Benoit Paire is one of the latest examples of this phenomenon of depression. The French tennis player, currently 52nd in the world, was knocked out at Indian Wells in the first round this weekend. However, the French got the chance to end the game with 4 match points… He couldn’t avoid the debacle. Defeat by a psychological problem is more than a matter of level according to the person concerned. When we talk about mental preparation, the collective unconscious fantasizes a picture of vulnerability and incompetence in the athlete. The reality is a little more complex than that. Contrary to popular belief, this is a problem that affects all athletes according to the mental trainer Yasmina Cheghannou †
Many people think that the mind does not affect all players, but that is not true! It affects everyone!
You have to keep in mind that the mind is not just about managing yourself, but you have to consider the whole context around the athlete: supporters, social networks, opponents, coaches, teammates… The best recent example to show the context is Naomie Osaka’s misadventure at Indian Wells this weekend… The Japanese tennis player was eliminated in the second round of the tournament before bursting into tears mid-match after a spectator’s head-on insult “You suck”. Insults can directly affect the athlete, the evidence.
A multi-sport phenomenon
The phenomenon affects athletes in team sports as well as in individual sports. The example of football – a sport for the general public – is the most relevant. Following PSG’s surprise elimination from the European Cup last week, PSG players have been met with a flurry of criticism that started first on social media and continued this Sunday at the Parc Des Princes. It was the first time fans had met the players after the Champions League defeat to Real Madrid and the reunion was icy to say the least, especially for Messi and Neymar, not high enough.
Neymar’s name was whistled by the announcer during his pre-match presentation. These signs of discontent continued throughout the meeting with booing from 45,000 people every time the Paris leader grabbed the ball. A pressure that will probably be very difficult for the Brazilian to cash in. In addition, Ney had already stated (last October) that he had thought of stopping football at the end of the year after the 2022 World Cup. He then said he didn’t know if he would have the mental strength to continue. We feel a player crushed by the football system. However, when we talk about football, Neymar remains one of the best players of his generation. The mental trainer, Yasmina Cheghannou, explains the correlation between mental and performance for Mouv’ to justify the irregularity of certain players and the need to use a mental coach:
We know the players have the technical skills, we’ve already seen them at work. But mentally there is something that blocks them and prevents them from performing well on the field. The mental prep will try to figure out what’s blocking them so the players can be 100%.
The Paris number 10 is far from an isolated case. A legend of French football also spoke to the media on the subject. The top scorer in the history of the French team, Thierry Henry, spoke at length with the l’Équipe newspaper. He also experienced peaks when he was still a player. We can especially remember the episode of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and the famous hand in the area that brought France to the World Cup at the expense of Ireland. He confesses that he sometimes experienced the pressure around him very badly during his career. For example, the 98 world champion explains that crying in top sport is very poorly perceived and even used against themselves by opponents or supporters. Titi Henry poses a problem that symbolizes the whole problem of mind perception in sports “The sportsman speaks, but do we hear him? “The question is being asked.