MADRID – Without the pressure of fans in the stands, athletes, teams and referees will likely improve their performance as long as a competitive mindset can be achieved, sports psychology expert and former basketball coach Francisco Solana Romero told EFE on Thursday.
What will it mean for sports to play competitions with empty stadiums?
There are several aspects. On the one hand, the sports industry will be affected by the fact that there are no spectators in stadiums and courts, and on the other, the psychological impact will be very important for athletes.
The main change is that this constant process of communication between fans and players, which creates an environmental pressure that influences players, coaches and referees, will not take place.
In a football match, who will benefit the most from these conditions?
The absence of spectators will mean the elimination of that customary pressure on the referee, who will benefit the most. In the case of players, there will be no pressure, but no support either.
How can jumping onto an empty field or court with stands empty of fans affect the performance of an athlete?
It will affect athletes in a positive way, since it will improve various aspects, such as the attention and concentration of players on the game, the management of the internal communication of the team on the court and there will be more cohesion and better internal relations between team members.
Without environmental pressure, there will be opportunities to improve performance, since the player can be more focused on the essence of the sport in terms of concentration, more united to the team and the coach. Anxiety is eliminated.
What will be the first challenge athletes will face in this new scenario?
The difference will depend on the management of psychological areas, mindset, behavior and feelings. Players will not have the boost of fans, with stimuli eliminated athletes will have to resort to self-motivation. The challenge is how to retrieve a competitive mindset without spectators and reach the same level as before.
How is the mindset restored?
The role of the leader is essential, in this case, the coach, who must set a line of action, observe the current working scenario and have a clear vision.
What should the coach do as the group leader?
Communication must be part of training. It is necessary to develop relationships and means of expression within the team to observe the levels of motivation in each player. It is as important as regaining fitness and a competitive mindset. The coach generates the mindset and the player performs.
Without environmental pressure, what changes will be observed in athletes?
It will improve the athlete’s level of attention. They will no longer be distracted by anything; stress management will be more comfortable without environmental pressure. Communication within the team will increase as there is not so much press and TV and no fans waiting for teams at the stadium gate.
The player will focus more on the team and internal relationships will improve, internal conflicts will decrease, there will be no statements.
Do you think the competitive level of teams will rise?
We are going to see more compact and cohesive teams than before because the level of attention will be focused on them, while before it was influenced by an environment that took away attention and could modify the performance of a player. Now they will come out 100% concentrated, now the environment will not influence.
Referees are the first target of criticism. How will the absence of permanent judgment in the stands influence them?
Once spectator pressure is eliminated, they will be able to be more focused and attentive, they will have fewer elements that condition them. I think there will be higher level arbitrations, the performance will improve without the critical environment so close.
You were a basketball coach. What would you say to your players if you were coaching now?
I would make them see what scenario we are in, what we are here for, how we want to seek our goals together. It is about working with reality, defining goals and asking people to add value to the collective.