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Topic in Focus: Sport and Mental Health

Illustration of Brain analysis and DNA connecting line and dot.

The Effect of Sport on the Brain

Sport and physical activity have been shown to positively affect not only cardiovascular health and body composition, but also the complex brain systems implicated in well-being and mental health. Research suggests that physical activity can have a beneficial impact on a diverse range of mental health conditions - including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and depression - as well as enhancing general well-being. The hippocampus, a highly networked brain structure, is sensitive to the effects of physical activity. Learn more about the relationship between physical activity and the brain.

Mature father and adult son walking off soccer field after evening game with friends

Anxiety Management in Top Athletes

Anxiety is a frequent underlying cause for athletes failing to perform to their usual standard, particularly in situations of exceptional pressure (for example, a soccer penalty shoot-out or a return to competitive play after injury). Read more about the effects of anxiety on performance, including common coping techniques and examples of top athletes encountering anxiety-related issues.

Female pilates instructor assisting mature student on high-low chair during class in exercise studio.

Physical Activity and Psychosocial Well-being of Older Adults

Leisure and physical activity can make a positive contribution to the well-being, cognitive health and quality of life of older adults. Participating in activities such as social dancing, walking for exercise and swimming can provide opportunities for personal growth and stress reduction, as well as slow cognitive decline. Learn more about ageing-specific theories of psychosocial well-being, or view a demonstration of exercise diagnosis and prescription for older adults.

Sport in Focus: Basketball

Close up image of friends playing basketball at a gymnasium.

Performance Demands of Basketball

Basketball is a stochastic, intermittent high-intensity sport. It is characterized by periods of high aerobic oxidative and anaerobic glycolytic demands, continuous changes of direction that challenge the neuromuscular system, including accelerations and decelerations, jumps, sprints, physical contact, and sport-specific skills. Learn more about the application of high-intensity training to basketball performance, or view a short clip demonstrating the human movement of shooting in basketball.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers guards LeBron James of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on February 10, 2013 in Miami, Florida.

Basketball Legends

LeBron James’ intensity, skill level, and control are legendary. Many researchers have described this high-performance state as ‘flow’: the ability to pursue a goal and become immersed, without conscious awareness of the goal, objective or need to apply skills. Learn more about LeBron James, the concept of ‘flow’ and the harnessing of inner strength.

The story of Michael Jordan’s celebrated rise to greatness is characterized by rigorous practice. One of the most celebrated basketball players of all time, Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team but refused to let this set-back deter him. Jordan’s perseverance and focus on perfecting his technical and tactical skills propelled him to professional excellence. Learn more about expert performance in sport.

Much-missed basketball superstar Kobe Bryant described how the training he underwent as a youth contributed to his later success. Instead of an environment that over-emphasized competitiveness, he benefited from a training culture that prioritised skill development such as ‘fundamentals, footwork, spacing, back cuts’. Learn more about best practices for developing young athletes’ readiness for competing in sport.

Adaptive athletes in wheelchairs playing basketball together in a indoors sports court.

Wheelchair Basketball

Sport is universal. It provides common ground for societies around the world through the compelling performances of many differently-abled participants. Wheelchair basketball is the most played disability sport in the world: it has featured at every Paralympic Games since 1960 and is also commonly played at club and recreational levels. Learn more about designing wheelchair basketball programs and promoting inclusion.

All images on Featured Content and Home pages courtesy of Getty Images.