Sports psychology is the study of how the mind impacts athletic performance. Debates about sports performance rarely discuss an athlete’s state of mind and the impact it has on his ability to perform well. However top athletes know that controlling their internal mental state during competition is critical and that by using insight, methods and proven techniques that the ideal internal mental climate can be sustained during competition which in turn leads to improved athletic performance.
Sports psychology understands both the positive and negative factors that affect athletic performance and helps an athlete gain insight into controlling those emotions, feelings, and thoughts that affect their athletic performance. For example some athletes are supremely calm and focused and capable of performing to the best of their ability even under extreme pressure. On the other hand, others struggle in the same situation and choke under pressure. By working with athletes the sports psychologist helps them understand why they are not performing to their true potential, and then helps them solve the problem. He is often able to do this by building up an athlete’s self-belief system which in turn increases confidence and concentration thereby positively affecting performance.
Sports psychology can help athletes get beyond performance slumps, lack of motivation, or get past mental blocks. It can help them become more resilient, better competitors and mentally tough. Even the best athletes in the world suffer setbacks and coming back strong from that type of challenge is mostly a mental endeavor. Giving an athlete the mental tools and techniques to help them get past performance affecting issues is what makes all the difference.
Sport psychology can offer a mental readiness process for athletes. When one is said to have a “mental edge” over a competitor it is usually due to the consistent use of such mental preparation. Although one player or team may not necessarily be better than the other, the mental edge that they have gained in this way will help them get the better results. This type of specialized insight can also help athletes overcome fear of failure or the stress related to facing an opponent or team that they have lost to in the past. Performance is often limited subconsciously by an athlete’s own limiting self-belief system. By working with athletes and teaching them which sports mental training techniques to practice, athletes can set out to improve their own athletic belief system which in turn leads to better performance.
There are many examples of top professional sports teams that believe in the use of sports psychology. It may not be publicized often, but elite athletes understand the benefits that can be gained by knowing exactly how to achieve and enter into the ideal mental state where peak performance can be found even during the most challenging competitive events. It is a skill that can be learned by anyone – demonstrating just how vital this body of knowledge is for the serious competitor.