Para-athletwr elit yn y gamp tenis cadair olwyn, a myfyriwr Seicoleg

Mae Fran Smith yn fyfyrwraig lefel 4 ar y cwrs BSc Seicoleg ym Mrhifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd. Yma, mae hi’n dweud wrthym am rhan arall pwysig iawn o’i bywyd ble mae hi’n hyfforddi fel chwaraewr tenis cadair olwyn a sut mae Seicoleg wedi helpu gyda hyn.

 

Fy enw yw Fran Smith, rwy’n 18 oed, ac yn bara-athletwr elit yn y gamp tenis cadair olwyn. Cefais gyfle i fynychu fy ngwersyll tenis cadair olwyn cyntaf ar 05/06/17 ac ar hyn o bryd rwyf wedi cyrraedd y brig o blith merched iau Prydain ac yn dal safle 38 o blith merched iau y byd. Ar hyn o bryd rwyf yn fy chweched mis o chwarae ac yn ystod y cyfnod hwnnw rwyf wedi ennill yr aur mewn tenis merched iau i senglau a pharau yn y British Open yng Ngemau Ysgolion 2017.

Mae hyn yn swnio’n dipyn o gamp, tydi? Efallai fod hynny’n wir, ond wnes i ddim eistedd mewn cadair olwyn chwaraeon gyda raced tenis a datblygu’r gallu anhygoel i chwarae.

Roeddwn i eisoes wedi chwarae tenis am 13 mlynedd gan ddefnyddio fy nghoesau. Ond erbyn imi gyrraedd 16 oed roedd rhaid i mi roi’r gorau iddi oherwydd nid oedd fy nghorff yn ymdopi, ac roedd y perygl o wneud niwed difrifol i’m coesau yn rhy uchel. Am 6 blynedd rwyf wedi bod mewn brwydr gyda’m corff a gyda’r Gwasanaeth Iechyd. Gyda’i gilydd, rwyf wedi gweld 6 ffisiotherapydd (2 arbenigwr), 2 rhiwmatolegydd, 1 niwrolegydd, 1 arbenigwr clust-trwyn-gwddf (ENT) ac un meddyg teulu pryderus dros ben.

Pe byddech chi’n fy ngweld i, fyddech chi ddim yn meddwl bod gen i anabledd (rwy’n dal i aros i rywun ddod i weiddi arnaf mewn maes parcio na ddylwn i fod yn deilwng i gael bathodyn glas), yn bennaf oherwydd fy mod i’n gallu cerdded.

Mae seicoleg yn hanfodol i mi, yn enwedig gan fy mod yn dod yn fy mlaen mor gyflym yn fy nghamp. Y llynedd, roeddwn i’n drist drwy’r amser, yn fwy trist nag arfer, oherwydd doedd gen i ddim chwaraeon yn fy mywyd, ac yn teimlo bod gen i ddim byd i’w wneud, dim uchelgais, ac yn y bôn, dim bywyd. Roedd y tristwch hwn yn gwneud imi fyw yn fy mhen yn ormodol a gor-ddadansoddi pob manylyn fyddwn i’n ei gael. Wrth lwc, llwyddais i roi trefn ar fy hun cyn imi droi yn gadach llestri am weddill fy oes!

Mae fy nghwrs seicoleg wedi fy helpu i mewn sawl ffordd. Un o’r pethau pwysicaf rydw i wedi ei ddysgu yw sut mae eich gwrthwynebwyr yn mynd i ymateb mewn gêm; beth mae eu hosgo, eu hedrychiad, eu safiad, eu symudiad a’u patrwm o chwarae yn ei ddweud wrthyf. Ond mae un peth sydd hyd yn oed yn bwysicach na’r rheiny; fy seicoleg fy hun. Yr elfen fawr yw fi fy hun yn byw y tu mewn i’m pen ar y cwrt oherwydd, wrth gwrs, mewn gêm senglau, dim ond chi a’ch gwrthwynebydd sydd yno. Rwy’n gwybod nawr os oes rhywbeth yn mynd o le ar y cwrt bod angen i mi newid pethau yn y fan a’r lle, ac yna, mae angen meddwl beth all fynd o le a pham.

Enghraifft wych yw’r gystadleuaeth ddiwethaf yr oeddwn i’n cystadlu ynddi, sef y Wheelchair Tennis Nationals cyn y Nadolig 2017. Collais y gêm gyntaf achos ’mod i’n teimlo fel pe bai gen i gartŵn o geiliog deri yn fy mhen. Yn hytrach na chanolbwyntio ar fy ngwrthwynebydd, roeddwn i’n meddwl yn ormodol am yr elfennau yn fy arddull i. Ar ôl imi gael ychydig o amser i feddwl, sylweddolais mai’r rheswm roeddwn i wedi colli’r gêm oedd fod gormod o bobl wedi bod yn gofyn imi beth oedd fy nghynllun ar gyfer y gêm, sut oeddwn i am eu trechu nhw, pa strategaethau oedd gen i, ac ati. Mae gormod o hyn cyn mynd allan i chwarae yn gallu bod yn llethol.

Diogel yw dweud, erbyn imi chwarae’r gêm gysur gyntaf, roeddwn i wedi rhoi’r gorau i’r ceiliog deri, ac wedi dileu popeth o’m meddwl. Canolbwyntiais ar ddim ond chwarae tenis, ac yn sgil hynny, llwyddais i ennill y rownd gysur a churo dwy ferch sy’n cystadlu yn fy erbyn am le yn nhimau Prydain. A dweud y gwir, yn ystod y ddwy gêm honno, doeddwn i ddim yn teimlo bod gen i ymennydd, yr unig beth yn fy mhen oedd pêl denis.

Yn amlwg, dim ond camau bychain ar y daith yw’r rhain, ond mae seicoleg wedi dysgu un peth i mi, mae wedi fy nysgu i stopio a meddwl. Ac os nad oes gennych chi fawr ddim synnwyr cyffredin, fel fi, mae hynny yn rhywbeth pwysig dros ben.

 

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Elite tennis and a degree in Psychology

Fran Smith is a level 4 BSc Psychology student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Here, she tells us about another important part of her life, where she’s training as a wheelchair tennis player and how Psychology has helped.

My name is Fran Smith. I’m 18 years old, and I’m an elite para-athlete in wheelchair tennis. I attended my first wheelchair tennis camp on 05/06/17, and currently I am the number 1 junior female in Great Britain and overall number 38 female junior in the world. Currently I am in my 6th month of playing and within that time I have won the British Open Junior Girls Singles and double gold in singles & doubles at the School Games 2017.

It all sounds pretty impressive, right? It might be, but I didn’t sit in a sports wheelchair with a tennis racket and gain the wonderful ability to play. For 13 years I was a tennis player in the running game. At age 16 I had to quit because my body could not cope and the risk of doing severe damage to my legs was too high. For 6 years I have had a battle with my own body and the NHS. In total, I’ve had 6 physiotherapists (2 of which were specialists), 2 rheumatologists, 1 neurologist, 1 ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist and 1 very scared general practitioner (GP). If you were to see me in person you would not believe I have a disability (I’m still waiting for someone to come yell at me in the car park about how I’m unworthy of a blue badge), mainly because I can walk.

Psychology is crucial to me, especially as I’m progressing so fast within my sport. Last year I was sad all the time, more sad than usual, because I had no sport, what felt like nothing to do, no ambition, and basically no life. This sadness led to me living inside my head too much and anxiously over analyzing every detail I was given. Luckily, I managed to pull myself together before I turned into a bed slug for the rest of my life.

My psychology course has helped me in many ways. The obvious one being of how the opposition is going to react in a game; what their expression tells me, their position, their movement, their pattern of play. But there is one even bigger than that; my own psychology. The big element being me living inside my head on court because of course in singles, it’s you and your opponent. I now know that if something isn’t going right on court I need to change it there and then, by thinking what’s going wrong and why.

A prime example is the latest tournament I competed in which was the Wheelchair Tennis Nationals just before Christmas ’17. I lost my first match because I felt like I had a cartoon road runner in my head.  Instead of focusing on my opponent I was too focused on getting my elements right. After some down time after the match I realized that the reason I lost is because too many people came up to me asking what my plan was for the game, how was I going to beat them, what strategies did I have? All that before a match can be pretty overwhelming. Safe to say that by my first consolation match I had given the road runner a boot and replaced it with nothing. I just played tennis. By just playing tennis I won the consolation overall and beat two women I am in direct competition with for a spot on any GB teams. In all honesty, during those two matches it didn’t even feel like I had a brain, I’m pretty sure it was a tennis ball in my head instead.

Obviously, everything is still baby steps towards my goals but one thing psychology does is makes me stop and think. Which if you lack as much common sense as I do, that is a massive thing.