- CARD professionals provide assistance to athletes from the age of 14 to be able to face different situations in their activity.
Much is said about strength, speed, intensity training. Also kinesiology and physiotherapy are other pillars that stand out in sport. But some time ago the so-called “invisible training” began to take hold, just as important as all those mentioned above. It is about the mental training of athletes whose main objective is to enhance psychological skills to have a better performance and better psycho-emotional well-being.
From the Kempes Sports Center, through the professionals who attend the High Performance Sports Center (CARD), This benefit is offered to all federated athletes, from the age of 14. Even coaches can also inquire about this accompaniment.
“Working hard on prevention is essential, that can prevent many pathologies that may arise throughout the sports career such as eating disorders, anxiety disorders or sleep disorders”, explained Carina Juárez, sports psychologist (registration N ° 7596), who has worked at CARD since 2013.
And I add: «In the part of working on psycho-emotional well-being is where the professional can identify if these indicators arise and make the corresponding referral or work it with the patient. We also work to prepare parents and coaches to be a containment network ».
The support of the athlete is also one of the fundamental pillars, both on the part of their families and their close environment. It is from there where you can also detect some indicators that generate alerts. «If symptoms or indicators of recurrent sadness, loss of interest, inability to feel pleasure in activities that felt motivation or pleasure, lack of self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, lack of appetite are perceived and that begins to last over time, it would be good to do a consultation with a professional »Juarez explained.
As mentioned, in these situations the athlete’s environment plays a key role since sometimes criticism, ridicule or stigmatization does not help. “When an athlete goes to consult, they are stigmatized or criticized for being ‘weak’ or that they ‘don’t know the bench’ or that they want to attract attention because they were removed from the team or due to some particular situation. These indicators should not be underestimated or stigmatized »emphasized the professional.
The coronavirus pandemic and the stop in sports
2020 was an atypical year and it affected different activities, including sports. This sudden brake and more so in such an important year in which the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were scheduled to take place disrupted the plans of many athletes who were already classified or who were trying to qualify for this event. This also caused many athletes to begin to notice the need for mental training. In that sense, from the Córdoba Deportes Agency the service was always available.
“At least online, it was important that the athletes had this opportunity because many of them experienced symptoms of uncertainty and anxiety or difficulty sleeping. The agency service, although it is not clinical but sports, is important since there is a professional and indicators can be identified. Once identified, a diagnosis is made and a psychologist or psychiatrist is intervened or referred “, Juárez detailed.
Among the athletes affected by the pandemic was María Laura Rodríguez, she had started 2020 with the aim of qualifying for the Games, but everything was quickly frustrated. For the sports shooting athlete. There were several months that he had to stay at home training only the physical part since he did not have the elements to train his sport. And going from that stop to training was something that also generated a great change that decided her to start working on her mind.
“I started working on mental aspects last year because of this whole issue of the pandemic, for all the time that I was without training. When we returned it was quite a sudden change and it seemed super important to me to do a mental training especially when you are in high performance and have big goals to meet. I feel like I changed and improved a lot », said María Laura.
«We did work in many aspects. In my sport, concentration is very important and it is very difficult to achieve and we put a lot of emphasis on that. The issue of nerves in a competition, too. No matter how hard you train, the competition makes you nervous. We did a lot of self-confidence exercises, especially exercises that are useful for my sport, which is very mental », detailed the 21-year-old athlete who still dreams of qualifying for Tokyo, for which she has two more competitions in April and May.
And concluded: «It is totally recommended. I feel that it was a very big change, not only I but the people around me perceive that you know how to handle situations. The mental and emotional issue is fundamental in sport since it can also have physiological repercussions. He can play tricks on you ».
Logically Rodríguez was not the only one affected by the pandemic, the member of the Argentine Karate Team, Valentina Castro also felt the abrupt change in routine and decided to contact CARD professionals again.
«The pandemic hit me very hard. The first few months it took me a lot to understand that I couldn’t go out and compete. I felt bad emotionally and there I looked again to consult the Kempes. All the lack of motivation that I generated from not training well and not knowing when it would finish or when I was going to compete again had me so distressed that I needed someone to help me settle in. It helped me a lot to get through this stage of the pandemic. Your head is exploding »Castro said.
Valentina had already started working on these aspects in 2018. «In 2016 I went from one teacher to another and these new teachers began to take me more to that side that the person is more than just the physical part and we began to work on the mental and emotional side. In that year I decided to compete seriously and be fixed in the national team and in 2017 I wanted to start doing something else with a professional because I saw that I needed it. There comes a time in the competitive stage where the levels are even and it is the little things that make the difference. What you can improve, you have to improve to have more performance and I started looking for the mental training side », he expanded.
On the aspects in which he managed to grow thanks to this work, he indicated: “The biggest change was just I started. It helped me to order things, to prioritize with respect to everything that had been happening to me. Knowing how to handle myself on the scales of emotions that I was feeling and knowing that some things were more important than others. I started doing more specific jobs and started to understand things that were going on in my head while training or competing and being able to handle them. I was able to maintain an even state of mind ».
Depression in sports and the importance of accompaniment
Another aspect that causes concern in coaches and their families is depression in the sports field. “The first thing to understand is that depression is a mood disorder. There are different levels depending on the number of symptoms, intensity, duration and frequency. There you can make a diagnosis and know if you have depression and if it is mild, moderate or severe and therapeutic measures or treatment are taken to work on that depression », said the professional Carina Juárez.
In addition, he provided certain figures that give an overview of this disorder: «The most important thing is to understand that it is a disorder and that anyone at any stage and at any age can have it. There are more than 300 million people who have it in the world and in Argentina the World Health Organization said that 1 in 20 people could be with depression ».
Given what can be done to help and accompany people who were diagnosed with depression, Juárez explained: «Do not underestimate, do not stigmatize, not think that the person is doing it because he is attracting attention. Also, understand that you have to be treated by professional psychologists or psychiatrists. It is also important to do preventive work. It can be prevented if one works with time and, in sports, work with sports psychologists either in the training or professional stage. The person can acquire tools to face situations especially those that perceive pressure ».
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