Petrie and C. S. Neumann (2012). “Effects of Sport Pressures on Female Collegiate Athletes:A Preliminary Longitudinal Investigation.” Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology 1(2): 120-134.