Scientists have made us understand that our mind is often an untapped resource. There is more that we can achieve only if we are willing to expand our mind, to seek a new way of doings things, learn new things and take risks. These are ways to expand our mind. For athletes, they can be able to improve consistency in training and competition, enhance their performance and minimize or even eliminate undesirable mental states like frustration, anger, and burnout by using a variety of sports psychological skills.
Most athletes understand that their psychological state has great influence on their performance, however only a few of them actively utilize the skills necessary to enhance their performance. Athletes prefer to blame another aspect of the game after a poor race instead of recognizing the psychological factors that affected their performance. Most coaches will tell you that you only need to practice longer and harder to succeed. They are however reluctant to add psychological tools in their training and performance regime.
When is Sports Psychology Needed?
Sports psychology is important both in training and in actual sports. During training, sports psychology will help you to get the confidence you need to face the game. It will also help you to avoid self-doubt during the game and maintain your focus.
Benefits of Sports Psychology
- Mentally Prepare for game
Preparation for the game includes both the physical and mental training. Sports mental training also known as sports psychology is important to help players maintain focus and avoid distractions during a game. Sports psychology can as well help boost a player’s morale to win over an opponent that he considers as more skilled than he is. Some tennis and golf players take sport psychology lessons before every “big game”.
- Lowers Heart Rate
When you are losing during a big game, your brain will release stress hormones and your heart rate will rise in response. Sports psychology consists of visualization practice, breathing practice, imagery, and music which can help to bring a player to a calm state. Tennis players for instance use to listen to the same music they used in practice during changeovers on their iPod to help get them to a calm, controlled state. You need a mental toughness training to be able to respond properly to an increased heart rate during the game. Increased heart rate can increase your fatigue and even affect your motor skills. Sports psychology helps you keep these hormones in control.
- Reduces Stress
A common phenomenon in sports known as “choking” occurs when players lose points to an opponent and begin to make a series of mistakes. When this happens, the player begins to miss easy points he regularly makes in training. Choking is as a result of a player developing fear. Sports psychology can help prepare a player to better deal with fear. Some technique used by sports psychologists to teach players to deal with fear includes pre-shot routines, breathing, music and other triggers. Sports psychology also includes training that helps a player to eliminate negative self-talk or talking down to oneself like “Gosh, I stink!” after a player missed a point.
Other benefits of sports psychology include:
- It helps to instill a healthy belief system in a player
- It helps the player to weed out irrational thoughts
- It helps the player to develop important skills for dealing with setbacks and errors
- It helps athletes who have many doubts to grow confidence
- It helps athletes to focus and deal with distractions
- It helps players to develop game-specific strategies and game plans.
Any athlete or sportsman/woman that wants to succeed in his game certainly needs sports psychology skills. It can be a great advantage to every person who loves competition and winning. The benefits are numerous and can never be over-emphasized. Players who are looking for a way to lift their game can look towards taking some sports psychology lessons.