Letter to the experts: fear of falling
Interview with a Sports Psychologist
The role of the Sports Psychologist in facing our fears.
In this letter to the experts we will define the figure of the Sports Psychologist, and how can help us in facing a very common obstacle for skaters: the fear of falling.
Pen exchange with Silvia Ferri, 08/11/2022
Hi Silvia! You are a sports psychologist … is the term correct? Can you tell us what you do and what was your training path, also in relation to the world of ice skating?
Hi Pietro, what a pleasure to hear you! Yes correct, I’m a Sports Psychologist. I take care of mental preparation, so I work with athletes, coaches, parents, teams and all the people who help the athlete in their sporting path. The Sports Psychologist is a professional with a 5-year degree in Psychology, with a subsequent one-year qualifying internship and state exam, and who has completed a Masters in Sports Psychology. This is the training path of the sports psychologist. I myself come from the world of skating as a former competitive ice skating athlete and later 1st level Italian FISG (ISU) coach. I trained jung and “less young” athletes for 7 years in various sports clubs in Padua and in Milan during my university education. I then began to collaborate with the Mind Room studio in Lombardy which deals with Sport Psychology, making the decision to leave the path of coach to position myself on the “side of the rink” as a Mental Trainer. I deal with motivation, goals, improving sports performance, emotional management, post injury recovery, communication and much more.
Often we have the idea that the sports psychologist is “just for few”, perhaps for top-level athletes or professionals. Would a psychological contribution also be useful in amateur sport?
Yes, very often it is thought that the Sports Psychologist is only for the high level or for problematic situations, but this is not the case. It should be noted that by starting to do mental preparation work even on younger athletes, we are working on the prevention of what could then be future problems. As for amateur sport, there are certainly many techniques that can be useful to all sportsmen, for example the recognition and management of their emotions (such as anger, fear, sadness, etc.): they are useful both in sports life and in everyday life. Very often there are techniques used in sports that are transversal to everyday life, so they help the person to overcome situations even in different areas. When they ask me if the Sports Psychologist is only for the high level, I answer: “why? don’t all the other sportsmen feel anxious? “
From a survey on our Telegram group it emerged that for skaters a great psychological limitation lies in the fear of falling. Can you help us better understand what fear is and why it affects us so much? How important is the environment in all of this?
“Fear of falling” “fear of making a mistake”, many times I have heard this phrase, as an athlete, as a coach … and also as a psychologist! In the meantime, it is right to make a distinction between fear and anxiety: fear is activated when there is a real danger / threat, while anxiety can also be linked to something perceived, a threat that is often vague and ill-defined. So first of all you have to ask yourself if it is fear or anxiety: awareness is the first step of the path! The environment and the context can certainly affect sports performance because, as I mentioned earlier, it is a fear. It is always right to arrive at a certain awareness and then understand how binding the situation can be and, if necessary, turn to professionals to overcome it.
What exercises / tricks can we do to feel safer?
Security is acquired through self-esteem and self-efficacy: the more I have a good opinion of myself, the more confident I will be. The topic is very broad and there are certainly different techniques that you can use according to the person and the need, but a good tip can be to write down your strengths as an athlete on a sheet! This aspect should not be underestimated: we often think about what needs to be improved, since sports such as ice skating require training and the search for the perfection of the technical gesture. This aspect, however, moves the attention away from our strengths.
Thanks Silvia for your valuable contribution. How can we contact you or request a consultation?
Sure, gladly! I work mainly in Verona, Padua and Milan but with the online mode it is also possible to work remotely. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at +39 3495947489. Thanks for the great opportunity and we hope to see you live soon!