What A Sports Psychologist Has To Say About The Olympics – NPR

NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with sports psychologist Dr. Mark Aoyagi about the way athletes deal with psychological pressure at the Olympics.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Tokyo 2020 – as we all know, they are some of the most unusual Olympics on record. First off, they’re taking place a year after they were scheduled. They’re shrouded by a pandemic. There are no real fans in attendance. I mean, as if competing against world-class athletes wasn’t enough pressure. So to talk about the routine ways athletes deal with their anxiety and how all of that is amped up during this Olympics, we’re joined now by Mark Aoyagi. He’s co-director of sport and performance psychology at the University of Denver.

Welcome.

MARK AOYAGI: Thank you for having me.

CHANG: So, you know, already psychology has been at the forefront of these games, given all the extra burdens that these athletes are carrying. But what’s really interesting about these games is how the athletes are talking about mental health. Like, Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Katie Ledecky – all these Olympians are talking about the tremendous psychological stress that these games are causing. This feels like a real shift – right? – in how athletes are
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