How Can Sports Psychology Improve Performance?
Within sports, the importance of having a strong mind is becoming increasingly well known. As a result, more athletes and performers are seeking the aid of a sports psychologist.
But how exactly can the field of sport psychology help you increase your performance as an athlete?
There are six key benefits you can expect once you begin working on your mental game. These include: increased confidence, increased focus, greater resilience, less anxiety, increased motivation, and positive self-talk.
Benefits Of Sport Psychology On Athletic Performance
As an athlete, your aim is to continually improve yourself each day. That’s often easy to do on the physical side, but how can you make strides towards improving your mental game?
That’s where a sports psychologist comes into play.
Sport psychology is about identifying your current mental game challenges and working through them. In order to work through them, positive traits are developed and the mind is strengthened. This is what leads to greater success for you on the field or court.
Not only are you overcoming weaknesses that are currently holding you back from performing your best, but you will proactively build the positive mental traits necessary to succeed.
Benefit #1: Increased Confidence
There is no better feeling than having complete trust in yourself and your skills. No matter who you’re playing, you go out there knowing you have what it takes to succeed.
Yet, this kind of self-belief, known as self-confidence, is not always easy to develop. Especially when feelings of doubt creep in.
There are many different factors that work against your confidence, but one thing remains constant no matter what: the importance of proactively building your self-confidence.
Confidence gives you the freedom to allow your hard earned talents to shine. Instead of holding yourself back out of fear of making a mistake, you can perform freely with full confidence.
That is the kind of self-belief you get through working with a sports psychologist.
Benefit #2: Increase Focus
There are a tremendous amount of distractions pulling at your focus as an athlete. Some may be external, but many are internal (such as negative thoughts or worrying about past mistakes).
But where does your performance actually take place? In the present moment. Which means…if you want to perform your best, you have to gain the ability to control your attention.
Focus, just like any other skill, can be developed and strengthened. Certain mental training tools and exercises will be used aimed at increasing your ability to notice when your attention is drifting and pull it back into the present moment.
Benefit #3: Greater Resilience
Sadly, the fate of all athletes and performers is that mistakes will happen. As much as you wish they could be, they simply cannot be avoided.
However, this is also great news! How else can you expect yourself to improve if you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes, and (most importantly) learn from those mistakes?
Now that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to bounce back from failures and turn a negative situation like making a mistake into a positive. Which is why a sports psychologist will help you to look at mistakes a different way and gain the skill of being a resilient player.
Benefit #4: Less Anxiety
The desire to succeed is often accompanied by a frustrating frame of mind: anxiety.
Performance anxiety is present due to a fear and worry about making a mistake. You desperately want to succeed, and therefore your mind begins to try and force the outcome you want before it even happens.
Playing with anxiety does not allow you to perform with the freedom and confidence you need to be at your peak. Your focus will have drifted into the future, and worries will cause you to play timidly.
Through the use of specific sport psychology tools, this anxiety can be overcome and a calm, confident mind can be put in its place.
Benefit #5: Greater Motivation
What is your reason for playing?
Why do you go out and train? Why do you wake up early to go to the weight room? Why do you put up with the agony of defeat?
This is the true motivation behind your playing. Yet, this reason is often not known. And when it remains a mystery, it’s easy to lose sight of your motivation, especially following a mistake or a bad game.
By understanding yourself more, you will unlock the why behind your game and unleash a new level of motivation you have yet to experience.
Benefit #6: Positive Self-Talk
There are very few aspects of your game that are truly within your control.
But one of the key parts of your game you have control over are your thoughts. Now, this may not currently seem to be true, especially if you beat yourself up after a mistake or worry yourself crazy going into a game. However, your thoughts are under your control.
Making use of this control is not always easy. To do so, it’s likely there needs to be an altering of your natural thought patterns. Think of these patterns as your automatic ways of thinking.
A sports psychologist will work with you to change the way you think, making use of more positive and productive self-talk, which will have a direct influence on how you feel going into games.
The mind is a key ingredient to your success as an athlete. Though it can also be a major challenge if it is not working in your favor.
The field of sport psychology helps to turn your mind into an asset rather than a liability.
By working with a sports psychologist, you will overcome the mental game challenges holding you back, and learn valuable mental training tools and exercises to strengthen your mind; leading to greater success for you as an athlete.
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