Papendal: Sports place to be


Hey Credo mates,
Remember the previous article about sport psychology? The article in which I visited a sports psychologist at her own practice and got the opportunity to interview her? Well, I have some good news. I am able to add a new chapter to this journey of reporting you about sport psychology and sports.

On the 17th of March I was invited by the sports psychologist to attend the Day of the Athletics at Papendal, which is located along the Westside of Arnhem (The capital of the biggest state in The Netherlands, Gelderland). I was able to experience what it is like to be a sports psychologist for one day.  It took place during the national ‘Day of Athletics’ at Papendal. Papendal is the epicentre of sports education, sports in general and sports events in The Netherlands. Olympic athletes like Dafne Schippers, Churandy Martina, Jelle van Gorkom and Laura Smulders train, eat and live here. When you enter the gates of this impressive sports accommodation you can smell the air of sports. Just around the corner of the entrance, there are huge orange billboards with the traditional Olympic rings. On these billboards, the employees from Papendal show how many days are left for the next Olympic Games, just like the electric scoreboard of a handball match.

A few metres further you could recognise the yellow black colours of Vitesse Arnhem, the local professional Football Club of Arnhem. The as good as new training centre of Vitesse was financed by the rich businessman from Georgia, Merab Jordania. It wasn’t a bridge too far for him to paint the stands in gold. Football is not the only sport that is supported by Papendal. BMX, Archery, Gymnastics, Athletics and many more are also part of this big complex. That’s why a event like the ‘Day of Athletics’ could take place at Papendal.

Let’s move now to the event itself. The day started at 9.00 in the morning with a general presentation of Charles van Commenée, former Chef de Mission of the Dutch Olympic Athletes, and currently the head coach of UK Athletics.

After that, there were three workshop rounds, with a lunch break in between. I got the opportunity to watch three workshops of the sports psychologist I was with. I learned a lot of about her method of coaching. She uses the method of “GASS and BRAKE”. Some athletes need GASS before a match, most of them are quite introvert. An athlete like Dafne Schippers, the current World Champion on the 200m & silver medalist of Rio de Janeiro 2016 on the 200m, needs some pep talk to focus on the coming game.

Other athletes need more BRAKE. An amazing athlete like Usain Bolt, who had sadly ended his career as 100 metres sprinter but decided to become a football player, is almost always very noisy and shows cocky behavior around matches. It could possibly work for him to take some rest at his hotel room or to consider meditation mindfulness. This is in short her method. These are all advises, so they are not mandatory.

Besides, I got the opportunity to speak to some other trainers during the lunch break. I met Gerard Nijboer. He won a silver medal at the Olympic Games of Moscow in 1980. Nowadays, he started a business with heart rate monitors. In addition, I met a delegation of PAC, an athlete club next to the Kralingse Plas in Rotterdam. Which is quite accidentally, because the sports psychologist and I were both from Rotterdam. But I used to live eighteen years in Velp, 20km from Papendal. So, Papendal was not all new to me. I visited about 4-5 the BMX Cross and sometimes I go bike there in the beautiful nature and on their beautiful cycling course.

The most information of the workshops I already knew, because I read her book Gas en Rem in de sport – Mentaal sterk coachen. Since the end of 2017 we now have one professor of sport psychology. I hope this is a snowball at the top of a mountain, which enlarges by the day. In Groningen, there are already some parties combining science with sports. For instance, there is the SSIG(= Sport Science Institute Groningen). This institute mainly focuses on symposia, workshops etc.

I hope you got to know some more about my fascination for sports and sport psychology. If you have questions about Papendal or about my experiences, feel free to ask!

Or you could search some info below:

By Jean-Luc Budel


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