Research into eSports athletes found they face stress comparable to elite athletes in more traditional sports, being equally highly pressure and competitive environments.
The study, titled ‘identifying stressors and coping strategies of elite esports competitors’, aimed to find more data on how sports psychology and specifically coping strategies could help improve performance of eSports athletes.
The second aim of the study was to better understand coping strategies eSports athletes employ to deal with stressors.
The research was based on interviews with seven eSports athletes recruited from four teams that competed in the ESL Premiership CS:GO Spring finals, the top national tournament in the United Kingdom.
The authors, Matthew J. Smith from the University of Winchester, Phil D. J. Birch and David Bright from the Institute of Sport at University of Chichester, were also from universities in the UK.
They interviewed the athletes about stressors like communication issues, team disagreements, tournaments and media interviews.
Players also complained of struggling to find a work-life balance, especially for those who were students, while also managing their lifestyle, with some sacrificing sleep in order to get enough training.
The coping strategies discovered included breathing and relaxation techniques to management through intra-team communication after matches, team camps and delegating roles.
The athletes also used avoidance coping strategies like removing themselves from stressful situations, for example refusing to shake hands with an opponent that riled them up or leaving a team they don’t like working with.
The study noted a CSGO team, Astralis, which served as anecdotal evidence on the success of using sport psychology to aid athletes.
The team, already considered one of the best in the world in 2016, hired a sports psychologist to help its members cope with stressors. The team went on to win in tournaments it had previously failed in, including ELEAGUE Major in 2017.