Photo by Kyle West
By: Adriana Skaljin
Being in athletics, especially at a university level, can add pressure to the lives of athletes. Whether it comes from personal expectations, or those of coaches and fans, pressure can affect both their physical and mental states.
Matt Quiring, who has been a forward for the McMaster men’s basketball team for four years, began playing due to his family’s love for the sport.
“I started playing when I was in the third grade, but started playing competitively in Grade five,” said Quiring. “I’m glad that my parents forced me to play, considering that I was shy. It got me to where I am today.”
Through basketball, Quiring met many important coaches and players who provided him with opportunities he would not have experienced otherwise.
“Basketball also taught me hard work ethic, [which] I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else,” explained Quiring. “This skill can be translated later on in life.”
Sefa Otchere, first-year starting guard, also acknowledged the ways in which basketball has positively impacted his life.
“[The sport] is still impacting my life,” Otchere said. “Playing sports made me get out of my house, and [ultimately] showed me different places [while] making new friends.”
Both players also commented on the pressures that playing at a university level places on them.
“There is a lot of pressure that comes with the sport, both academically and athletically,” said Quiring. “It can get to you a lot of times. The mental and physical struggles can become taxing.”
Quiring and Otchere have implemented motivational strategies to work through their doubts and create a positive mindset when going into their games.
“[The pressure] is something I’ve struggled with,” said Quiring. “Recently, I have increased my confidence and have used pregame techniques given to me by a sports psychologist. There is a whole mental side to preparing.”
Otchere has a similar approach to handling pressure, starting with not putting expectations on himself.
“Basketball should be used to relieve stress and pressure, rather than provide that. I try and remind myself that before games,” said Otchere. “I make sure to remember that I need to go out and have fun.”
A healthy mindset is also important when coming back from a loss or a tough game. Recently, the Marauders suffered back-to-back tough losses against Brock University and Western University on Jan. 30 and Feb. 2.
“It’s always hard coming back from a loss because you have to watch the film and look at your mistakes. Then you have to fix them before the next game,” said Otchere.
— McMaster Men's Basketball (@MacMensBball) January 19, 2019
“You need time to mourn the loss, in a sense,” added Quiring. “After that, you need to put it behind you and realize where you messed up, and then learn and move on.”
Otchere also had to prepare for his comeback after his injury earlier in the season.
“I felt like I had to get my [groove], and confidence back,” said Ochere. “I also had to do extra practices to physically get back into the game as well.
Going into the end of the regular season, the players have applied these techniques as a means for achieving their goals.
“Besides winning, we want to make it to the final four and get to nationals,” said Quiring. “[Coach] Patrick Tatham preaches consistency [and] sets up team and individual workouts to develop skills needed to achieve our goals.”
“We need to make it known that we are one of the best teams,” said Ochere. “[All of] my focus is towards playing right and making playoffs.”
It is evident that both mental and physical health are important towards the well-being of athletes. The McMaster men’s basketball team’s perseverance and passion for the game will definitely be reflected in the upcoming games and in their journey towards nationals.