OVER the years, sports terms and jargons have suffered linguistic overuse and misuse by people from all walks of life. But before the play of words floor their real meanings, here are some facts to shoot things straight.

Adrenaline rush

A sudden rush of the adrenaline hormone to the body, mobilizing it for fight-or-flight reactions. Glycogen is released from the liver, causing blood vessels to expand in the heart, brain, and limbs. This diminishes fatigue, speeds blood clotting, and provides extra energy for vigorous muscular activity. Adrenaline is sometimes synthetically induced through steroids or other black-market drugs.

Aggressiveness

Not as wild as you think. The term means assertiveness through intimidation without getting foul or offensive. The purpose is to inhibit opponents and leave them cowed and daunted.

Burnout

Not something fiery. This refers to the psychological, emotional, and physical withdrawal from a sports pursuit as a result of excessive stress and expectations that take the athlete down over time. This usually affects teenage sports prodigies, like tennis star Jennifer Capriati. She won her first gold medal as a professional in 1992 at age 16, but due to conflicting expectations from parents, the public, and herself, she burned out. The condition is reversible though. Capriati came back to win the 2001 Australian Open.

Competition

Not opposition, rivalry, antagonism, or the search for superiority over the other party. As experts put it, “rather than conceptualizing competition as a ‘war’ with one’s adversary, it should be looked at as a cooperative venture in which competitors agree to provide each other the necessary resistance to catalyze development of each other’s potential.”

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Injury

Any involuntary, physically disruptive experience that can harm, damage, or even terminate sports goals because of their psychological effects like depression, anxiety, and loss of wholeness. The psychological backlash is due to the fact that athletes invest much on their body for good performance in sports.

Momentum

Never mind Physics. Momentum here means the shift of course in a contest that can affect the perceptions of the competitors and the outcome of the game. It increases confidence, motivation, and concentration of the team getting the upper hand, but it can also trigger opponents to fight back more aggressively.

Overtraining

Too much of a thing is bad. When the body’s capacity to respond positively to the intensity and frequency of training is exhausted, overtraining occurs. This leads to a decline in motivation and confidence, or even to burnout.

Peak performance

The temporary “maximum level feat” of an athlete. There is no formula for achieving the peak aside from concentration. Training can however increase the chance for an athlete to peak in a game.

Skill

Not something “instinctual” or “God-given”. It is a particular ability learned and developed through training, which can be motor (physical), perceptual (sharpness of senses), and cognitive (intellectual). “Open” skills refer to skills exhibited in fast-paced games, while “closed” skills apply to games displayed with a mix of aesthetics, like gymnastics and skating. Reagan D. Tan

Source: “Sports Psychology: The Key Concepts” by Ellis Cashmore (2002)

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