The result comes from within and only when you win the game of your mind can you win on the field.
SPORTS MENTALIST Zlatko Olić is one of the few psychological coaches in Croatia, who improves the performance of athletes with mental preparations.
What if I miss? A terrifying thought that disrupts the players’ focus, and under such pressure even the greatest fell. Roberto Baggio has admitted that he has never come to terms with the missed penalty in 1994, which handed the World Cup trophy to the Brazilians. Because under the pressure of hundreds of millions of viewers around the world in the most important moment of his career, the goal looks much smaller than it is. At such a moment, fear will certainly appear and a lot depends on whether the player will control the emotion or the emotion him. Sometimes the final outcome of such a situation does not make a significant difference, and sometimes those few seconds decide on those that will be remembered. In those moments, mental strength is the athlete’s main weapon.
Zlatko Olić (46) is one of the few mental trainers in Croatia, and for the last four years he has been training his mind through his own “Just Flow” program. Among other things, it cooperates with the Zagreb Football Association and numerous clubs and athletes throughout Croatia. He played football in his youth, and today he approaches it scientifically.
-There are four elements of sports preparation: technique, tactics, physical preparation and mental or psychological preparation. The “Just Flow” program is based on the fourth element, which is worked on in a systematic and structured manner. The techniques used in the program are a mixture of neuroscience, applied communication and sports psychology – Olić presents his program.
Ancelotti’s mind room
The goal is to achieve a state of “flow” or zone, work on focus, self-confidence, motivation… And thus improve performance. – The state of “flow” or zone means complete absorption in the moment, it means that the player is completely focused and concentrated. It is achieved when the player’s brainwaves are in an alpha state. We can also call it a state of complete consciousness, and it is made up of three elements. These are complete focus, dedication to the game and enjoyment of it. In the state of the zone, each game participant uses his full potential – explains our “mentalist”. This science was created precisely within sports in the 70s, and it finds its foundations in the concept of the “Inner Game of Tennis”, from where the practice spread to other sports as well. – We use many different methods and techniques. The model is the working principle as practiced in Milan, where Carlo Ancelotti played an important role in the concept called “Mind room” and George Mumford’s methods, according to which the Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, worked – says Olić, so continues: – The program includes an analysis of the current situation with the aim of transferring the potential of the present moment to the future. We learn how to observe emotion and manage it, deal with pressure, work on self-confidence, find motivation, make the subconscious work in our favor and at its best. Namely, our brain is like any other muscle and changes by perfecting new skills. It has a certain plasticity, which means that the structure of the brain can change, and given that it is connected to the entire body system, the body also changes – he explains.
The ultimate goal? “Collective reengineering”, says Olić.
– This means that the culture of the sports environment is changing or strengthening. An example is Real Madrid with a culture of winning. If your head is in the “here and now” moment, it means that you forget previous moments, mistakes in the game and negative emotions. That’s why Real can score from the first kick in the final minutes, because they don’t allow themselves to be defined by an awkward result or looking at the clock, so that they lose their heads. People call it luck, but it’s actually about maximum focus. It is similar with Rafael Nadal. He doesn’t care about the result and the time, he looks at each point as separate. Everything he does, which we call “ticks”, are ways he maintains the state of the zone.
The outer result comes from within
In addition to the aforementioned athletes, he cites Ronaldo, Salah, Haaland, Đoković, LeBron, Bruce Lee as examples of an excellent mindset…
– The external result comes from the inside. Only when you win the game of your mind can you win on the field. In order to succeed in this, you need direction – Olić concluded.