Nowadays, it seems like sports rule the land. Almost everyone can be considered to be a fan of at least one sport or the other. Some people follow sports like a religion. With such an increased focus on sports, the athlete’s performance is put under microscope. This puts more pressure on athletes to give a winning performance. No longer do athletes play for fun, they play to win. This isn’t just happening on a professional level but at all the levels of sports. From little league to backyard football, the goal is to win at all cost.
One such way, which is now gaining popularity, is Sports Psychology. Though this isn’t a new field, it’s popularity is just beginning to take off. There is still a lot of skepticism about the validity or worth of the practices used.
What is Sports Psychology?
Sports psychology involves preparing the mind of an athlete, just as one prepares the body. Sports psychology is an emerging field in the world of psychology and athletics.
What does a psychologist do?
He provides psychological assessment, crisis intervention and psychological service just to name a few broad areas. All of these are areas that can also be useful to an athlete. A lot of the tools used by a sports psychologist are adapted directly from clinical psychology.
Issues such as motivation, self-efficacy and depression are common in the athletic arena. Athletes can also suffer greatly from anxiety and stress. Any of these conditions can be detrimental to one’s competitive ability.
Techniques such as mental imagery training and relaxation techniques can be used to attack problems in these areas. One research was focused on failure and why athletes believe that they don’t accomplish their goals.
An expert learnt that starting at young age, athletes are told that failure comes from their lack of ability. This is called learned helplessness.
Since athletics seems to be moving from being a pastime to a way of life for many in today’s world, it is important that there are means to improve performance. The corporate world has long been using psychological techniques to improve employee performance. It was only a matter of time before the athletic world adopted the same practices.
Some people are skeptical about the validity of sports psychology, while others live by it. With sports producing hundreds of millions of dollars each year it is important that athletes do everything that they can to improve the way that they play.
Sports psychology is a valid, scientific way for athletes to do just that.