Việt Nam tackles psychological pressures faced by top athletes

May 30, 2024 - 10:06
In the near future, Vietnamese sports will train and have professional sports psychology experts, contributing to helping solve the problem of psychological pressure for athletes before competing at international tournaments.
Vietnamese shooters train in Hà Nội. They face a lot of psychological pressure when competing. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — In elite sports, besides tactics and physical strength, the psychological factor plays an important role in competition results so reducing mental pressure on athletes is a problem that needs to be solved to maintain stable performance.

At many regional and international sports events, many Vietnamese athletes have regretfully missed out on victory due to psychological issues.

Vietnamese shooters have very good results in domestic competitions, even reaching continental and world levels, but when competing in major events like the Asian Games or Olympics, they often struggle with psychological pressure. Shooter Phạm Quang Huy is the reigning Asian Games champion in the men's 10m air pistol event, but could not win a place at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Trần Quốc Cường, coach of the Vietnamese shooting team, explained that in shooting, psychological factor determines up to 70 per cent of the result. When faced with psychological pressure, most shooters have to cope on their own, and it is the coaches who will share and help athletes reduce pressure, increase concentration, improve confidence and manage emotions to compete at their best.

Swimmer Nguyễn Huy Hoàng admitted that he was under psychological pressure and could not win a medal in his favourite 1,500m freestyle event at the 19th Asian Games, despite winning a silver medal in the same event at the 18th Asian Games.

In football, the Vietnamese team have had 11 semi-final and three final appearances in the AFF Championship, as well as 10 semi-final and six final appearances in the SEA Games. However, they have only won the AFF Championship twice and the SEA Games twice. This shows that, in addition to professional qualifications, psychological and spiritual factors greatly affect players' performance.

According to former Vietnamese gymnast Lê Thanh Tùng, the pressure to achieve success is not only on each athlete but also on coaches. Previously, when going to international competitions, coaches and athletes only knew how to encourage each other without having access to mental coaches or psychologists.

Alain Goudsmet, a sportsmanship training expert from Belgium, explained that any athlete in any country faces a lot of pressure from achievements, opponents and audiences. In competition, psychology determines success or failure, and if athletes cannot overcome psychological pressure, they cannot achieve high results.

According to Nguyễn Hồng Minh, former vice president of the Việt Nam Olympic Committee, in developed countries, having doctors, psychologists and promoting psychological training for athletes is common, but in Việt Nam, this issue is still overlooked, partly due to limited funding.

In national teams, many coaches also take on the role of mental care for athletes, he said, adding that if Vietnamese sports reach out and achieve high and stable results in international events, the Government should pay attention, invest, and gradually build a team of doctors and physical psychology experts.

Trần Văn Mạnh, general secretary of the Việt Nam Olympic Committee, said: "In recent times, sports management agencies have been very concerned about mental and psychological stability of athletes during training and competition.

"Sports psychology has become a mandatory subject for students at universities and sports colleges in the country. Applying methods of balance and psychological stability helps athletes gain greater mental concentration to compete successfully."

Đặng Hà Việt, director of the Department of Sports and Physical Training under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, informed that the Vietnamese sports industry is aiming to build job positions, build and train coaches of sports psychology.

In early May, the department co-ordinated with the Belgian Embassy in Việt Nam to organise the programme "Mental training techniques for coaches of national sports teams" in Hà Nội and HCM City which attracted more than 100 coaches of national teams.

Hà said that in the near future, Vietnamese sports will train and have professional sports psychology experts, contributing to helping solve the problem of psychological pressure for athletes before competing at international tournaments. — VNS