Learning from Top-Class Sport

Delivering the highest performance at just the right time, motivating one’s body and oneself while achieving inner balance – top athletes are true masters in this area. There’s a lot to be learned here.

How do professional athletes manage to focus all their concentration on the competition and put aside all other concerns at this point? How do they handle setbacks and start fresh with new drive? We find these topics exciting and would like to see whether some concepts from the world of sport can be transferred to professional and private life. Therefore, Roche invited experienced professionals from the field of engineering to get to know and experience the methods and techniques of the top athletes together with a number of Roche representatives.

Jürgen Boss, managing partner of projekt-dialog gmbh, is convinced that inner attitude is the decisive motivating factor for people. As a former handball player, he also applies this knowledge intensively to top teams, professional athletes and trainers and it is also a significant element in the work of coaching teams and managers, including those at Roche. He uses the potential from the link between sport and science in order to accomplish the most with unusual approaches. In his speech at Roche, in addition to a theoretical introduction, he placed his focus on practical exercises to demonstrate the functionality of the brain as well as various reaction patterns. His instructions were followed with enthusiasm and great commitment to try them out in boxing. Subsequently, Daniel Strigel, Director of the Olympic Games Base Rhine-Neckar and Olympic bronze medal winner, illustrated the distribution of performance in professional sports and the significance of active breaks using the example of a training plan. In the afternoon, they put into practice what they learned in the morning. The participants changed their perspective and climbed into the boxing ring. Naturally not without first warming up with Valdimir Pletnev, Olympic gold medalist, world champion and coach of the national team of the German boxing association.  Throughout the coaching, each participant received direct feedback.  

During the entire event, the participants had the chance to exchange experiences and network with Roche employees. A frequent comment made by the participants at the end of the event: “Roche was unknown to me an employer for engineers. Through the discussions with the experts, I first became aware of the potential Roche also offers for engineers.”

A Look at the World of Sports

Interview with Daniel Strigel

What was your recipe for success at the Olympics?

The Olympics is the preliminary highlight of decades of training and preparation. Between 1994 (first time on the junior national team) and 2004 (bronze medal in Athens in 2004) a lot happened, so a specific “recipe” cannot be clearly defined. However, specifically at the Olympic Games, I faced a particular challenge. I had to interrupt my training one year prior to the Games due to a torn cruciate ligament and, therefore, precisely at the peak of my career, my stamina was not at its peak. I was able to compensate for it by using “self-hypnosis”, my favorite relaxation method, during the breaks between the bouts. Without this piece of the puzzle, it would not have gone so well, so that could be described as a “recipe for success at the Olympics”.

How did you manage to focus on a top performance and to free your head from everything else?

Yes, a “peak performance” and a “free mind” are, indeed, closely linked. It boils down to the term “flow”, which is, naturally, also used in sports psychology. It is necessary to be completely immersed and absorbed in the current activity. And one can be neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed by the current situation. The key when talking to oneself as well as in shaping all controllable environmental factors is to model each situation as closely as possible to a “flow-situation”. That requires practice, from simple things to difficult things. After a number of years, it will hopefully also succeed in the most important situations.

While others find their balance in sports after work, sport is your profession. Where did you find your balance?

Working out after work certainly takes some getting used to when the office is in the middle of a sports complex. But it’s not really about doing sports, it’s about balance. And so in the first place, it is important to be able to change internal roles as smoothly as possible from “tension” to “relaxation”. Thanks to competitive sports, I was able to develop the competence to manage this transition in the course of the day as well as after work. That’s why I don’t necessarily need external stimuli like sports activities to transition to “relaxation”.

Interview with Jürgen Boss:

How do you support the athletes at the base?

What’s most important for the athletes is to support them in achieving an inner state where they can call up their resources and potential – that is “to be on their toes”. That is, in turn, good training for me to make use of my emphatic skills and also the ability to find uncomplicated and quick solutions. I can intensively conduct experiments for professional referees during world and European championships (usually 2-3 weeks) regarding internal and external attitudes with optimum technical/medial support – the results can be seen (on TV) and continue to be used accordingly.

Do you also benefit from the methods yourself?

If one has been on the playing field oneself, it is possible to imagine the stress these people are under and have to work (make decisions) under this stress (emotional and physical). I don’t benefit alone from the effectiveness of the method in overcoming difficult situations at work and everyday life, also our participants benefit since I am happy to share these tips and tricks. It is a give and take. And in this work, one receives a lot of gratefulness in return.

Tags: Career Blog, Germany