Volume 11, Issue 3
Mental Training in Motor Sports: Psychological Consulting for Racecar Drivers in Japan
Applied Sport Psychology & Mental Training Lab
Okai University Kanagawa, Japan
The Japanese sports world has a longstanding tradition of using a mentoring style of coaching where the coaches train their athletes in the same manner in which they were trained. This coaching style is a reflection of traditional Japanese cultural disciplines such as martial arts, religious practices, music, fine arts and crafts as well as tea and flower ceremonies where the master would teach the apprentice the skills and techniques that were imparted to them from previous masters who lived ages ago. In sports, this coaching legacy cycle repeats over and over again through the years as the athlete becomes the coach and the time-honored training practices are passed down to a new generation of athletes. These training practices are so culturally ingrained into the sport that the use of any other method is often considered to be a show of disrespect towards the tradition of the sport. This attitude towards implementing new ideas and methods hold true for both traditional Japanese sports as well as for sports introduced from the West. With such strong traditional and cultural beliefs firmly in place, it is often difficult to introduce innovative sports science methods to Japanese coaches and athletes.
In addition to the cultural barriers mentioned above, there are also personal obstacles. With easy access to rapid global information, Japanese athletes and coaches now have the ability to study and gather information of successful training practices from around the world. Even with this information, those involved in the Japanese sports world are still divided on whether or not new scientific methods or ideas should be implemented or even be tried. There are times when some athletes are willing to utilize new methods that may lead them to performance enhancement, but their coaches may be wary of introducing an unfamiliar new training method because it goes against tradition. By the same token, it is also possible for the coaches to be willing to seek new practical solutions for improving athletic performances, while the athletes themselves are unwilling to cooperate in a new training method that defies the tradition of the sport. Facilitating new training methods based on science becomes a daunting task because both the coaches and the athletes have preconceived notions of the types of training that are necessary or important. Unfortunately, these set ideas often hinder their ability to look beyond tradition and culture. Once in a while, however, there comes a time when both the coaches and the athletes are willing to seek new training methods that is considered to be completely outside of the realm of that particular sport. This transformative moment happened in Japan for the sport of motor racing.
In 2005, the major Japanese automobile manufacturing companies of Honda, Nissan and Toyota banded together to establish a project called Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ). The purpose of this project is to cultivate talented young racecar drivers to eventually compete at the world level through a progression of different racing categories starting with a newly initiated junior formula race circuit category. Promising young drivers from ages 16-26 who are Japanese kart-racing champions are tested and selected to participate in this innovative program. Once in the program, the young drivers are mentored and coached by racing advisers. The role of the racing adviser is to help support and train the young drivers to become world-class racers. Even though the goal is to have the racecar drivers compete at an international level, the motor sport field in Japan also fosters the same pattern of the traditional Japanese training approach in order to train their young drivers. Namely, the racing advisers use the techniques and psychological factors from their own experiences as racecar drivers to train and teach the new crop of drivers.
Shortly after the start of this young driver's program, I was contacted by one of the FCJ racing advisers. Upon reading a book that I wrote called "Mental Training Program for Athletes" (Kozuma, 2002), which introduces a step-by-step mental training program for performance enhancement to athletes, the racing adviser called to let me know that he was opened to the idea of using mental training as a component of the young driver's training program. The adviser was a past champion of the 24 hour Le Mans race in France and felt that mental training could be an effective tool in Formula 1 (F1) racing. I was asked to be the sport psychology consultant for his team of young drivers.
Transitioning into the AFL: Indigenous Football Players' Perspectives
Emma E. Campbell
Dubai Women's College
Christopher C. Sonn
Sport plays an important part in Indigenous culture, politics is an important part, sports important, and it brings the community together. On some communities it is a matter of life and death. It's what our programs bring, being part, participating in football, community being involved, raising awareness on alcohol and drugs, health issues, very important part in how we can make an impact on Australia. Football is such a powerful tool, it's one thing Indigenous people love, that's football, not saying it's going to change our world, but geez we've got something there that can attract the kids, families and can change an ecosystem, make an impact on all different levels. We've got players, Indigenous players that are powerful tools; they are seen as heroes, role models. They can have an impact through a leather ball. (Michael Long, AFL Ambassador, cited in Roberts, 2005).
Culture in Sport Psychology: Whose Culture is it Any way?
Tatiana V. Ryba
Just as you cannot fully understand human action without taking account of its biological evolutionary roots and, at the same time, understand how it is construed in the meaning making of the actors involved in it, so you cannot understand it fully without knowing how and where it is situated. For, to paraphrase Clifford Geertz, knowledge and action are always local, always situated in a network of particulars.
Jerome Bruner, 1996, p. 167
In spring 2008, I was shortlisted for a Senior Lecturer post in the European Master's in Sport and Exercise Psychology Programmed at the University of Jyväskylä. The subsequent stage in the competition was to deliver a 20-minute lecture entitled "Current Issues in Sport and Exercise Psychology." As I was perusing the latest issues of international journals in the field in an attempt to get a better grasp of "hot" topics, my list of "current issues" was growing. There were plenty of topics I could raise in my lecture. Yet, I was feeling uneasy-contemporary issues seemed but the recurrent old ones. Take for example, present anxieties about growing rates of child obesity and urgency of instigating physically active lifestyle in the developed countries; or models of sport psychology practice and delivery; or using sport as a tool for peace and international collaborations. These issues continuously make national and international news, peer-reviewed journals, and scientific conferences. Yet they are certainly not new. In the late 19th century, Russian biologist, anatomist and educator Piotr Lesgaft (1901) stressed the importance of physical activity for healthy physical and psychological development of children. The scientifically inspired model of physical education developed by Lesgaft was later incorporated into the school system by the soviet state. At the turn of the 20th century, we see medical doctors and physical educators across Europe and North America pointing to physiological, psychological and social benefits of regular engagement in physical activity (Welch & Lerch, 1981). Recent empirical research provides convincing support to previous theoretical and descriptive essays produced by scholars around the world. Similarly, debates about the best provision of psychological services for athletes and coaches have been ongoing since the late 1960s, if not earlier.
In addition, sport as an important sociocultural practice has been historically utilized for social integration, nation building, and peace diplomacy. I began to realize that it is not the issue per se that makes news but the meaning it is given at a particular historical conjuncture. The meaning, of course, is based on what our best explanatory theories can provide.
Sport Psychology Consultations for Professional Soccer Players Working with Diverse Teams
The Zinman College of Physical Education and Sport Sciences
Wingate Institute and Faculty of Education
University of Haifa, Israel
Ribstein Center for Sport Medicine Sciences and Research
Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sport Israel
Since the 1950s soccer has established itself as one of the most popular team sports in Israel (Ben-Porat, 1998, 2001). Professional and amateur soccer is played around the country, in both large and small cities. Although soccer is played by females as well, the sport has been exclusively dominated by males. There is only one amateur league for adult females (composed of 8 teams). However, there are two professional and three semi-professional divisions for male players, and there are many amateur leagues for male players comprising teams from all over the country. All the games played in the two male professional divisions are regularly televised, while games played in the female league can seldom be seen on television.
This article focuses on the provision of sport psychology consultations to three professional soccer clubs by one sport psychology consultant (SPC). Over the past 10 years, the SPC worked with three different professional soccer clubs in Israel, each during a separate season. This article presents the experiences of the SPC based on his work with these three clubs. Typically, the team of experts that works for a professional soccer club in Israel is composed of a head coach, assistant coach/s (one or two), strength and conditioning coach, an athletic trainer, a physiotherapist, and a physician specializing in sports medicine. Few clubs hire a SPC in order to regularly provide their players and coaches with the required psychological preparation for practices and games. The reason for this is that most of the owners of the clubs believe that soccer is a physical game and not a mental game. They insist that a good coach should, with the help of his or her regular assistants, be able to prepare the players to overcome any psychological barriers they may face during the season. Furthermore, they believe that if a coach demands to work with a SPC on a regular basis, he or she may lack strong leadership, and in turn, this may have a negative influence on the relationships with his or her players. This belief is not a cultural perspective but rather a sport-specific perspective, since in other ball games such as basketball; team-handball, and volleyball, club owners are more open to hiring SPCs to help the coaches' better deal with the psychological preparation of their players.
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