Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sports psychologists make slow inroads into German soccer

Professional athletes are under enormous pressure, and for some players the burden can be too much. In soccer, more than other sports, the taboo on seeking help is a hard one to break. Could change be underway?

'Professional soccer player' might sound like a dream job: lots of money, adoring fans, and you don't have to wear a tie to work.

But in reality, the pressure on those chosen few athletes can be unbearably high. Imagine thousands of people watching your every move while you work, screaming - often cursing - at you for even small mistakes. On top of that, there is a constant threat that illness or injury could end your career in the blink of an eye.

For a long time, dealing with this stress was a job for soccer players to manage alone. But in recent years, that has begun to change.

Since 2006, the clinical sports psychologist Aneta Szpigiel has worked with a union that represents German pro soccer players, the VDV. Her office is in a sports-medicine and physical therapy clinic next to the Schalke soccer stadium in Gelsenkirchen - conveniently located so that players can come to her for help with their problems.

To read more: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5319624,00.html

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