Monday, December 12, 2016

Monty Panesar and the psychological toll of sport



There's a story in today's Guardian suggesting that athletes in individual events are more prone to experiencing depressive symptoms than are athletes in team events.

It quotes the German psychologist Professor J├╝rgen Beckmann:
“The real problem is with young athletes. Those who receive social support from parents and peers experience much less stress than those who don’t. That’s especially important during adolescence. 
“We found that up to 20% of young athletes do have a problem with higher depression scores. In the general population its range is between 9% and 12%. 
“We are not diagnosing them as being depressive, but on the depression scales they have quite a score.”
As regular readers will know, I am not one to show off, but the story has its origin in one of my press releases in the day job.

Not that athletes in team sports are without problems.

The New Statesman has a revealing interview by Emma John with the former England cricketer Monty Panesar about his psychological health problems and his desire to regain the top of the game:
England, now struggling in the Test series in India, are still looking for a long-term solution to their dearth of spin-bowling options. But it would be a long road for the Luton man to travel if he were to return to the Test side. 
Describing how little cricket he has played in the past few years, Panesar concedes that it left him unmoored. 
“When you haven’t bowled for ages you wonder: ‘What was I like?’ There was a point where I completely forgot what kind of cricketer I was. You just forget, your mind forgets. And then you sort of speak to people who knew you at your best. You ask: ‘What was I like?’”
He was very good.

As time goes on, England's victory in India in 2012-13, in which our spinners Panesar and Graeme Swann played the central role, gets to look more and more impressive.

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