Twitter for the Games of The XXX Olympiad

Today's athletes deal with things early athletes never could have dreamed of. Learn how today's Olympic athletes should approach Twitter.

Twitter

The upcoming Games of the XXX Olympiad promise to feature extraordinary stories of personal triumph. They will also illuminate several elements of sports psychology. From the original, ancient Olympic games, held from the 8th Century BC to the 4th Century AD, to today's competitions, watching elite athletes pursue Olympic Gold has always offered exceptional glimpses into their lives. But the ancient Olympic games were played before the growth of sports media, and they did not include a significant distraction that today's athletes have to deal with: social networking.

Social media have become so ubiquitous that the International Olympic Committee felt compelled to issue over three pages of guidelines on social networking, tweeting and blogging. Here is a quote from the guidelines summarizing the IOC's basic position:

"The IOC encourages participants and other accredited persons to post comments on social media platforms or websites and tweet during the Olympic Games, and it is entirely acceptable for a participant or any other accredited person to do a personal posting, blog or tweet. However, any such postings, blogs or tweets must be in a first-person, diary-type format and should not be in the role of a journalis—i.e., they must not report on competition or comment on the activities of other participants or accredited persons, or disclose any information which is confidential or private in relation to any other person or organization."

Confused? The guidelines encourage the use of tweets and blogging, but they limit athletes to "personal" commentary. It's OK to tweet about yourself but not others.

Twitter offers a way for athletes to communicate with their fans directly. By nature, it is spontaneous, personal and exciting. Athletes can use it to "build their brands" and contribute an insider's perspective on the Games. On the negative side, Olympic athletes might inadvertently tweet personal observations that do not comply with IOC guidelines. Should athletes be willing to take the risk?

Presenting opportunities to compete against the best in the world, together with the privilege of representing one's country, the Olympic Games test the mental skills of even the most confident and accomplished competitors. So why would athletes allow themselves to take any kind of risk? Sports psychology literature supports the efficacy of narrow attention focus during pre-performance routines.

 To insure optimal performance, athletes need to JUST SAY NO to tweeting.

Why? Here are 5 top reasons:

#5: Keep yourself in your own performance bubble. Protect yourself from outside distractions. They will not contribute positively to your performance.

#4: Do not risk divulging personal information or observations. They are just that: personal.

#3: Do not let thoughts of other competitors get inside your head. Stay on top of your own mental game by adhering consistently to your established routines.

#2: You may keep a journal or a blog that you can post after the Games. If you win a medal, others will learn about you and want to know your story.

And, the top reason to say NO to Tweeting: 
Conserve your physical, emotional and psychological energy for peak performance to go for the gold.

Note: the author is an active Twitter user who generally recommends its use—but not during competition at the Games of the XXX Olympiad.

photo credit: csncalifornia.com


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: OLYMPICS | SPORTS | NETWORKING | OLYMPIC GAMES | SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY