The effects of stress are well known and in top level sports, the effect that stress can have on the mind, body and performance are well-documented. However, there is little information about the stress levels esports professionals encounter at the highest levels of the game.
But thanks to a new study by the University of Chichester, experts are now gaining a better understanding of the stresses and strains of competing at top level esports and their findings seemed to show that professional esports players experience many of the same stress issues and factors as their sport-based peers.
51 Different Stress Factors
The study took a look at a number of elite esports professionals and the competitive scenarios and environment that they regularly find themselves working in. It found that esports players suffer a ‘considerable’ amount of stress when competing.
Furthermore, of the 51 different stress factors identified by the study, esports players were likely to experience them as much as other traditional sporting competitors were.
Factors included within the 51 included issues with an inability to communicate clearly and effectively, stage fright, nerves about performing in front of an audience to their highest ability and similar.
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Echoes of Earlier Studies
Although the University of Chichester Report is esports-specific, its findings echo a number of other reports that were conducted onto the stress factors that traditional sporting athletes would find themselves subjected to as part of their competing.
Comparing the reports, it seems to show that both esports and sporting athletes are not only under severe stress at times, but they are also experiencing the same issues related to that stress and the reasons that underly the stress are often one and then same.
One of the co-authors of the study, Dr Phil Birch, a senior lecturer in sport and exercise physiology at the university, stated:
“Esports has become a multimillion-pound business attracting audiences worldwide, but there is little research into the psychological factors that influence players.
“We have discovered that gamers are exposed to significant stress when competing in top-flight contests. By isolating these stressors, we can help esports players develop coping strategies to deal with such stressors and optimise performance while playing at the highest level.”
The study primarily focused on high ranking professional players that play the team-based game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
From these findings, the authors of the report have recommended that top level esports players are given specialist training to help them learn coping techniques to deal with stress more effectively, and to allow themselves to better prepare for the pressure of competing in esports at the highest levels.
Speaking about the report, ESL Chief Operating Officer Rob Black stated:
“As an industry, we’ve known for a long time that stressors on top level players can negatively affect their performance.
“This study proves this and reinforces what we have been saying for years. Further developments are needed in this area, and that will be key in ensuring the number of professional players continues to grow worldwide.”
Esports course leader at the University of Chichester, Rams Singh, a former European esports champion, stated:
“This study is important for the industry. We must understand how we can best support the health of our gamers and keep them performing at the top level – just as any other professional athlete.”
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Image courtesy of LoL Esports / ESL