Angles and Demons

By Andréa Maria Cecil

In Athletes, CrossFit Games

September 26, 2012

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Managing stress, anxiety and fear is part of being an elite athlete. Andréa Maria Cecil talks to CrossFit Games competitors and coaches who share their approaches to fighting inner battles.

You have two choices: continue to wallow or do it again.

“In most situations, you need to challenge fears and redirect to what you can control,” said David Yukelson, director of sports psychology services for the Morgan Academic Support Center for Student Athletes at Penn State University.

Don’t allow frustration to undermine confidence, he continued—it can become obsessive and nagging self-doubt. Yukelson calls it “stinkin’ thinkin’.”

“Right then, you need to use mental-preparation techniques,” he said. “That’s when you have to fight back and be resilient.”

In other words, have a plan for composure.

“And a lot of coaches don’t think enough about that,” Yukelson added. “This is a skill.”

CrossFit Games coaches Doug Katona and Doug Chapman have certainly thought about the mental game, as have Games athletes Heather Gillespie, Deborah Cordner Carson and Lindsey Valenzuela.

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3 Comments on “Angles and Demons”


wrote …

It's interesting that this article only talks to female athletes. What about male athletes and how they approach anxiety and fear? Is the author suggesting that this is a issue specific to females?


wrote …

Enjoyed this article about an under reported and most important side of competition, the mental side. This is an excellent subject.

I believe two things help in addressing fear, jitters, and anxiety. First, the athlete has to accept that the way they are feeling is normal. They are not weak minded or inadequate, they are human! Once they understand and ACCEPT that the feelings they are having are normal, it takes away the power of the fears. Everybody fears something, and everybody gets jitters (if they care) before competition.

Secondly, to do the above we have to mentally visualize the environment we fear beforehand, and picture ourselves performing well in the moments and movements in which we fear. In addition we have to take (sometimes small) steps in deconditioning ourselves by attempting and simply "being around" that of which we fear. It comes done to acceptance, visualization, and preparation or "practice". The outcome in my experience is adaption, success, and added self-confidence.


wrote …

I have a question for the author. Why is Dave Yukelson the only sport psychologist referred to in every article about sport psychology ? Is he THE Crossfit sport psychologist ? Was he interviewed about this or simply quoted from his own work ?

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