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Do Tattoos Help or Hinder Top-Level Athletes?




Many of the world’s top sports stars have eye-catching tattoos. In fact, in some sports it is becoming increasingly rare to see tattoo-free athletes these days.

Yet, have you ever stopped to wonder whether this type of body art helps them or holds them back? There are a few key factors to take into account when assessing this matter.   

Added Confidence

Whether you are in the NFL, the NBA or some other league, the need to be supremely confident rises as you get to the top of any sport. In fact, an unshakeable belief in their own ability is one of the key factors that set the big stars apart from others.

Does having the right tattoo instil more confidence in them? Some studies have certainly shown that people with tattoos feel more self-confident than those without them. It might seem like an insignificant matter, but every little bit of confidence helps at the top level of the sporting world.

If you take a look at the top NFL players or the latest odds of the NBA (click here to see) you will witness a lot of tattooed players at the top level. Having tattoos might not be what has got them there, but it hasn’t held them back either.

The Intimidation Factor

Trying to strike fear into opponents is another key concern in many sports. The likes of boxers and MMA fighters want to feel stronger and more aggressive when facing their opponents.

Having a tattoo is a part of this, just like putting on a tough stare or flexing your muscles. The right kind of tattoo might inspire the person who has it but terrify another. They can also help us to appear bigger and more muscular than we really are, in some cases. 

If you can put some doubt into the heart of your rival then you have gained a small advantage that could make all the difference at a crucial moment.

The Physical Benefits of Tattoos

The previous points are difficult to prove, as they largely come from the feelings that flit through the heads of athletes as they play. However, scientists have also worked hard to find solid evidence of the physical benefits offered by tattoos.

The American Journal of Human Biology published the results of a study that pointed out some interesting effects of tattoos. They found that body ink can enhance the immune system, lower stress levels and possibly even made us less susceptible to feeling pain, all of which are extremely useful for sports stars.  

Problems Sweating?

There have been very few negative issues discovered relating to tattoos and sports stars. However, researchers at the Alma College, Michigan have looked into the matter of whether tattoos make it more difficult for athletes to stay cool while competing.

Their study suggests that it can be more difficult for the body to release the sweat droplets needed to stay cool while we work out. They looked at 10 tattooed people and found that the sweat rate dropped from 0.35mg per centimeter on clear skin to 0.18mg/cm/min on tattooed areas.

What Does All of This Mean?

It is easy to see why so many sports stars like to get tattoos. There are several benefits to doing this, some of which are obvious while others aren’t so clear at first sight.

The only drawback appears to be the fact that tattoos may stop up from sweating as freely. It isn’t clear how big a difference this makes to an athlete’s performance, if any. So it is seen as something that is beneficial overall.

Taking all of the above factors into account, it is likely that athletes carry on getting more and more tattoos, to give them the increased confidence and added intimidation that can make a big difference.    



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