Podium’s Podcast of the Week: An Interview with Dr. Geir Jordet
Geir Jordet is Associate Professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Sognsv, Norway. He is also a consultant to World Cup Soccer Teams and has done some remarkable work in studying who succeeds and who doesn’t in high pressure situations in a variety of sports, most notably Soccer.
Jordet gave one of the more alluminating lectures at AASP 2009 when he demonstrated numerous examples of mistakes made at the highest level – including Premier League competition where a referee blew the call, and video examples of missed penalty kicks that had two things in common: The kicker rushed the attempt, and, turned away from the goal keeper after setting the ball.
Jordet set the framework for these failures by illustrating the high status of the player or referee and the huge implications (high threat) resting on the outcome. For the athlete, their fear of failure – and – potentially excessive pressure felt in such circumstances routinely increase the likelihood of failure. Unless certain measures are employed to “neutralize the stress” and athletes recognize the common pressures felt by all, they will likely have trouble putting it all in perspective. Not only does Jordet get the athletes to talk about their fears, he does so in a variety of circumstances so as to neutralize the intensity of these emotions – for the choke comes when they destroy the athlete’s focus and concentration.
Perhaps the most interesting of Jordet’s work involved his study of air traffic controllers and surgical teams, where mistakes can be fatal. Predicated on the assumption that mistakes are as much a part of the game as great plays, he wanted to know how these teams addressed their problems, and what world class athletes might gain from their experience. The lessons learned from these groups were surprising, and they illustrated techniques coaches and teams can use in either preventing the high profile choke, and/or minimizing the damage that can come from it. There were some surprises as well…and cultural differences were recognizable when looking at how the teams reacted in those situations. The implications for developing team cohesion are huge.
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