Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • For top level sports people,

  • it's not just skill and athleticism that count.

  • So often, it's mind over matter.

  • Psychology is now seen as increasingly vital to winning.

  • Having a sports psychologist is

  • just as valuable as a strength and conditioning coach.

  • In elite sport,

  • the difference between success and failure

  • is often the finest of margins.

  • Go!

  • It's all about raising the bar

  • one year to the next.

  • Keel's

  • good.

  • The annual boat race between

  • Oxford and Cambridge Universities

  • is one of the oldest and most prestigious events

  • in the sporting calendar.

  • They're moving out to

  • nearly a half a length here.

  • Very encouraging for Cambridge.

  • For the competitors,

  • it's 20 minutes of pure pain.

  • But also, pure pressure.

  • When they walk outside that boathouse

  • there will be 100,000 people standing on the bank.

  • That is something you just can't get your head around

  • until you've actually lived it.

  • How the rowers cope with that intense pressure

  • can make the difference between glory and failure.

  • The Cambridge women's team have won the last two races

  • and this woman has been one of the secrets of their success.

  • I work on managing their thinking.

  • Knowing that they are in control

  • of their psychological state.

  • Sports psychologist Helen Davis

  • has worked on specific techniques to help the team

  • at the most mentally testing moments in the race.

  • When the pain kicks in, they have trigger words

  • that they've planned for in advance

  • that they will say to themselves

  • to get across the finish line.

  • As training for the 2019 race intensifies,

  • just trying to keep up with teammates is mentally grueling.

  • Trying to make those crews is huge pressure.

  • I get off the water and I've just been

  • trying to keep up with

  • people who compete at world championships

  • and then I work on my PhD and I'm trying to keep up with

  • people that I feel are so much smarter than me.

  • So it's pressure that I put on myself.

  • So I will very much encourage them to

  • view pressure as a challenge.

  • Focus on certain things with their thinking

  • that's going to help them with their performance

  • rather than focusing on the uncertainties

  • of their situation.

  • Understanding what makes athletes cope

  • or panic at those crucial moments

  • is an ever-growing obsession in professional sport.

  • It's the multi-billion dollar question

  • that sports psychologists are constantly trying to answer.

  • Dr. Jamie Barker lectures

  • at the world's leading sports science university,

  • Loughborough in Britain.

  • What is the reaction that individuals go through

  • and how does that contribute to how they perform?

  • That's the intrigue that we have.

  • Okay and James, if you just try to relax as much as you can.

  • In 2013, Jamie helped devise

  • a cardiovascular test.

  • It compared the physiological reactions of athletes

  • who thrive in a high pressure situation

  • with those who flop.

  • A group of aspiring professional cricketers

  • were set a specific target.

  • We had a scenario where they would

  • have to score 36 runs of 30 deliveries

  • when facing the balling machine.

  • The cricketers were warned

  • that their results would be made public

  • and would decide who makes the team and who doesn't.

  • Shot.

  • So what's he on, then?

  • 10 of 10.

  • Nearly half the players

  • hit the test for six, and scored the runs.

  • And most of them went into what psychologists call

  • a challenge state.

  • In a challenge state,

  • my body releases adrenaline

  • which opens up my arteries, which means there's blood,

  • glucose, and oxygen going around my body,

  • I'm able to make better decisions.

  • I'm able to move quickly.

  • Over half the batsmen found themselves

  • on a stickier wicket, and failed to make the runs.

  • They mostly entered the so-called threat state.

  • In a threat state I experience

  • the release of cortisol, which constricts

  • the arteries around my heart,

  • there's less blood going around my body,

  • and hence my performance may suffer.

  • As a sports psychologist we can then start to go in and say,

  • how can we help you to go from a threat state

  • to a challenge state?

  • Jamie employs a mental visualization technique

  • that sports psychologists have used with a variety

  • of professional teams.

  • Athletes are asked to picture a set of scales.

  • On one side are their demands,

  • the obstacles to success.

  • They're taught to tip the balance the other way.

  • Towards their resources, the attributes they possess

  • that can help them.

  • It is about trying to develop a perception of control.

  • Can individuals really focus on the things

  • that they can influence, rather than worrying

  • about external factors.

  • Sports psychology is sometimes criticized

  • as a phony science.

  • But many major sports teams and personalities

  • now use psychologists.

  • And there's growing acceptance

  • that this boosts performances.

  • In sports, as in the world beyond,

  • a mental edge can bring a winning one.

  • Everyone on this team pushes themselves

  • to incredible limits.

  • And that's why they've come so far

  • academically and in sports.

For top level sports people,

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 US pressure state cambridge challenge professional race

What makes elite athletes thrive or dive under pressure? | The Economist

  • 8 0
    joey joey posted on 2021/05/24
Video vocabulary