Archive for the 'Mental coaching' Category

The experiences of ultramarathon runners

Review

“It’s Not about Taking the Easy Road”: The Experiences of Ultramarathon Runners

Duncan Simpson,  Phillip G. Post,  Greg Young,  Peter R. Jensen 

The Sport Psychologist, 2014, 28, 176-185

Ultramarathon (UM) running consists of competitive footraces over any distance longer than a marathon, which is 26.2 miles  The distances of UM races vary from 31 to over 100 miles and are often distinct due to the challenging environments in which they take place (e.g., forests, mountains, jungle, and desert).

Research that has been conducted has primarily examined the sport motivations, changes in mood states, and sport-specific cognitions of UM runners. Research on UM participant motivations suggest that these athletes compete to experience feelings of personal achievement, to overcome challenges, socialize with other runners, and to be in nature.

Evaluations of UM runners’ cognitive orientations, race thoughts and mental strategies indicate that these runners are more confident, committed to running, have higher goal-orientations compared with other athletes, use dissociative thoughts (e.g., thinking of friends, music) and use several mental skills (i.e., imagery, goal setting, self-talk).

Results

The present study explored UM runners’ experiences of training and competition using the method of existential phenomenological interviewing: 26 participants ranging in age from 32 to 67 years.

UM Community was the most prominent theme that emerged from the interviews. Specifically, these participants perceived the UM community helped them to effectively prepare for events (e.g., obtain information on how to train), manage in race demands (e.g., support from crew members), discover new environments (e.g., running new races) and enhanced their sense of personal achievement (e.g., the exclusivity of the small number of individuals participating in UM).

UM Preparation/strategy highlights the amount of time, dedication, and personal sacrifice needed to be a successful UM runner. While prior research indicates that training hours are key predictors of success, it does not adequately describe the dedication and sacrifice made by these runners. UM runners train for long periods of time without large incentives (e.g., monetary rewards, sponsorships) or established training protocols (e.g., coach, training guidelines). To train effectively these UM runners often sacrificed social relationships, family, and work needs. Therefore, the incentive to train and decisions about nutritional/training needs largely rested with each individual.

UM Management is consistent with prior UM research examining cognitive strategies and goal orientations. With regard to goal orientations, prior research suggests that UM runners focus on task goals (i.e., process) more than outcome goals (i.e., winning the race). This was supported in the current study, with the majority of participants indicating that they were primarily focused on simply doing their best. This included running specific time goals or simply finishing the event within the allotted time. In terms of cognitive strategies, participants described using goal setting, self-talk, attentional focus strategies, cognitive restructuring and imagery to assist with managing the physical and mental demands of the race.

UM major factor in dealing with pain was being able to accept the pain. Specifically, before the race participants acknowledged that the run was going to hurt, and as long as the pain did not exceed a certain threshold, it was viewed as a normal aspect of the race. Several runners also described using associative strategies to manage pain.

UM Discovery and personal achievement suggest that UM are motivated to participate in these races to experience personal achievement, to push themselves beyond their perceived capabilities, and to experience nature. Discovery was also about exploring the unknown, overcoming fear, and unveiling new personal insights (e.g., that they were capable of running a much farther distance than they thought possible).

 

Good questions need good answer

14th ENYSSP CONFERENCE in Zagreb, Croatia. 26th to 28th April 2018

Dybala’s expectations lead pressure

Expectations are the main killer of the athletes’ confidence, you expect to perform at the best thanks to the talent and training, nothing more wrong, it’s not enough. Probably Paulo Dybala seems to have fallen into this trap. He has all the qualities necessary to become one of the world’s best players, then the pressure of having to show on the pitch he’s ruin. It is a common mistake of many athletes of the highest level, they load on their shoulders this unnecessary pressure reducing the skill to compete at their best. Even the Brazil team before the soccer World Championships in Rio expected to win, instead the team collapsed under the inability to handle this pressure or Andy Murray has won far less when compared with his real competences but struggled a long time to learn how to take off from the shoulders his expectations and those of an entire nation that after so many years had finally found a champion in tennis.

The expectation to win, to score a goal or to lead the team are certainly important, nobody comes into game to lose or play badly. We have not to confuse these beliefs, they should be left in the locker room, with the actual behaviors that we must bring into play to achieve them. Expectations can be also extremely positive but the players have to know how to translate into competitive goals and behaviors. This determines the difference between who is reliable and who thrives on fantasies that himself and others (sponsor, coach, team, family, manager).

The current competitive stress management strategies have the purpose to teach athletes to identify which are the mental processes determining the success on the field of  behaviors focused for achieving the goals. Unfortunately, the talent can be an obstacle to developing this mental and physical readiness status, because the athletes can believe that their skills will be enough. When this happens the fall is even harder, because there is a growing risk to doubt their abilities, entering in a negative spiral, that  from match to match can lead to isolate themselves, to feel misunderstood and to expect that at some point the lucky star magically will return to shine. This vicious circle must be blocked and the athletes should get help from a professional to establish concrete and challenging goals to reach and identify the behaviors needed to achieve them. For Dybala this difficulty could thus become an important opportunity for personal development and growth, to achieve a conscious sport and human maturity.

Mind skills in gymnastic over 14

  • Routine: Total command of the routine, regardless of competitive environment and situation.
  • Recovery: Focus on recovery and regeneration strategies
  • Mental skills: Imagery, concentration, emotional control, positive self-talk and relaxation, self-regulation, adaptive perfectionism and self-confidence
  • Team: Team competitive events bring different pressures, and require development and management of team work skills
  • Media: Managing interviews and media events
  • Training: Managing distractions and interruptions in training, while maintaining peak performance over the long term
  • Coach: Takes a stronger role in decision-making, working in partnership with the coach
  • Ethics: relating to competition and social maturity
  • Life: Balance through outside interests and friends, education
(Source: Adapted from http://www.gymcan.org/uploads/gcg_ltad_en.pdf)

The best way out is always through

Mind and physical training in equestrian sports

The best athletes suffer of emotional overload

TAIS is a system for assessing attentional and interpersonal style and these data show that élites’ emotional overload is an important component reducing their performance, including world record holders, who instead suffer less the environmental distractions and cognitive mental overload. This also explains why top athletes use psychological preparation programs to reduce competitive stress.

Coaching must develop awareness