Reply To: Cycle crashes

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Adam Szuster

Personally I think that elite level riders are used to crashing; they understand that it is a part of cycling; and so to get to the elite level they know they have to ‘get back on the bike’. The same applies to most if not all forms of propulsive sports from horse riding to motorracing. Those that succeed convince themselves that getting back on the bike is the only option.

In terms of those who struggle to preform back at their best after a crash I suspect it is becuase of a conditioning thought cycles that get processed by their brain. The most common process would be a justification that the sport is not the most important thing in their life. This prevents them from pushing themselves as hard as they had previously, hence the drop in performance relative to before the crash.

The job of the sports psychologist in this instance is to help the athlete determine why they won’t push themselves as hard and then guide them through a decision making process to determine that not only do they need to push as hard, but harder than ever before.

There is a saying in motorsport “you are not a real driver until you have had a big one”. Those that get back in and continue to push them selves do well (ie: Nikki Lauda, Alex Zinardi) while those who don’t fade away.

Another aspect of this is that athletes tend not to think of the consequences of what could go wrong. they are focused on what can go right. Thinking about what can go wrong is a negative image that will blunt performance.