Dr. Joan’s Sports Psych Talk: High altitude training
In Tahoe, the team of 20 kids plan to acclimate to altitude. The team consists of 16 boys and 4 girls, ranging in age from 14-19. The format of each day is structured as follows: practice yoga, team meeting, breakfast and clean up, ride for 2-4 1/2 hours, lunch, bike maintenance, and dinner. There is participation in everything the team does. Each team member does a daily job, including food prep, meal clean up, and general housecleaning. For meals, the kids act as sous chefs for “Papa D – delish”, as Dario has been amply nicknamed. Dario has established three main goals for the camp, train best, take best care of self, and have fun.
To take the best care of self, Dario emphasizes yoga, good nutrition, and low stress. The camp provides a sense of bonding for the team and coaches/mentors. From Tahoe, the girls will go on to race Downieville Classic Mountain Bike Race in California and the boys go to the UCI USA CTS International Mountain Bike Stage Race in Utah. At Nationals not only will the kids race but many of the coaches will as well.
With a B.A. in sports psychology and a master’s in exercise science, Dario’s underlying orientation has a strong psychological foundation.
His integrative approach includes a sports psychology component. This important but often overlooked factor in sports performance is critical in sports competition and training. The focus of their training encourages the kids to do their best and give it their all. The emphasis is on “process and preparation as opposed to outcome.” The philosophy is to “focus on the moment” as you take the steps along the way.
The mantra of the Whole Athlete is:
• In the face of adversity I will persevere.
• Discipline is quality of focus, not quantity of training.
• Humility builds self-respect.
• I am not a passive participant, but an active player.
• I am strong in my body, my will and my spirit.
• Although I prepare for the future, I live in the moment.
• I practice equanimity despite the outcome.
• Integrity defines achievement.
The Whole Athlete’s integrative approach in the High Altitude Training camp emphasizes all the best components to lay a foundation for achievement for these young mountain bike riders. The junior development cycling team seems fully equipped physiology and psychology to reach for the best in mountain biking and life.
Dr. Joan Steidingeris a sports and clinical psychologist with offices in Mill Valley and San Francisco. She has been practicing sports psychology with clients ranging from recreational to pro athletes for the past 17 years.
As an athlete herself, she has been a competitive ultrarunner, Ride & Tie competitor, and ultradistance cyclist.