Sometimes, the mental health of elite athletes is taken for granted or made invisible. However, although it is an aspect that may not be perceived with the naked eye, the truth is that your mental state can excessively influence the physical performance of any athlete.

Achieving success in the sporting field requires both physical and psychological preparation, especially in the most critical moments or the greatest pressure in the challenges that arise. are presented to them.

What image do we have of elite athletes?

Normally, when we see people who are included in the elite sports sector, it is usually in matches or events related to the sport they practice. Sometimes, we can also see how they behave in interviews or participation in other settings, such as programs or press conferences.

It must be taken into account that elite athletes have to deal with pressure daily, not only their own, but that of the rest of the people around them: coaches, sponsors, fans< /strong>, etc. Because of this, and many times through comments or publications on social networks, the viewer can realize that something is happening or that the athlete may need some type of help or psychological therapy .

Can pressure be a problem?

In such extreme competitions, pressure is something that athletes must constantly deal with. However, it must be taken into account that, although these athletes are overcome by pressure, this does not mean that they have any mental health problems.

When news of this nature, such as that someone has abandoned or is not showing up to a competition, is presented, the first thing that is done is to question the reason. from that “escape”. The erroneous belief that these types of people “have it all” is what makes it so strange to everyone that they suffer from such mundane problems as stress or anxiety >. But, as happens with actors, that image of happy people and self-satisfied is just that, an image.

Does the type of sport have an influence?

It is true that there is a difference between team or individual sports.

In team sports, the athlete feels protected and welcomed by the group, and they have psychological support both jointly and in a more individualized way. .

On the other hand, in individual sports there may be a greater need for help, since they are more emotionally affected than teams.

Elite athletes interested in mental health

Let’s look at some examples of elite athletes who have been concerned or have shown interest in mental health issues:

  • Simone Biles: four-time Olympic champion gymnast, who has retired to focus on her mental health.
  • Naomi Osaka: tennis player who left Roland Garros due to the pressure caused by the press conferences.
  • Michael Phelps.
  • Rafa Muñoz.
  • Raven Saunders.
  • Rafa Nadal.

Functions of a sports psychologist

The main objective of a professional who offers psychological help to elite athletes is to improve their performance or meet their goals.

To achieve this goal, we can list a series of functions carried out by the sports psychologist:

  1. Assessment of the needs of the athlete.
  2. Regulation of the emotional response to external demands and self-control work through adequate pressure management and good stress control.
  3. Mentalization of the athlete for his/her competition.
  4. Increased concentration to avoid burnout.
  5. Make mental health visible in sport and humanize elite athletes.
  6. Increased self-confidence.
  7. Support during recovery from injuries.
  8. Teach the athlete to detectcheating thoughts and dysfunctional behavior patterns, and other signals that indicate that their mind needs to rest. li>
  9. Development ofpersonalized psychological help: depending on the case, it can focus more on self-motivation, good organization of time or strong>creation of conditioning routines and relaxation techniques.
  10. Promotes cohesion and group dynamics in team sports.

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