Lots of athletes go to extreme lengths to imitate situations that they might get during a game, at training. This is called stress inoculation training.
Essentially, it is training to help keep a positive mindset. Stress inoculation training exposes athletes to stress induced exercises so they can get used to performing under stress like they would during a match. The athlete’s can then gradually increase the amounts of stress they put on themselves so they can perform better during a match.
There are usually 3 stages to stress inoculation training:
- A conceptualization phase, in which athelete becomes more aware of negative and positive thoughts (self-talk) and the affect it has on their performance.
- A rehearsal period – where an athlete learns to use self-talk, centring and other positive statements.
- Application phase – where athlete practises his or her skills. First in low stress environments and gradually building .
SIT is used in military training drills designed to improve water confidence, such as drown-proofing. In this case, trainees have their feet and hands bound behind their back and get into a deep swimming pool. Then, they must swim, bob from the bottom of the pool to the surface for breaths of air, and perform a variety of maneuvers.
Simulated stress in training should be as realistic as possible to achieve maximum benefit for the real event. A key element for successful stress inoculation is to have training which uses mental stress to produce hormonally induced heart rate and blood pressure increases rather than using exercise induced stress to mimic those physiologic responses. It is a mistake to believe that exercise induced heart rate or blood pressure increases will create a zone experience or optimum performance.
Positive self-talk and ‘tunnel vision’ are methods that Cristiano Ronaldo uses when he plays for his club and country. These are also reasons why he is such a dominant penalty shooter. Cristiano uses tunnel vision to block out any noise from the crowd, opposition and even his team mates. Once players start to realise how capable they are of taking free-kicks at training, they will start to apply this newly found confidence along side positive self-talk to perform at a desired level.
Additionally to emulated match situations we can use technology to then track the results and provide us with real data. Using SPT’s GPS tracking and software, we can easily track how we perform in training sessions versus games. Then we can can make informed decisions on our actionable data. Check out the video below to find out more.