Athletes who perform at top level, experience more psychological problems than their recreational counterparts. Anxiety and aggressive behavior are more common  in athletes, like a negative self image and stress. According to a retrospective study conducted by Australian psychologists.

“Isn’t it wiser still to lose an extra kilo or two of weight?” “Are you ready for the race of your life?” Elite athletes often have to deal with such questions. These questions can have a significant impact on the mental resistance of athletes and appeal to their self confidence. It is possible that because of the higher mental pressure those professional athletes change their behavior at a given time or eventually even develop psychological problems.  Using retrospective study Australian researchers mapped the frequent occurrence of  psychological problems.


Elite athletes often experience psychological symptoms than recreational athletes. The researchers draw this conclusion after a total of 60 studies of individual athletes and team athletes. Previous research shows that up to about half of the top athletes suffers from psychological problems.

Pseudo anorexia                            Anger                                            Aggression

Athletes, whose body-weight is of importance for their sport are often obsessed with their weight and, perhaps not entirely surprisingly, are more likely to suffer from eating disorders and a negative self image. Figure skaters and rowers seem to find themselves often too fat, and it is known that judokas and cyclists vomit for example to lose weight. Both individual athletes and team athletes suffer regularly to anxiety, but also aggression is not an exception. Fear manifests itself in athletes especially as anxiety for underperformance, while aggression often occurs during matches.  Unknown is whether athletes have even more aggression off the field. Top athletes also experience stress regularly. They experience this stress among others by the pressure imposed on them by coaches or by the accumulation of injuries.

The researchers found the quality of the studies not optimal. That’s according to the researchers because accurate descriptions of the investigations are missing. This does not restrain the researchers from concluding that athletes are prone to psychological problems. They find the evidence so strong that psychological complaints are a serious problem in professional sports that they recommend the sporting world to devote serious attention to this matter.


Coaches should be aware of the fact that many elite athletes could be walking around with psychological problems. The fact that athletes can often suffer from these problems was proven by previous studies. Whenever a coach has the idea that his or her athlete is running around with psychological symptoms, it is wise to invoke professional help.