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Naomi Osaka case exposes the need for mental conditioning among athletes

Local News

MENASHA, Wisc., (WFRV) – Dr. Frank Cummings of the Psychology Associates of the Fox Cities says the decision by tennis star Naomi Osaka to withdraw from the French Open for mental health reasons exposes the need for preparing athletes for loss both in competition and practice.

Dr. Cummings tells Local 5 News that athletes can be at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. “It mostly depends upon the reaction of three groups; their teammates, their coaches, and their parents,” explains Dr. Cummings. “So if they have a supporting role with the athlete and you’ve got all three-the trifecta it’s really going to lower the risk for anxiety.”

Dr. Cummings uses the same strategies to train for the resilience of an athlete that is used by the U.S. Olympics team and Green Bay Packers. He has personally seen the mental conditioning work on professional NFL players through his work with the Packers organization.

“When you’re on a losing streak, there’s a lot of negativity that comes about between parents coaches athletes,” says Dr. Cummings. “The thing that makes a big difference between elite and nonelite athletes is goal setting. Sitting down with them and developing individual goals for practice and competition.”

Dr. Cummings says it takes practice.

“It’s about letting them forget the last hit they missed or last goal they didn’t make and focus on what is your objective on the next play.”

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