adidas Combats the Effects of Negative Pressure in Athletes

Working with elite and amateur athletes, adidas explains its goal of reducing negative pressure in all branches of sport and reveals the impact of this pressure on performance. Uncovering how pressure is significantly impacting younger generations of athletes’ relationship with sport, influencing their enjoyment and overall participation, adidas is using neuroscience to examine how the world’s best cope. With this unique athlete insight, led by its new slogan “You Got This”, the brand aims to help everyday athletes relieve pressure and realize their possibilities in sports.

Elite Athletes Can Handle 40% Pressure Compared to Amateurs

Through advanced research, adidas discovered how much pressure is felt in all sports and examined how athletes experience pressure. As a result of this study, it was determined that amateur level athletes and their elite counterparts experienced similarly intense pressure in high-risk moments, but elite athletes were 40% more effective in managing the pressure in these moments.

To help close this gap, adidas has teamed up with leading neuroscientists neuro11 to explain how negative pressure hinders play and also provide guidance on how athletes at all levels can reduce this feeling.

Bringing together a number of elite athletes from sports such as football, basketball and golf, as well as amateur players from the same sports, adidas and neuro11 examined and analyzed brain movements in moments of high pressure. FIFA World Cup 2022 champion Emiliano Martínez, Ryder Cup 2023 champion Ludvig Åberg, eight-time WNBA All-Star Nneka Ogwumike, golf breakthrough phenom Rose Zhang and WSL star forward Stina Blackstenius study to help athletes around the world learn how to cope with pressure. took place.

One of the co-founders of Neuro11, Dr. Niklas Häusler says: “Although pressure looks and feels different for everyone, there is a scientific point we can reach – the optimal zone, commonly referred to as ‘getting into the zone’. This occurs when the brain is physically relaxed but mentally focused, which means optimal movement and leads to performance. When we work with athletes, we examine their brain frequencies to determine how often and how deeply they enter this optimal zone during moments of pressure, and what causes them to fall into ‘too low’ or ‘too high’ zones for performance, although amateur athletes do not tolerate pressure “We intend to teach routines that they can apply to manage sports. In this direction, we have prepared neuroscience-backed athlete guidance that will also support adidas’ goal of helping amateur athletes realize their potential.”

In the penalty shootout tests, Emiliano Martínez performed superbly under pressure; In the penalty kick test, 90% more were found in the optimal zone in high pressure moments. Martínez demonstrated a world-class mental ability to transform his attention from any surrounding distractions to a complete focus on the player taking the penalty kick, and as a result, he was three times more effective than the amateur goalkeeper in terms of the effectiveness of using pressure to get into the optimal zone.

In free throw testing, Nneka Ogwumike proved the importance of a specific and consistent pre-shooting routine. When performing this routine, he was able to be in the optimal zone 52% more often – 40% more than the amateur basketball player. This routine allowed him to tune out external distractions and thoughts and work effectively with the pressure during shooting.

Results of golf swing tests showed that shots from nine yards or less put significantly more pressure on the golf course. In these moments, Ludvig Åberg and the amateur golfer’s ability to enter the optimal zone was less than when hitting shots further from the hole, with the amateur golfer moving 42% more into the ‘very high’ brain region. However, for long distance shots Ludvig was able to get 71% more into the optimal zone, while the amateur golfer was less focused and went 91% more into the ‘too high’ brain area.

In golf swing tests with Rose Zhang, she demonstrated a high-level ability to cancel out the pressure of external distractions, a tactic she practiced extensively as a young golfer. Rose was able to stay in the optimal zone for short-range shots 50% longer, twice as much as an amateur golfer when faced with a similar shot.

In penalty kick tests against the favored sides, Stina Blackstenius was twice as effective at using pressure to get into the optimal zone as the base-level player. Before a penalty, Stina was 23% more likely to be in the optimal area, demonstrating his ability to not overthink the situation and focus on the kick.

Ludvig Åberg, speaking about the pressure in his game, said: “Personally, I see batting as the area of ​​the game under pressure. A good shot can determine the outcome of a match with a bad shot. Under this kind of pressure, I often speed up in response. My session with adidas and neuro11 highlighted how critical it is to first pause and readjust before striking. “The findings showed that I can over-analyze in these moments, so it is important that I take my time, focus and strike.” He shared it as:

Speaking about the pressure in his game, Emiliano Martínez said: “Penalty shoot-outs are one of the highest pressure moments of the game, but for me, I see it as an opportunity to turn this energy to my advantage. When I stand at the goal line, I try to keep a clear mindset and focus. I let my instincts play a role, I look carefully at what the pitcher is doing – his run, his body shape – and use that to decide my next move. “The session with adidas and neuro11 was interesting to see the data proving that I am more in the optimal zone and perform better when the pressure is increased – it reinforced my self-assessment.” said.

Talking about the pressure in her game, Nneka Ogwumike shared: “There’s a lot to think about when you’re on the field, most of the time you can anticipate high pressure moments, but sometimes they can surprise you. For me, what I often have trouble with is not finding a second to get back to my center, especially right before making a free throw. There was a game recently where, even though I knew I had time and opportunity to focus, I didn’t apply time and I was disappointed. “After working with adidas and neuro11, it was motivating to see me perform well under pressure, but it is important that I continue to improve and practice my set routines so that this does not have negative effects.”

Speaking about the pressure on her game, Rose Zhang shared: “I know that golf is a game that really requires mental strength as much as it is about technical ability. When I talk about my own game, I know I try to be a perfectionist, but under pressure that can be a hindrance. After working with adidas and neuro11 this became clear – I try to perfect every detail before the kick, which means I get bogged down in unnecessary details. Instead, I have to collect my thoughts in the moment, as a result my swing is not rushed or too slow.”

Speaking about the pressure in her game, Stina Blackstenius shared: “Taking a penalty shot definitely feels extremely pressured for me. This pressure comes from my past experience of missing a crucial penalty in the European Championship when I was 17, I find it very difficult to detach myself from this feeling and focus fully. However, after my session with adidas and neuro11, I managed to determine my set routine that can prevent overthinking.”

adidas offers a wide range of products aimed at reducing stress in athletes; This includes sports science-based insights, expert opinions and neuroscience-backed guidance materials designed to help athletes at all levels. Through serial guides to a variety of sports and an insightful four-part athlete series, he will share how to reach the optimal zone through an array of insightful techniques. This guidance reveals the optimal area to hit a penalty shot, how to use time to regain focus before taking a free throw, and the impact of time elapsed during the putt in golf – science-backed insight helping to increase mental focus during the sport’s most pressured moments.

Florian Alt, Vice President of Global Brand Communications at adidas, said: “Understanding how much negative pressure affects performance underscores the importance of our mission to help athletes around the world overcome it, thereby truly unlocking the joy that sports brings. To lead into a fantastic year of sport, we aim to encourage the next generation of athletes by providing unique insights into how some of the world’s best athletes manage pressure. Using the latest neuroscience data and research, we also provide tools and techniques to help everyone reduce stress in sports. “We hope this campaign gets athletes back to what they love about the game and we say ‘You Got This’ in a positive way.”

During its new global brand campaign, adidas will bring together a variety of sports icons to show how they cope with pressure and encourage everyday athletes to do the same. Bringing to life through a series of star-studded content and events along with the biggest spectacles in sports, the adidas message is dedicated to empowering the next generation to overcome the pressure to realize their full potential in sport.

The insightful four-series athlete series was released on adidas’ Instagram and YouTube channels on February 8, 2024. How-to guides for each sport can be downloaded here and adidas is also previewing it on TikTok. To learn more about the campaign, visit adidas.com.tr.

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