Pro athletes compartmentalize emotions. That doesn’t mean returning to the field after Hamlin’s collapse will be easy.


Injuries are common in high-impact sports like football. But rarely has there been a medical episode as painful. As Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest during a game. This week, something NFL players will remember when they take the field this weekend.

Finding support isn’t always easy.

“It’s scary,” Detroit Lions running back De’Andre Swift told reporters in a locker room interview. “We see injuries week in and week out. But something like this, you’re talking about a life-and-death situation. It’s a different kind of hit.”

Sports psychologists say that to play , athletes need to be skilled as well as mentally. Whether it’s nerves on the Olympic stage or pressure in their personal lives. They can focus on their sport – they need to be able to compartmentalize their emotions.

Some NFL players said they were struggling to do the same after Hamlin’s fall Monday night.

Calais Campbell, a defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens told. The New York Times that the injury Hamlin suffered before. His cardiac arrest made him question whether football was worth the risk.

“I kept thinking that I had faced hundreds of times like this and I was good. But what if I’m not good next time?” Campbell said Wednesday.

Although doctors haven’t revealed exactly what happened to Hamlin. It’s believed he experienced a rare phenomenon called. Commotion cordis, in which a blunt force hit the chest during a very specific window of a heartbeat cycle, knocking it out of rhythm. Although the condition may be serious, Buffalo Bills reported Thursday. That Hamlin is showing “significant” improvement and appears to be “intact.”

John Hale, a clinical and sports psychologist in Roanoke, Virginia. Said that commotion cordis is so unusual that it should be a consolation for NFL players.

Still, he added, because it’s rare doesn’t mean athletes should be reassured.

“It’s a good logical argument, but logical reasoning doesn’t always win over emotion,” he said.

Hale said players seek support so they can process. How they’re feeling — not so they can play better but, more , for their safety. In the 1980s, he was studying concussions on a football team. The University of Utah when a player died of a sudden heart attack. Weeks later, the number of concussions among the player’s grieving teammates increased, Hill said.

Yet seeking support is not always easy.

“What we’re taught to do in this game, because it’s such a ‘manly’ game. Is to hide your feelings, hide your emotions.” Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner told reporters Wednesday.

“it’s a myth,” he said. “Talking about your feelings and talking about things that affect you. Is more masculine than anything because it takes a lot of courage to talk about these things.”

Still, football culture has become more sensitive over the years. The mental health needs of its players, said Bill Triplett, 82, a 10-year NFL veteran.

In 1971, Triplett was a running back with the Detroit Lions. When his close friend and teammate, Chuck Hughes, died of a heart attack. Hughes becoming the only NFL player to die on the field during a game. There were 62 seconds left in the game when Hughes clutched his chest and fell to the ground. After an ambulance took him off the field, the game resumed in front of a shocked crowd.

“It was a given,” Triplett said.

He said he ended his football career within a year of Hughes’ death. And can now relate to players who are questioning the dangers of football.

“It was a shock to me,” Triplett said of Hughes’ death. “I decided it wasn’t worth it.”

Although elite athletes have excellent emotional performance skills that help them overcome distractions. They are often not taught what to do with their emotions once competition is over.

“They’ve been told their whole lives, ‘Compartmentalize. When you put on the helmet. When you cross the line, everything in your life goes away,'” Said Mark Awagi. Who has provided sports psychology services to NFL players. And is a professor of sports and performance psychology at the University. co-director. Denver. “When I go out on the field, how do I pick up those things and deal with it?”

A built-in support system – if players choose to use it.

Aoyagi advises athletes to identify what they are feeling. And recognize the intensity of the emotion. He encourages conversations with teammates. Who can provide a built-in support system if athletes are open with each other. Whether through conversations with the whole team or small groups.

Every NFL player has a different range of past experiences. And coping mechanisms that will affect. How they feel about their next game after what happened to Hamlin, experts said.

“One of the advantages of a fast-moving game is that it keeps your attention,” Hale said. “It’s a matter of jumping in.”

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