We are talking about psychological preparation for fights "on home field". We also hope that the advice will be useful in any other situation.
Use the trump cards of home field
Marek, tell us as experienced psychologist, how can our athletes use what they fight in their territory, at home? Is this an advantage?
Marek Milczarek: Hello everyone. The question is interesting. On the one hand, the Zloty Tur will be held in our country, but since we have always been the hosts of this event, many athletes associate it with Poland. As a result, they can feel at home here and experience less pressure.
Although I do not know if pressure plays any role for athletes of this level. Usually on the Zloty Tur there are no athletes who are just starting their way in armwrestling, here, rather, those who "ate the teeth" in arm-wrestling.
Of course, there will be some newcomers who will first come to the World Cup, and I have advice for them. You must come to the struggle with a calm head and without complexes. Perhaps, this time you will come across rival who was your idol. But you can not give up fighting or succumb.
During such fights, the head is very important. I can recall the situation with Rafal Wozny at the last Cup of Poland. He felt self-control, inner control, or even cold. Watching Rafal, I also saw not only self-confidence, but also awareness of skills and strength. Thanks to this, he pulled with players who were theoretically better. Therefore, you should always remember this. Like the fact that the best athletes are just people who make mistakes. And, of course, we can not forget the fans, most of whom should be on the side of their athletes.
Can you say that playing “on home field” is akin to doping?
Marek Milczarek: Of course, yes. Therefore, as I said earlier, a big task on the side of the fans. Usually in armwrestling there is no such support, as on football matches. Therefore, the right support of fans can slightly embarrass the visiting athlete, especially if he is not used to such an atmosphere. As I said, many who come to us for several years in a row will not feel pressure because of someone else's territory. But a crowd of good fans can cause such an athlete to lose some of his confidence and decisive momentum. As we know, a properly motivated athlete can make miracles, but also screaming fans can disorient him. But, despite all this, it's worth the risk. So, ladies and gentlemen, I urge you not to disappoint athletes and provide them with the necessary support.
How can I show my opponent that "I do not care, I am at home"? And is it even possible?
Marek Milczarek: First of all, we must remember that we are at home. And do not give in, because we have a more experienced and titled player. So what? I'm at home, and I dictate the rules!
Usually in armwrestling fights are short. Opponents often meet just before the fight, so there is not much time for the so-called "psychological warfare". So you should try to demonstrate my dominance using body language. Therefore, we straighten, we reduce the shoulder blades, the chest with the wheel.
It's also good to look straight in the eyes. And here I have a trick. Many people usually do not get it, because the look "jumps" from one eye to the other. But just look between the eyebrows. Then our sight remains in one place, and there is no impression of "nerves". In addition, it is much easier to maintain concentration.
These little tricks that can signal dominance can be set. Sometimes it is enough to jerk when you are in the capture position.
You can interrupt the opponent to go to the table. In general, the demonstration of domination is another element of the fight. And do not forget that it works well in martial arts "trash talk". This warms up not only the opponent, but also the fans (or at least a significant part of them), and works for us, because that's how we build self-confidence. In arm wrestling, I did not come across this, but it would be possible to warm up the atmosphere.
Can you "show advantage" through some element of clothing?
Marek Milczarek: No. And I do not recall any kind of sport in which clothes would be made specially for a rival.
And the masks and helmets of the goalkeeper in hockey?
Marek Milczarek: It hardly works :-) During the fights, no attention is paid to this. Especially when the form is strictly defined in the rules. But do not be afraid to say if you think that the enemy is dressed incorrectly. All this off balance and shifts the focus before the fight. And most of all it irritates the enemy.
And maybe ... if our coach will shout something to the opponent?
Marek Milczarek: I do not think so. During the battle, such lonely cries in the majority do not reach the wrestler. Yes, during the battle we will hear advice, because he treats us. But all other voices at this stage will be muffled. Thus, the athlete simply does not hear him shouting from the opposing team. Especially also in an unfamiliar language. Note that fighters often do not hear the team of the referee who breaks the fight.
Okay, let's go back to competitions in our country, but in another city. How here to feel at home?
Marek Milczarek: So, how you feel at home. There is nothing that could replace these four walls or the street where we feel better. But always it is necessary to support each other. We need to be close to friends, among whom we feel better. I understand that many athletes can not afford it, but it's good to come to the city where the competitions are held, a little earlier, in time to get used to, acclimatize.
This is especially important if the altitude is changing above sea level. For example, the last Polish Cup was held in Jabłonka Orawska. I know that the city's location is about 600 meters above sea level. Warsaw is about 500 meters below. I know that many players have felt this difference. Headaches, problems with sleep. Sometimes pain in the joints. Anxiety during the battle. And you understand that you do not know why it happened.
What else? How else?
Marek Milczarek: It's also good to use autocompletion. This may seem ridiculous, but even the repetition of "I'm the best" can help us. Because at some point we really start to believe in it. And then we feel much more confident. Do not be afraid if one day something does not work out.
Marek Milczarek: Sometimes it's worth talking to a psychologist. This is not a sign of weakness, as a stereotype. A specialized sports psychologist can perfectly prepare mentally all the challenges.
Music in the headphones and music "at the entrance" - helps?
Marek Milczarek: Of course, yes. Music is a very important element. He leads us into the mood that we need. In my opinion, players should be able to choose their music to enter. At least, it is worth to find a common language with the person responsible for the sound system.
Thanks for the advice!
Marek Milczarek: I'm glad if I helped someone!
Marek Milczarek is an arm wrestler; referee; a psychologist with a specialization in social psychology; boxing fan; psychologist in primary school 374 in Warsaw; husband and father of two children.