Sylvain Baert: “Managing your mental fluctuations as well as possible”

Author of the book “The Art of Mastering Your Mind”Sylvain Baert, doctor in psychology and mental trainer, discusses the need for an athlete to know how to control his instability via tools.

Among all the tools you mention in your book (breathing techniques, cardiac coherence, relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, mental imagery, sophrology), which is the most effective or the most popular among athletes?

Sylvain Baert: It all depends on the theme you want to work on. A tool is used according to the desired objective. Mindfulness meditation still comes up often. Since the 2010s, there has been a flowering of scientific articles making it possible to democratize this method. Another effective and popular tool: cardiac coherence. This technique is very simple to set up, accessible. There is also relaxation, especially for stress management.

Are these tools as effective for men as for women?

SB: On the ground, I don’t see any difference, nor any technique that would emerge from another. It’s more on a case-by-case basis depending on the person’s personality, where they are sportingly. Whatever the genre, we will rather use tests when possible to give a trend and perhaps identify a tool that would be more appropriate.

In your opinion, if an athlete wants to become a great champion in his sport, like Martin Fourcade, does he have to have a mental trainer by his side?

SB: We do not sufficiently take into account that the mind fluctuates a lot. It is not because at some point we have reached very high that we cannot come back down. The stronger the athlete is mentally, the less his mind fluctuates. He will succeed in coping with situations. The mental trainer allows him to provide him with tools to best manage his fluctuations, especially when it is down. It is a temporal accompanying factor.

I accompanied during a few sessions an athlete at the time who was 40th in the world in the ATP ranking. They called me because he had trouble concentrating. I give him a psychological test and his mark was 10/20. Each time, we think that the very high level does not need a mental trainer because they have validated a certain course. That’s partly true, they can have mental toughness. But the idea is to train it, to optimize it to better manage it. Let’s imagine that an athlete has 80-90% on the mental evaluations. The remaining percentages could make the difference at the very top level.

“The stronger the athlete is mentally, the less his mind fluctuates”

You help many athletes. Can you give us an example of a specific case?

SB: He was a player, playing in Ligue 2, who was going badly. He was no longer playing, he was on the bench. I saw him for a few sessions. At the same time, he changed clubs. I didn’t see him again afterwards. A few years later, I had new players. They were sent to me because the first one felt helped. He wouldn’t have done it alone. It was the medical staff who sent him.

I can’t do anything magical, but sometimes all it takes is a few benchmarks, a few techniques to reboost them. They are not aware of all this, because they have never had access to it. If you are not well accompanied, not well guided, this is where mental preparation can really help.

You don’t mention their names…

SB: It’s confidential. It’s important to be able to cite them and, at the same time, there are certain trainers who go to extremes because they put themselves on the list of players they have accompanied, as if they had obtained victory. through mental preparation.

I think there is a question of discipline too. In football, it remains very closed. I think that’s an admission of weakness. Not everyone knows about mental preparation. It can still be perceived as: “I’m bad, I’m seeing a shrink”. No one would dare to say that he is doing so. It would be frowned upon. The purpose of my book is also to educate athletes on this.

We wish to thank the author of this article for this remarkable material

Sylvain Baert: “Managing your mental fluctuations as well as possible”

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