Handling Combat fatigue and loneliness - EntornoInteligente

Entornointeligente.com / Ever won­dered how ath­letes deal with that part of their day or en­tire sea­son when they feel all alone, caught by them­selves try­ing to fig­ure out where they’ve gone wrong, whether it’s all their fault or what will to­mor­row bring?

Why does a top coach or man­ag­er feel alone? How can you feel iso­lat­ed, with no-one to turn to, in an ac­tiv­i­ty-filled dress­ing room? Why can a jet-set­ting sport­ing lifestyle leave you feel­ing like a stranger in your own home?

The per­cep­tion is that once you’re in the spot­light, re­ceiv­ing a de­cent wage pack­age, liv­ing in a nice home and mov­ing around in a nice ride, that the per­son is priv­i­leged and liv­ing their dream life.

A BBC re­port stat­ed re­cent­ly: “Elite sport can ap­pear a priv­i­leged pro­fes­sion, a chance to live out the child­hood dreams of mil­lions – and get paid for it. But there is a dark­er side. For some, the in­sta­bil­i­ty of life in the pub­lic spot­light can be as fraught as it is thrilling.

“Peo­ple at the top of or­gan­i­sa­tions can find them­selves in iso­la­tion and that is a lone­ly and vul­ner­a­ble place, es­pe­cial­ly as there is a lot of crit­i­cism that po­ten­tial­ly goes with it,” says world-renowned sports psy­chol­o­gist Dr Steve Pe­ters.

“Along­side this can be a feel­ing of be­ing as­sessed pub­licly, which can fur­ther add to a sense of iso­la­tion. It has par­al­lels with oth­er pro­fes­sions such as the po­lice, doc­tors or teach­ers. Not hav­ing an ac­knowl­edge­ment of what you are go­ing through can be very stress­ful and iso­lat­ing.”

The same feel­ings can af­flict a sportsper­son liv­ing a life where every pub­lic move is foren­si­cal­ly scru­ti­nised. Like any­one in any field, suc­cess is rarely a con­stant in the sport. Fail­ure, or the fear of it, is nev­er far away.

For years, de­pres­sion was some­thing no ath­lete could talk about open­ly. Yes, there are team sports. There is ca­ma­raderie, bond­ing, trav­el­ling to­geth­er, and a lot of fun. But, ul­ti­mate­ly, when it comes down to per­for­mance, the elite ath­lete is sud­den­ly all alone. A play­er’s per­for­mance is be­ing mon­i­tored by every­one around in­clud­ing the me­dia. Peo­ple in reg­u­lar jobs of­ten wor­ry about their per­for­mance dur­ing their ap­praisal cy­cles but not oth­er­wise. Top ath­letes have no such lux­u­ry.

Train­ing for hours, mak­ing sac­ri­fices for years and putting up with abuse and mis­treat­ment along the way guar­an­tees noth­ing. Pro­fes­sion­al sport guar­an­tees noth­ing. It takes a lot just to stay alive in the race. Just to re­main com­pet­i­tive, a play­er has to en­gage in an ex­tra­or­di­nary, en­er­gy-sap­ping fit­ness and prac­tice rou­tine. Con­sid­er the cu­ri­ous case of No­vak Djokovic. The Serb willed him­self to the No 1 spot in the huge­ly com­pet­i­tive men’s game and went about crush­ing every ma­jor record. Sud­den­ly, when every­body was an­tic­i­pat­ing how far he could go, Djokovic’s world came crash­ing down.

Dr Ru­di Web­ster, in his book “Think like a Cham­pi­on” wrote, “Many sports­men suf­fer from a form of “com­bat fa­tigue” or men­tal fragili­ty at some stage of their ca­reer”

Web­ster went on to state: “Un­like Tiger Woods the golfer, Lara was not pre­pared or trained to deal with the trap­pings and the in­tense and chron­ic pres­sures of su­per­star­dom, nor did he have the sup­port net­work around him to pro­tect him from the con­stant pres­sures that he faced. The con­tin­u­ous bat­tles and chron­ic stress­es that he en­coun­tered even­tu­al­ly took their toll and at one stage he showed signs and symp­toms of “com­bat fa­tigue”. He then gave up the cap­tain­cy and with­drew from the team for a while to get some rest and recre­ation and to recharge his phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal bat­ter­ies.

“When he re­turned to the game, lat­er on, his mind was rest­ed, fresh and alert and he played some of the most mag­nif­i­cent in­nings imag­in­able,” Web­ster stat­ed. Lara did al­so speak about per­sons whom he could re­ly on for sup­port dur­ing those dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods in his ca­reer.

Per­haps the most dan­ger­ous time for an elite sportsper­son is when the mo­ment comes to call it a day. The void of re­tire­ment can be acute. For this group, ac­tiv­i­ties like the Vet­er­an Foot­ballers Foun­da­tion An­nu­al Car­ni­val lime hap­pen­ing to­day in Barataria is a good way to reignite things. Great friends and col­leagues from times gone by get­ting the chance to rem­i­nis­cence in one place, to feel good again and to be val­ued for their con­tri­bu­tions from how­ev­er long ago. Ac­tiv­i­ties like these, as of­ten as pos­si­ble are a good rem­e­dy for those who need to feel that buzz once more.

I think it’s ad­vis­able to have the right peo­ple around you even if it means al­ways hav­ing at least one per­son you can talk to. It could be a life com­pan­ion such as a girl­friend or wife, an old friend, the best bud­dy or some­one whom you con­sid­er a great deal and trust. It’s im­por­tant for young peo­ple, young ath­letes to start de­vel­op­ing those habits that will ben­e­fit you at some point in your lives when you may need it the most.

Ed­i­tor’s Note:

Shaun Fuentes is the head of TTFA Me­dia. He is a for­mer FI­FA Me­dia Of­fi­cer at the 2010 FI­FA World Cup in South Africa. He is al­so cur­rent­ly a CON­CA­CAF Com­pe­ti­tions Me­dia Of­fi­cer and has trav­elled ex­ten­sive­ly, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and learn­ing from dif­fer­ent cul­tures and lifestyles be­cause of sport and me­dia over the past 20 years. He is al­so a cer­ti­fied me­dia train­er for ath­letes.

LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian

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