If you are an athlete, then you know the amount of pressure you have to deal with not just before the game but after the game too if you end up on the losing side. You need a strong mindset to tackle these challenges so that the mental pressure doesn’t eat you up.
Now you might be wondering “I don’t think the mindset of a player matters in a game.” Well, it does. You can be physically at your finest form possible by hitting the gym and training every day for long hours but, if your mind is not at the right place during the game then it will affect your performance. This is where sports or performance psychology comes right into place. But what exactly is sports psychology?
What Is Sports Psychology?
Sports psychology refers to the use of psychological knowledge to optimize the performance of an athlete. It studies how psychological factors affect in performance of an athlete and how it can be improved so that the athlete can perform at his level best. (Miller, T.W., Ogilvie, B. and Adams, J., 2000)
Why Does An Athlete Need Sports Psychology?
Sports psychology has various benefits for an athlete. If you ask any sports person about the significance of sports psychology they will tell you that it is an important aspect of sports training. Below are a few reasons why athletes require sports psychology.
- Sports psychology can help an athlete to enter the ‘zone’ very often.
- If an athlete has suffered through an injury sports psychology can help that athlete to recover faster both physically and mentally.
- It helps in increasing the focus so that they aren’t distracted easily.
- It helps the athlete to create a strong mindset to handle defeats, setbacks, and failures.
- It helps athletes to boost their confidence if they have doubts regarding will they perform well or not.
- To develop better game plans and strategies.
- It helps to develop better communication skills in the team.
It’s safe to say that sports psychology is a vital part of sports after looking at all the benefits it provides to an athlete.
Sports Psychology? A Hokum?
“Is it actually real?” yes you might be wondering this just because you haven’t heard of any of your favorite sports people talking about it. Well to answer that, yes, it is very real. Sports psychology has helped a lot of athletes to recover from their bad form and helped them in becoming the best version of themselves on the field. Here are a few athletes who have used sports psychology to better their game.
- Tom Brady.
Tom Brady is a legendary NFL football player. He has won the super bowl five times in his career and also won the super bowl MVP title and even two league MVP’S. He is considered one of the best players in NFL football history. However, his game actually started developing because of the mental coaching he used to take back when he was at the University of Michigan. Brady is a huge believer in the mental aspects of sports, he says, “to me, football is so much about mental toughness.”
- Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo one of the greats in the golfing world has worked with sports psychologist Richard Coop for almost six years now. Their relationship has borne the fruits with 39 professional wins, 30 victories on the European tour, and six major championships.
Nick Faldo has never backed out in highlighting Coops' involvement in the success of his career. Golf is mentally an extreme sport and Coop is all about making sure his athletes don’t face any mental blocks. He says, “I try to help athletes identify and get rid of interference that limits their success. Performance equals potential minus interference.”
- Laura Wilkinson
Diver Laura Wilkinson, during the 2000 Olympics US trial had broken 3 bones in her ankle. She worked with sports psychologists and created a routine involving visualizing a series of complex dives performed flawlessly every time. Consulting a sports psychologist helped her qualify for the 200 Olympics and she even managed to clinch the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics despite having a foot that wasn’t completely healed and sufficient practice. (Reverter Masià, J., Legaz Arrese, A., Munguía Izquierdo, D., Roig Pull, M., Gimeno Marco, F. and Barbany Cairó, J.R., 2008)
Yes, sports psychology is a real thing and has helped a lot of athletes to recover from bad form and even give excellent performances on the field. There are a lot of athletes out there who have even talked about the importance of sports psychology. To quote American football team goalkeeper David James, “of course sports psychologists can help-it’s certainly helped me. People think you must be a cracker if you need a psychologist but psychology is a part of building bricks to make a top athlete.