If you play any sport, chances are you’ll be placed under some kind of physical and psychological pressure. You will feel pressure from your coach as well as your teammates to perform well, and especially pressure that you will apply to yourself. This is why sports psychology is such an important consideration for any sport.
Sports psychology aims to support athletes and sportspeople in maintaining high levels of physical activity by prioritising mental wellbeing. It also examines skills like team work and the regulation of emotions. Its origins can be traced back to the early twentieth centuries when notable athletes such as the baseball player Babe Ruth piqued the interest of scientists who wanted to find out how they were able to perform such impressive feats while playing. While it started by concentrating on physical skill, the field soon expanded to include memory, perception, attention and other cognitive traits.
Sports psychology works on an individual basis. The sportsperson’s individual physical strengths are examined along with any mental roadblocks they may encounter. A sports psychologist will then find appropriate ways of improving their mental strength and athleticism simultaneously. By combatting physical and psychological needs together, sports psychology can lead to results such as reduced anxiety, the acquisition of stress management techniques, a healthier outlook on one’s health and capabilities, an increased drive and motivation and an improvement in physical performance.
Sports psychology involves training in such areas as the setting of goals, visualisation, how to overcome pressure and anxiety and rehabilitation from injuries sustained while playing. It will also cover how to improve one’s attention and focus and how to avoid distractions, how to develop interpersonal relationships with teammates and how and when to rest in order to maintain their level of fitness and commitment whilst taking care not to burn themselves out.
Sports psychology intends to maintain an athlete’s peak performance whilst catering for their mental and physical wellbeing. To neglect the latter is to risk seeing a successful career end prematurely. Furthermore, when you are a successful sportsperson, you are a potential role model to those who watch you and if you are seen to take care of both your physical and mental prowess, it sets an example for others to follow. This is why sports psychology can never be overestimated.
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