Just before England began their EURO 2016 campaign, England midfielder, James Milner, said that it was vital for his team to avoid losing their first match against Russia if they were to do well in the tournament. You might take from this that the team would be focused on doing well in their opening game.
Makes sense. But did Milner’s statement actually reveal an underlying attitude that could really hinder a team as they progress (or don’t) through major competitions.
Everyone loves a bit of mental toughness. Coaches will often tell you they only want athletes who are mentally TOUGH. Athletes strive to develop their mental STRENGTH. Sports journalists write and debate about which athletes are mentally TOUGHER than others.
In fact, mental toughness has become one of the most commonly used phrases in sports. I should point out here that I have no evidence whatsoever to support that last statement, but it seems like it’s probably true. Just search twitter for mental toughness or mental strength and you’ll see what I mean.
Last year, during the NBA Final Series between the San Antonio Spurs and the then LeBronified Miami Heat, I wanted to write about some of the more mental aspects of the game that came up.
I tried to pick out an interesting story or highlight from each game, something that I thought related back to the “Psychology of the Finals” and wrote a short blog post on that topic. For example, after the air conditioning in American Airlines Arena broke in Game 1, I wrote about the need to take control of the environment, rather than letting the environment give you cramp so bad you have to be carried off the court.
I wrote about the need to focus on What’s Important Now! after both teams seemed to spend the whole of Game 2 arguing with the refs. I wrote about the need for Short Memory Shooting, being completely prepared whether you’re a starter or the last guy off the bench, and a whole host of other areas of psychology that I thought characterised the Finals.
I taped each game (Sky+/Tivo for those of you born after 2000 who have no idea what a tape is), watched it the next morning, and wrote a blog while I was watching the game. To be honest, while I really enjoyed writing about the psychology
How do we keep all of our young matches lit? … That doesn’t really work as a metaphor.
In part one of this series of three blog posts, we looked at the characteristics of burnout. In part two, we explored various explanations for burnout, including stress, feeling trapped, lack of motivation, and the culture of performance sport. Here in part three, we’ll think about what we can do to reduce the chances of our young athletes burning out and maybe leaving sport behind.
Quitting sport isn’t the same as burnout, but it’s a potential consequence!
In part one of this three-part post on burnout in youth sport, we talked about what exactly burnout is. Essentially, long lasting feelings of emotional and physical exhaustion, sport devaluation (not getting anything out it anymore) and reduced personal accomplishment (no sense of achievement). Here in part two, we’ll explore briefly explain some of the theories as to how and why burnout occurs.
We’ve all had times when we’re feeling a bit tired and lacking motivation, when we don’t really feel like practicing or training, or when something we usually enjoy doing seems like a bit of a chore. More often than not, once we remind ourselves that we actually love what we do, or even take a few days off, we can get on with it and get back to enjoying our sport.
What exactly is burnout? …Is this picture even relevant? …So many questions.
But sometimes that feeling can last a bit longer and feel that little bit more intense. I’m sure the coaches reading this can think of young athletes that display those characteristics. Maybe you’re the parent of a kid who’s lost interest in sport. Perhaps they’re experiencing burnout, but what exactly is burnout? What causes it? And what can we do to stop our young athletes from burning out and quitting before they’ve even got going?
This three-part post is going to address those questions. I’ll try to answer the first one here, and then see about the others in part two and part three.
Most… probably all athletes who’ve achieved anything approaching success will have set goals along the way. There are a couple of theories as to how and why goal setting works.
One, called the Direct Mechanistic view¹, explains that goals direct your attention onto the task at hand, encourage persistence and motivation, and can even help you to develop new strategies for achieving what you’ve set out to achieve.
Derrick Rose sitting on the Chicago Bulls’ bench in a suit and tie became a familiar sight towards the end of the 2012-13 NBA season.
Derrick Rose sits on the bench during the 2013 NBA Playoff series against Brooklyn
One-time league MVP, Rose, underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in May, 2012, after getting injured in that year’s playoffs. But after several weeks of “will he/won’t he” speculation, Rose did not make his much anticipated return to the Bulls’ line-up, despite being delared medically fit to play.
Recovery from injury is not just about the physical rehabilitation of the athlete. Injury can have a psychological impact too, so returning to play can be a difficult time for any athlete