Introduction to the Project: Neuroscience for Peak Performance

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Ivan MartinezHello everyone,

I´m Iván Martínez, professional basketball player with a number of years of experience in different teams.

Today I write these lines to present the work that Ruth and I are doing together in order to shed light on something that isn´t common in my sport and which is actually uncommon in all our most well-known sports.

Since we were small, in the initiation in whatever sport, in my case basketball, they train us to improve our technique, tactics, fitness and our judgment, to give some examples. Over time, this becomes intensified and if you are lucky enough to be talented and have the possibilities of a great future, the demands and dedication become multiplied.

However, in all this time there have been very few people who have been interested or who have concerned themselves with the internal processes that the player suffers. What goes through his or her mind? What emotional state does the player have? Before everything else, the player is a person and like everyone else is affected by the situations that he or she experiences and this greatly determines his or her performance.

Years ago, I couldn´t even imagine this, I wasn´t conscious of it and if someone had talked to me about it, I would probably have labelled them as enlightened. However, over these years my understanding has changed.

My main example of all of this is myself. As a result of the various injuries that I had suffered in my career, I found myself emotionally in a very complicated moment. So much so that at one point I began to think seriously about retiring from my sport, because I couldn´t see any other way out. After finishing the previous season, Ruth and I began to talk. I was in a period of recuperation from my last injury that occurred at the end of the season. I proposed to myself to include some emotional and psychological work with her as part of my rehabilitation.

Over the years and thanks in part to my studies in the Faculty of Sports Science, I have become conscious of the importance of the internal processes of the player and how they are affected by them. I have come to realise how much they determine the player’s performance. With all this in mind, I decided to put myself in her hands and include it in my work plan.

Ruth had been collaborating with us throughout that season and even though we didn´t have a working relationship, she is has a great capacity for observation and right from the start of our work she already knew a lot about my way of being.

Our work was centred on:

  • Eliminating the residues that the injuries had left in my head.
  • Recovering the confidence in my body that I had lost.
  • Strengthening my rehabilitation process.

mental and emotional impact of sports injuries 1I experienced one of the clearest examples of the blocks that my injuries had produced in the training session for the first match of the Playoffs. In a specific moment, as I ran towards the ball, I stopped and my body wouldn´t respond to what I was asking it to do, my head became full of the thought that if I made another step I would injure myself again. It was a thought that I had been fighting against every day throughout the season until I arrived at that point.

After working with Ruth over 2 months throughout the summer and after applying the work from the sessions to my training in the gym as well as on court, including it as part of my rehabilitation, I achieved being able to leave the previous season behind by being signed by one of the best teams in Europe. I have been training on a day to day basis at such a demanding level that I had never previously experienced and yet at the same time I have had a level of confidence that I had never felt before.

All of this has led me to think that if we demand such a level physical work with the support of doctors and physiotherapists, if the players train during so many hours in all these areas, why don´t we also train or work at a cognitive, emotional and internal process level?

With this Project in which we are embarking, my objective is to introduce my work with Ruth in my preparation for the next season. I will accompany my work in the gym, court and massage table with her sessions. We will put our attention in applying her techniques to improve certain aspects of my game, aspects which I have seen some of my teammates improve in the past, as well as including the work to improve my emotions and internal processes.