Simone Biles and unprecedented Olympic pressure


Olympic athletes are Get used to the pressure. Before each Olympics, a handful of stars from each country will be selected as medal contenders. Their faces are plastered with billboards and newspapers, social media and yogurt advertisements.

They work with sports psychologists and performance coaches to help them cope with the desired pressure and develop psychological coping strategies to ensure optimal performance: visualization, breathing exercises, adaptability.But the Tokyo Olympics It has caused unique challenges that cannot be dealt with. Without their support system, some athletes felt the pressure.

These games are unique because they put the athlete’s mental health first.American gymnast Simone Byers Withdrawing from two games with fear of herself, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka-these Olympic spokespersons-also mentioned her mental health after being eliminated in singles matches. They will not be the only athletes facing these challenges.

Sports psychologist Josie Perry has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of people contacting her for help with performance anxiety during the pandemic. “There are so many differences in our lives, we are all closer to the edge of anxiety,” she said. “Certain circumstances bring us closer to the edge-in a place we are not used to, with people who are annoying us, starving, in a pandemic.”

Anxiety can affect performance by triggering so-called amygdala hijacking. The primitive parts of the brain short-circuit, bypassing more rational areas, allowing stress hormones to flood the body. This may cause fighting, flight, or freezing reactions-athletes may panic and make wrong decisions, or may focus too much on skills that should be easy and automatic. However, in addition to affecting their performance, anxiety can also cause emotional loss-as the pandemic has brought potential problems to the forefront, this is finally beginning to be recognized.

when Coronavirus disease When it first appeared, few people could imagine the final scale of the pandemic. For athletes whose entire training schedule reaches its peak in the summer of 2020, the delay is a heavy blow-some people face training challenges without access to equipment or venues, not to mention dealing with the virus and potentially debilitating long-term The long-term impact of premature recovery actions.

It wasn’t until the last month or so that we were able to say with certainty that the Olympics would actually even be held in 2021. “Anytime you put uncertainty in a certain situation, it brings psychological pressure,” said David Shearer, an elite professor of performance psychology at the University of South Wales. “Some athletes thrive in this area and meet challenges; for others, this may affect their health.”

The Olympic environment is far from what athletes expected-from the concentration camp when they arrived, to the absence of support staff who would normally be there but are now trapped behind video calls. Athletes may be distracted by the domestic situation, or compare themselves with competitors in other countries-do they have to follow the same strict rules? Is their training affected? “It opens the door to the possibility of losing control of negative thoughts,” Shearer said. “At this point, it’s the individual’s skill level in handling these ideas.”

“The whole game is completely different from what I am used to,” the British Jed Jones, Who was the favorite of entering women’s taekwondo, but lost in 16 rounds. “Usually my whole family is there, so when I come out, when I am afraid, their cheers will give me extra motivation. I fell into that fear mode today.”


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