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Adidas Unveils Its Ambition To Help Athletes Overcome high Pressure Moments In Sport

  • adidas sets out to tackle the negative impact of pressure in sport as it reveals that grassroot athletes can experience up to the same amount of pressure as those at elite level, but are less equipped to handle it

  • To understand the physiological effect pressure has, adidas partnered with leading sport neuroscientists, neuro11, studying sporting icons.

  • From tactically using time to regain focus in basketball, revealing the optimal area of a goal to strike a penalty, to reducing dwell time on putting in golf, adidas is releasing a neuroscience-powered athlete guidance series 

South Africa, February 12th 2024: adidas unveils its ambition to help disarm negative pressure in sport by working with elite and grassroots athletes to reveal the impact it can have on performance. Uncovering how pressure has a significant impact on the next-generation's relationship with sport, affecting enjoyment and overall participation,spearheaded by the brand's positive rallying cry – You Got This – the goal is to help everyday athletes disarm pressure and achieve their possibilities in sport.

Through cutting-edge research, adidas discovered the extent to which pressure is experienced across all levels of sport. The main finding from this study was that grassroots athletes and their elite counterparts experience similarly intense levels of pressure in high-stake moments - but elite athletes were up to 40% more effective at managing pressure during these moments1. To help close this gap, adidas is working with leading neuroscientists, neuro11, to set out how and why negative pressure hinders play, whilst providing guidance on how athletes at all levels can help to disarm this feeling.

Bringing together a selection of its elite athletes across football, basketball, and golf, as well as grassroot players from the same sports, adidas and neuro11 captured and analysed their cerebral readings during high pressure moments. FIFA World Cup 2022 winner Emiliano Martínez, Ryder Cup 2023 champion Ludvig Åberg, eight-time WNBA All-Star Nneka Ogwumike, breakthrough golfing phenom Rose Zhang, and WSL star forward Stina Blackstenius all took part in the study to help athletes around the world better understand pressure and how to overcome it.

Dr Niklas Häusler, co-founder of neuro11 says, "While pressure looks and feels different for everyone, there is a scientific sweet spot in the brain that all can reach – the optimal zone, commonly referred to as "being in the zone". This is where the brain is physically relaxed but mentally focussed, leading to optimal movement and performance. When we work with athletes, we study their brain frequencies to establish how often and how deeply they enter this optimal zone during pressure moments, as well as what contributes to them falling into 'too low' or 'too high' zones for performance, all with the intention of teaching routines that they can implement. Building on this, and in support of adidas' mission to help everyday athletes realise their potential, we have created practical guidance that helps enhance performance, when it matters the most."

Delving deeper into some of the most pressured moments in sport, adidas and neuro11 studied professional and amateur athletes during penalty shootouts, high-stakes putts, and must-make free-throws. Through measuring how their brains reacted and calculating how effectively and efficiently each athlete was able to reach the optimal zone, the findings demonstrate to what extent the elite athletes are better prepared in facing pressure and show what steps grassroots athletes can take to help better disarm pressure.

When talking about pressure in his game Siya Kolisi shared "Captaining my country in two Rugby World Cups was a tremendous honor, but it came with a lot of pressure. I was acutely aware of the high expectations, as the competition held great significance not just for us as a team, but for all our fans as well. Amidst this, my coaches often reminded us that the real pressure lies in the daily challenges faced by our people, such as unemployment and other social ills. This perspective was grounding. It taught me to view playing rugby (the game I love) and representing South Africa as a profound privilege, an opportunity to lift spirits and inspire hope. I learned to reframe the pressure I felt in light of the experiences of those who supported us. As athletes, we often face moments of pressure; it's part of what we do. However, we have the power to harness that pressure by reframing it in light of the people who stand with us."

Florian Alt, VP Global Brand Comms at adidas says: "Understanding the extent to which negative pressure affects performance underlines the importance of our mission to help athletes across the world overcome it - to fully unlock the joy sport brings. Ahead of a stellar year of sport, we've set out to inspire next-gen athletes to tackle pressure by giving them unique insight into how some of the world's best athletes manage pressure. Using the latest in neuroscience data and research, we have also released tools and techniques to help empower everyone to disarm pressure in sport. We hope this campaign enables athletes to get back to what they love about the game - by reminding them with our positive rallying cry – you got this."

Over the course of the new global brand campaign adidas will continue to unite a wide range of sporting icons to demonstrate how they handle pressure in some of the most high-stakes moments, inspiring everyday athletes to do the same. Coming to life through a series of star-studded content and activations alongside some of the biggest spectacles in the sporting calendar, adidas' message dedicated to the next generation of athletes is to believe they can overcome pressure to achieve their possible possibilities in sport.

The episodic fly-on-the-wall style series will be available on adidas' Instagram and YouTube channels from 8th February 2024. Visit adidas. co.za  to explore more about the campaign.

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