Athletes have the ability to represent, in addition to their own ideas, those of their opponents. The goal is to better anticipate the intentions and motivations of the other to provide an effective response and gain the upper hand. Théodor Reik (1888-1969), an American psychoanalyst, spoke of tact and said that he expressed “a certain adaptation of our personal rhythm to that of those around us”. He liked to add that we have to wait for the right moment to give an interpretation.

Communication from the unconscious to the unconscious is delimited in a space that goes from what is guessed to what is understood. On several occasions, in a match or a competition, sportspeople integrate the information which they recover through sensations and perceptions which more or less broadly open up the field of responses. These stimulations are transformed into affects which lead to the formation of an idea or reasoning.
When athletes share things, they quickly go out of their minds to react better. When they are overwhelmed by the stakes and the quantity of stimuli, despite good preparation, they spend too much time thinking about the result or ruminating on what went wrong. The consequences are inappropriate attitudes linked to lack of concentration. The fate of a match or a match does not necessarily depend on the exceptional talent of an individual, but rather on who will make the mistake at the wrong time.

Attention span
When a sportsman misses his competition despite the fact that he (she) is in excellent physical and technical condition, he is almost always attributed a scathing lack of confidence in his abilities. The major factor in devolution is emotional, it interferes with our ability to move from one state to another. Closer to the action, it is a question of moving from the imagined gesture to the gesture performed while taking into account the intangibles, a set of unpredictable events. A well-prepared mental preparation consists of preparing the athlete to react as best as possible to the unexpected. If in this exercise experience and repetition can be decisive, carelessness is also a service. Between the two, doubt can settle permanently if nothing is done to remedy it.
This state of hesitation favors withdrawal into oneself to the detriment of the reaction. Several times in the course of a day, we feel the need to interrupt the attention paid to the immediate surroundings. This allows you to recover emotionally or to prepare a response. The expression “being in the moon” perfectly translates this behavior. During this time, we perform actions in a state of consciousness that does not allow us to be lucid. The brain can only do one thing at a time! We act mechanically, omitting the essentials: the time spent preparing the response is too great compared to the immediacy of the action. As you read these lines, some are focused on the subject while others, and it is quite natural, make associations of ideas and are drawn by personal reflections which certainly have nothing in common with this article if not taking a distance from conscious perception.
The use of sophrology during the preparation allows to work the “concentration” without forcing it. It is very interesting, emotionally, to identify what is likely to get the person out of the action. The simple fact of becoming aware of it allows you to stay in the rhythm of the competition.
A good level of concentration depends on the mind’s disposition to be flexible in the exchanges between external information and its interpretation at a more intimate level. Performance takes shape in these relationships between the explicit and the implicit, and at the center are the emotions. Just like the dream, which for some psychoanalysts is a measure of cerebral plasticity, sophrology can help regulate exchanges (stimulations / interpretations) when an athlete believes that it can allow him to improve.
The sophro-liminal threshold (between waking and sleeping) gives the individual the opportunity to work and anticipate situations where the mind may be close to saturation. Circumstances (finals, championships, etc.) conducive to the accumulation of tension, amounts of stimulation that can cause an inhibition of the response or excessive reactions. The emotions contained or anger, which get the athlete out of his concentration, follow sometimes short but intense periods of “distress”, also called “overwhelmed stress”. Sophrology is much more than the mere manifestation of great relaxation. Discipline, with its variety of techniques, gives the possibility of using the person’s tension. The latter, by integrating his body in a progressive appeasement, switches to a state of consciousness favorable to the analysis of his own behavior.
In this context, imagination replaces the expression of feelings. The athlete forges a new representation of his problem that will help him overcome limiting reflexes. It is by taking reality as a pillar, as in a waking dream, that he is able to distinguish and differentiate what bothers him. The fact that he can then explain what he experienced during the session facilitates the acquisition of new behavior. An original and individual way of acting which in a competitive situation will allow him to be reactive. He will be able to instinctively become aware of when he is likely to drop out of the action.
The concentration and involvement of athletes, both in training and in competition, is the product of group and individual interactions. The state of mind of a team, its atmosphere, have a considerable influence on individual and collective performance.
The ability to pay attention remains closely linked to the motivation of the individual. The functioning of sports groups has changed considerably over the past twenty years. The professionalization in rugby or more recently the World tour in cycling, have led to an upheaval in the organization of the teams and notable changes in mentality. If relationships could be warm and spontaneous in the 1990s, it is not uncommon to hear that relationships have become more rational, sometimes devoid of emotion. The stakes of competition change men.
At a high level of organization, the sports group system is comparable to that of an institution. The differentiation of the roles held is very marked. Relationships are much more functional. The interior of a group is in a constant movement. Each individual belonging to him can move the lines. Actions, speeches, attitudes almost systematically provoke a reaction. This dimension is to be taken into account unless we prefer alternation, that is, changing a large part of the team to try to find a certain harmony in the group!


Laurent Favarel