• Samuele Di Nicola

Esports & Psychology - Youenn Rocaboy

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Youenn Rocaboy, I'm 22 years old and I'm a master 2 student in performance psychology in Dijon (France).

I work in psychological performance monitoring with the players of Crazy Esport Bretagne, DUC Esport and Pishot Esport.

I am also part of the association for French-speaking research and studies on esport, and I play handball with the Dijon Métropole Handball training center. I had a joystick in my hands before I could walk (and I thank my older sisters for that), going from Tetris to Crash Bandicoot, from Pokémon to Dofus, then to Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments to arrive on fps recently.


Tell us a bit about your work in esports. What is your area of expertise and what are you working on now?

I am particularly interested in the effects of controlled breathing, relaxation, and mental imagery on esports performance. The performance variables I am currently investigating are player recovery and their perception of stress in competition or training.

At the same time, for versus fighting players who suffer greatly from the lack of offline competition, I am working on the construction of cognitive skills training interventions. I exchange a lot with researchers, coaches, and game specialists to build a base of tools that allow players to continue to progress despite the lack of tournaments.

Finally, from March, I will start collaborative research work for the CerCa laboratory in Poitiers. The aim of this research is to measure the use of soft skills when playing video games. This study should enable companies (via Skilleo's work) to determine the skills of their employees (collaboration, creativity, problem solving, etc.) thanks to games.


What impact do you aim to have on the team and athletes you work with?

I really try to accompany them in understanding how their bodies and heads work.

The method that I apply in training is based on techniques for optimising potential. This tool, born from a request from the army in 1993, has always aimed to train people to control their stress level according to the demand of the activity. Initially, it was to reduce the number of human errors in the air force's aviation missions. Then its use was adapted for sportsmen and women, then in the business world and among artists.

For players, who have a sustained training rhythm, it is important to provide them with means to focus when going for the hard train or playing competition, but also with means to slow down the rhythm over very short periods, or to improve the quality of sleep. So, we test with them the effects of different breathing rhythms, the effects of positive, motivating, or relaxing images, and the ability to relax in order to better resume afterwards. I base myself on a lot of scientific literature and I exchange a lot with the professionals to propose viable solutions to the players.


Do you think physical activity could benefit esports athletes, from a psychological point of view? How so?

From my point of view, and without basing myself on the very relevant work of Joanne DiFrancisco-Donoghue or all the work that has been done by her companions whom my friend Antoine Dupuy knows much better than I do, it is logical to want to integrate physical practice in the training of players.


Physical activity plays several roles:

- It is a hormonal regulator that will help the player to feel better, to eat better, to sleep better and to think better.

- It is an activity that takes the players out of their comfort zone and rewards effort and surpassing oneself (which are also necessary values in the game)

- It invites the practitioner to experience emotions (the anger of having to do one rounder, the joy of having succeeded, the frustration of not always achieving one's goals...) and it invites the practitioner to experience it in a group, it is therefore a factor of cohesion in the esports teams.

- It avoids health problems linked to sedentary life.


Therefore, from a psychological point of view, sports activity is a vector of emotional well-being, personal and social development. And if that were not enough, it keeps players healthy and enables them to learn faster and think faster.

To conclude, I would like to thank you for your attention and invite people, players or not, to take time for nothing, it's an exercise that may seem easy but it's not!

As I say to my players: "listen and see how good it smells"!

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