The case Biles in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics and the importance of psychology in sport

Surely this week you've been listening to talk everywhere Simone Biles, American artistic gymnast, seven times National Champion, 2 times Olympic champion in Rio 2016 and five times champion of the world.

Why are we talking about her?
Is that just this week in the Tokyo Olympic Games 2021, the athlete has withdrawn from the olympics due to mental health problems. She has been acclaimed and supported by all RRSS to have done so brave statement as she could not have said it clearer: "Mental health is equal or even more important than physical health. I think mental health is more present in sports right now. We have to protect our mind and body and not limit ourselves to doing what the world wants us to do. As soon as I entered the mat, we are only my head and me, dealing with demons in my head. I have to do what is right for me and concentrating on my sanity and not endangering my mental health and welletationr. " Declare.

From a sporting point of view the sports psychology It is an intersection between psychology and sports sciences, the principles of this opinion which applies to each area. This intersection can focus it from two different points of view:

  • The psychological factors that influence the participation of sport and
  • The effects derived from participating in a sport.

The psychological functioning of athletes is equally important for their performance than physical, technical and tactical functioning. In addition, psychological functioning can influence positively or negatively on all these factors, so it is very important to control the mental aspect in the right direction. It would be ideal that psychological preparation was integrated into training, since being "outside the field" is worse than not knowing how to play.

What role does the coach regarding the athlete?

The coach is one of the most important figures in the world of sport, so leading a good relationship with their players is fundamental. We can focus on the relationship with a player in two ways, based on rewards or criticism. While both are well applied, as a general rule, the most commonly used is the positive, in addition to being the most recommendable, as it helps increase the motivation of the player and in turn responsibility with the objectives.

Let's see how we can keep our players motivated:

  • Concentrate on teaching and practicing sports skills.
  • Change your activity frequently.
  • It establishes realistic expectations for each player based on their capabilities.
  • Make demonstrations, giving short and simple instructions.
  • Reward not only the results, but also technical execution and effort.
  • Use a positive approach to correct errors.
  • Alters the rules slightly to increase the action and participation of players.

What psychological aspects are the most important to take into account during the preparation of your players?

The motivation: We can define it as the intersection of the subject that the subject has towards the task and desire that it employs in the fulfillment of this.

Self-confidence: It is the degree of certainty or security that the subject has to perform a certain action or driving skill. Confidence produces in the subject positive emotions and facilitates the concentration of the subject in the task to be carried out, in addition, it influences the degree of achievement of objectives by increasing both the intensity and the duration of the effort, interferes with the strategies of the game and affects to the other psychological variables.

Concentration: To optimize the performance of the footballer, it must be able to develop the four possible types of attention, width, external, narrow and internal. In spite of this, and as we have mentioned above, the focus of footballer's attention along a match, and therefore, it also does the concentration of it.

Activation: We can understand it as how active the player's body is, we understand it as the gradient between deep sleep and maximum excitement.

Anxiety: It is an emotional state that includes sensations of nervousness, concern and apprehension, related to the activation of the organism. According to this, anxiety has a thought component called cognitive anxiety and a component of somatic anxiety that constitutes the degree of perceived physical activation. The most important anxiety generating sources within any event related to football are the following:

  • The fear that can produce failure, which generates a high level of anxiety especially with regard to what the family, friends will say, public ... that is, anxiety is determined by the contempt or rejection that could suffer in the future The footballer regarding a certain point or match.
  • Fear of not being up to the necessary height of the competition, that is, the player has a disparage towards himself that he generates a high degree of anxiety.
  • Somatic and psychological manifestations.

Stress: There is a reasonable number of stressful agents in football. These stressful agents influence performance through different processes, weakening it (bringing negative responses), or strengthening it (helping players use individual resources effectively and efficiently in sports situations).

We have detected several agents that bring stress to soccer players, some of these are:

  • Importance of the event: As a general rule, the more important a football match, the more stress it produces in the athlete.
  • Level of uncertainty: When the footballer faces another subject of similar conditions, the uncertainty caused by the same situation can be a source of important stress.
  • Anxiety level: Feature that has a footballer.
  • Self esteem: The degree of football player self-esteem produces that stress is more or less relevant.

Stress is influenced by multiple variables, especially those that make up the subjectivity of the individual, in this sense the cultural variable is very important. The way to evaluate a certain stimulus is different according to the cultural belonging of the subject and is also the form of confronting stress. This will bring differences in the way that stressful stimuli affect the subject.

In short, football player and any athlete is bombarded with endless factors that condition their performance, which is why the work of a good coach is to know when something does not walk well and give a push in the right direction. Many of our students refer their players to psychologists to favor individual and team performance as recommended to serious situations in our Master's Degree in Coaching and Sports Psychology, but the important thing is to be able to detect and know how to act before these situations and have the correct training will help you and the welfare of your team.

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