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  • Writer's pictureJenni Schierman


If you didn’t happen to catch last week’s race in Austria by now you have likely seen video clips shared of the crash that nearly resulted in disaster for more than one rider. I happened to be watching it live and sat mouth wide open, certain I was about to see someone seriously injured, if not far worse.

Thankfully, both Rossi and Vinales were missed by runaway and flying motorcycles, and Morbidelli walked into the ambulance. I will skip showing photos or video here. If you want to find either, feel free to do a quick search and continue reading.


I could tell from watching Rossi’s body language as he pulled back into pit that he was shaken. Understandably so. His face as he sat back in his chair was clearly not the normal Valentino we are used to.

As I watched him, I wondered how he was mentally preparing himself for heading out again. He has been doing this a long time, but that was a close near miss that would have anyone on edge.


How can athletes like Vinales or Rossi experience something like that and then head back out to finish the remaining laps in the race just a short time later?

The answer is something called compartmentalization.

This is something we all do. In fact, you might have even done it today and didn’t realize it.

Psychology defines compartmentalization as a defense or coping mechanism where conflicting thoughts are kept separate into their own compartments so as to be able to better function.

This is generally done for short periods of time and is a way for you to get through stressful or traumatic events.


Have you ever had a really stressful week and when Friday came you told yourself “I’m going to take the weekend to relax and not think about that anymore”? This is an example of compartmentalization. You are putting the unpleasant things on a shelf for the weekend and giving yourself a much-needed break.

Perhaps you have been through a divorce. Sometimes there are family functions or things with the kids before the divorce is final. You show up to the functions, smile in the photos, and do your best to participate. You are compartmentalizing your thoughts and feelings (hopefully) about the end of the relationship.

A loved one dies, and you have to go back to work a few days later. This doesn’t mean you stop being sad the moment you walk into the door at work. You are compartmentalizing while you are at work and dealing with the demands of your job.


Hopefully this explains compartmentalization a bit more for you. We all do it at some point and it is unconscious. In elite athletes it becomes an enhanced skill to be able to focus and shut out distractions that may be going on outside their sport.

If you would like some help improving your mental focus and toughness, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Click here to schedule your free initial call to discuss how we can work together.

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