Psychologists boost role in German sport
20 February 2004
HAMBURG – This is not about a candle light seance or walking on broken glass.
Recent examples have shown that sports psychology is a serious matter and more and more taking an important role in Germany.
Bayern Munich footballer Sebastian Deisler was treated for depression, Hanover’s Czech striker Jan Simak fled home with exhaustion syndrome and ski-jumper Sven Hannawald hides “in my snail shell” after poor showings.
These three examples represent only the most prominent cases as the list of athletes in Germany seeking help is much longer.
“The psychological aspect is gaining in importance, especially when things are not going well. The barrier for many things we do lies in the head, in the mental area,” said psychologist Hans Eberspaecher at Heidelberg university sports institute.
Eberspaecher, 60, has 30 years experience in the field and has accompanied German Olympic teams since 1976. He also works with national teams in various sports such as cycling and skiing.
The German umbrella sports body DSB has set up a sports psychology project ahead of the Olympics in Athens this summer.
“The analysis of the Sydney 2000 Games showed us that we need to make up ground in this field,” said DSB official Friedrich Krueger.
An Internet site (www.bisp-sportpsychologie.de) has been set up in which athletes seeking help can chose from 48 psychologists.
Germany’s number one sport, football, is still lagging behind in this aspect although this is about to change.
Bundesliga leaders Werder Bremen have found the ideal solution as their psychologist Uwe Harttgen is a former top-flight player.
Harttgen expressed his belief that every Bundesliga club will have their psychologist within the next five years.
The examples of Deisler and Simak show that they are needed to help players overcome their fears, assist them in recovery from injuries or by available in the case of burn out.
Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has lots of experience in dealing with the mental problems of players, but also favours a psychologist at the club.
The problem, however, is finding the right person who uses the right methods and not the famous walking on broken glass incident coach Christoph Daum once used in his unique motivation programme.
“There are a lot of gurus who live from the publicity,” warned Hitzfeld.
Subject: German news