After discussing some important in-game aspects including tilt and burnout, as well as coping with setbacks and losses in our previous interview. Now, Anja talks to us about the role of parents in helping the next generation of esports players with mental health, as well as building confidence and recovering from mental slumps during games. If you missed part two, you can check it out here.
BLIX: A lot of the upcoming players are young, and some parents are strict in how their kids spend their time online. What role do parents play in helping the mental health of future esports players?
Anja Suder: Esports is, for many parents, an unknown territory, and there's been a somewhat negative narrative when it comes to gaming and its effects on socialization and development. We're starting to see more organizations taking on academy teams, similar to traditional sports clubs, which I think can benefit young and upcoming esports players. They learn the social dynamics and requirements of being a professional esports athlete. I would like to see workshops or websites for parents where they can enter a space where all their personal questions and concerns can be addressed. They can get educated on how to support their child in pursuing a professional career in esports while being aware of signs that their child might be pushing themselves too hard. At home, open communication, in which experiences and challenges can be shared by their child, provides social support that aids in the development of the esports athlete.
BLIX: They say, "Believe you can and you’re halfway there", how can players build and maintain their confidence?
Anja Suder: Confidence does indeed play a role in success. People might have different views on what confidence truly means; it's often portrayed as a 'feeling.' However, to me, confidence, at its core, comes from a solid foundation in one's own abilities, thorough preparation and a deep understanding of one's strengths and areas for growth. Based on that, a good way of building and maintaining confidence is to get to know what your abilities are, how you can use them to your best advantage and setting a clear plan of what you want and the necessary steps to get there.
Similarly, putting the time into preparation, for instance, knowing how the opponent plays, can also play a role in confidence, as you mentally prepare yourself for upcoming challenges and situations. In addition, confidence that exists on a team level, which comes from thinking and behaving as a unit, is where the magic truly happens. I think at these moments, this is when we witness some of the most beautiful games.
BLIX: Losing confidence is common after a bad map in a BO3 series. How can players recover from a mental slump and loss of confidence to perform better on the next map?
Anja Suder: I think a healthy approach is to look at concepts such as confidence and motivation resembling a wave, it comes and goes. Sometimes there’s more of it, sometimes there’s less, with the reasons behind these fluctuations can vary. But when confidence is rooted in factors such as thorough preparation and a solution-focused mindset, rather than solely relying on recent performances and results, it becomes more resilient. This approach provides a stronger foundation that is not easily shaken, because solid confidence consists of two fundamental truths: firstly, that everything, including wins and losses, is transient and secondly, that achieving consistent high performance and results is a gradual, long-term process. So, in that sense, a way of recovering from a ‘mental slump’ between the maps is the acknowledgment that a single loss in a series does not define the entire journey, but instead an opportunity for learning and refinement of strategies.
BLIX: Can you provide some tips for gamers on how to take better care of their mental health and how to cope with the pressure?
Anja Suder: Absolutely! Don’t hesitate to reach out to others for support. Friends, family, teammates, or professionals care about your well-being, so sharing your thoughts and experiences can provide a valuable source of support. Whether you are a casual gamer, aspiring to become a professional, or already on the elite level, establishing a consistent routine is key for mental well-being, and be willing to adapt your routine to nurture a balance between pushing yourself forward and taking the time to recharge. Similarly, having big goals and dreams about winning trophies and being the best is great, but without setting some smaller goals as milestones, getting to the top can seem distant and unmanageable, further adding pressure on yourself. Take a good, realistic look at yourself, figure out what small steps are necessary to support your ambition of reaching the top. And while you are taking the smaller steps, and amidst the competitive grind, take moments to enjoy your progress and successes of those milestones. Acknowledge your growth and allow yourself to enjoy the journey.
Anja offered us some inspiring words in closing: “I hope that my answers provide some food for thought. Esports is constantly evolving, and we've got elite players pushing themselves to remarkable achievements. It is important to remember that this involves all of us. To everyone in this incredible esports community, let's make sure to take care of ourselves and look out for one another and shape a community that's about thriving competition, world-class plays, camaraderie and enjoyment! - Anja Suder”
We’d like to thank Anja for sharing her expertise with us in this behind-the-scenes look at psychology in esports. Keep an eye out for more behind-the-scenes breakdowns and interviews with esports experts here on BLIX.