Friday, February 24, 2006

Green meditation

Desafío Español 2007, the Spanish America's Cup challenger, presented yesterday afternoon their new addition to the team and an innovative yet increasingly popular method to reduce stress among the crew members.

Mr Andrés Martín Asuero recently joined the Spanish syndicate in order to apply his vast experience in MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). Under his guidance, team members will carry out a specially designed program whose aim is to reduce their stress and pressure levels, resulting in better performance.

MBSR has been designed and developed by the Medical School of the University of Massachusets in 1979 and offers a powerful, integrated approach to working with one's daily physical, emotional and psychological stress. In the 25 years that exists, MBSR has been applied by tens of universities, companies and sports teams. Two of the world's most famous and successful sports franchises, the LA Lakers and the Chicago Bulls, have been applying this method since the mid 1990's.

In addition to the obvious stress-producing factors that exist in every top professional sports team, America's Cup teams have two singularities that increase stress even further. Firstly, unlike other sports, the yacht's crew is confined in a very small space during many hours. Individual team members do not have the opportunity to break away from the rest of the team and put on an inidividual show. All 17 team members must spend many hours on a daily basis aboard the yacht, both for training as well as racing. In addition, teamwork and coordination are extremely important. The team must work like a Swiss watch and performance will be as good as the weakest link. As a result, tensions and animosity can spring up when so many top athletes work under such pressure so close together.

The Desafío Español team at the beginning of their relaxation session. Photo taken by Valencia Sailing

Secondly, unlike any other sport, not only team members are top professional athletes they also have a second "technical" nature. Each crew member must take care of the good performance and maintenance of the boat's part he is responsible for. He has a dual athlete-technician role, a condition that creates even more pressure and stress. When something breaks on the yacht while racing it's the sailors that have to fix it under very adverse conditions. Michael Jordan surely never had to worry about a broken basket! A sailor's daily work doesn't finish when the boat returns to the base after sailing but continues on shore for a long period a time. Finally, quite often team members contribute to the design and construction of the team's boat.

After a very interesting and complete explanation of MBRS fundamentals, the team carried out one of their weekly sessions in the VIP area of the base. These sessions consist mainly of specially designed yoga exercices as well as group discussions.

The wish of all Valencian journalists at the presentation was that the Green Team could be as successful as the other two NBA Dream Teams that applied these methods.

The Desafío Español team stretching under the watchful eye of tens of journalists and photographs. Photo taken by Valencia Sailing

The Desafío Español team meditating. Photo taken by Valencia Sailing

The Desafío Español team meditating, under the guidance of Andrés Martín Asuero. Photo taken by Valencia Sailing


Post a Comment

<< Home