Sophrology as a gateway to the mental training of athletes

According to Wikipedia, “mental preparation is a training that consists in developing mental and cognitive skills in order to optimize the personal or collective performance of the athlete(s) while promoting the pleasure of practice and autonomy”.

It is a team work between the athlete(s), the coach, the sophrologist.

Mental preparation is a pedagogical approach to accompany the athlete (her or him) so that he gives the best of himself, that he makes the best use of his resources in the context of training and competitions.

The learning of sophrology and its regular practice has already proven itself over the last fifty years with athletes up to the highest level.

Possible benefits:
– Objectify the setting of sports goals
– Clarify motivational factors
– Build motivation and self-confidence
– Limit negative thoughts – Reinforce positive internal discourse
– Take things for what they are.
– Promote the integration of the body diagram and body ease
– Facilitate sports technical learning
– Regulate stress and especially in a context of competition
– Manage emotions, mainly fear and anger
– Manage efforts
– Promote recovery, relaxation and dynamization
– Deepen and optimize concentration
– Allow to know each other better
– Refine the ability to perceive and facilitate memorization
– Strengthen team cohesion

The accompaniment can be done remotely without problem even if it is important to meet face-to-face at the beginning in the case of a long accompaniment (sports season for example).

I did my training at the EFDS (French School of Sophrotherapy) which teaches psycho-behavioral sophrology. It is based on four pillars: body schema, objective reality, positive action and adaptability. She distinguishes herself from the Caycedian current by integrating and enriching her practice with other methods and tools useful for the resolution of problems related to sophrology. Each individual accompaniment is subject to a personalized protocol since each person is different. It is a person-centred approach. Psycho-behavioral sophrology aims to strengthen the structures of the personality, to energize the qualities and resources of the individual.

Sports sophro-pedagogy allows the athlete to reveal himself and significantly improve his performance. Mental preparation uses specific tools depending on the periods of training or competition. It finds its place before, during and after the sporting event and aims for the athlete to achieve his autonomy thanks to the acquisition of tools adapted to his needs.

The athlete will be able to act on what he feels, what he thinks and what he does, the three levels of organization (physiological, cognitive and behavioral), components of sports performance.

For high-level athletes, the accompaniment lasts over the length and is spread over one or more seasons.

During team seminars, our eco-lodge can accommodate on site a team of 10 people in total according to the constraints of the project. If the number of people involved is greater, we have other reception capacities at hand.

Why did I specialize in sports sophrology and athlete mental preparation?

This choice seemed obvious to me. It is by doing sports, that is to say by using my body to play, in effort, method and commitment that came to me, at the end of adolescence, a need for personal development. I felt that bodily activity was leading me to this approach. I discovered at that time, the virtues of breathing, muscle relaxation and positive visualizations. I have used these techniques all my life; They have often served me on my polar expeditions and in life in general.

When I started practicing sophrology. It was for me a form of fluid and natural continuity.
The results obtained by sports sophro-pedagogy are considerable in terms of performance but especially in terms of pleasure and accomplishment for athletes.

I myself am surprised to see the abilities and speed of progression in the athletes I accompany.

Why a particular focus on offshore racing even if I am open to supporting other sports?
Even if the sophrologist does not need to know the sport practiced by the person she or he accompanies, since all the information comes from the athlete himself, it is nevertheless likely that for a offshore racer, being followed by a sophrologist who has a long experience of offshore navigation (solo or crew) and who masters the jargon of the discipline will be all factors favoring the implementation of the relationship.

Sailing is a mechanical sport and the visualization of a complete maneuver for example, with a view to improving a technical gesture, can involve a complex sequence of steps with each a precise terminology.

It is also very likely that a sailing competitor feels more quickly confident with his sophrologist if he or she knows that the person who accompanies him, even if he is not his trainer, knows and can apprehend, in addition to other personal problems, those specific to the sport practiced, such as sleep management, noise, sudden movements, seasickness, long-term effort, bad weather, risk of collision with OFNI (Unidentified Floating Object), humidity, food, hygiene, technical problem, injury, daily life, moments of calm and relaxation, etc.

Support and complete follow-up in mental preparation is particularly recommended for high-level athletes. In this case, a seasonal or annual package may be considered. For others, a protocol usually lasts 8 to 12 weeks at the rate of one hour per week. Do not hesitate to give me a call or send me a message. A direct exchange is better than long texts or big speeches.

Best regards

“As for the future, it is not a question of predicting it but of making it possible”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Contact :
Olivier Pitras
0047 993 62 570

According to the code of ethics of the profession, the sophrologist is bound by strict professional secrecy.

Extract from the book “La Voie des glaces”, Olivier Pitras, Transboréal editions, page 210
Story of the “Trans-Arctic 99” expedition

On board Sunday, August 22, 1999

Extract from the logbook:

“The appalling nudity of this deserted and harsh universe strangely does not detract from the irresistible charm that emerges from it. This spell, this almost carnal fascination, is based on the fact that here, hostile nature sends us full force, without detour or concession, the image of our fragility. This evidence of each second reveals another, which is a miracle; consciousness, self-awareness, consciousness in action, the mind, its formidable power, its inexhaustible resources in the struggle for existence. It is the hymn to life. This expedition, whatever the outcome, makes me discover a higher spiritual dimension. Some might encounter God or faith there. I am content, without really realizing it, to lead my inner journey in parallel with the great fight outside.

I gain, I believe, in tenacity and confidence in myself but also in tolerance and humility, in love for life and for its motley procession. Knowing that the track is ice-free to Gjoa Haven has allowed me to take a step back from our ongoing commitment. We should arrive at the stopover in the early afternoon. I am happy. It was already so unlikely to make it this far. All hopes remain for the success of our challenge. In his time, Willy de Roos had not reached Gjoa Haven from the Atlantic until August 23. That’s a good sign.”

My hand was so numb from the cold when I wrote these lines that I had a hard time re-reading myself to write the book.

Olivier Pitras