What Do Sports Psychologists Do?
The main job of a sports psychologist is to help an athlete or a performer. They will work with them to help overcome challenges and build strengths with the aim of not only increasing performance, but maintaining a healthy mind in the process.
It’s widely known that the mind plays a large role in the success of an athlete. This has led to a large number of athletes accepting the fact that working on their minds is not only beneficial, but necessary.
That’s where a sports psychologist comes into play. Working with the athlete to be sure that the mind, which plays such a large role in sports, is an asset rather than a liability.
As we dig deeper, there are five key areas a mental coach will work on that will benefit you.
The Role of a Sports Psychologist
When it comes to the work performed by a sports psychologist, it’s going to be highly personalized.
The field of mental performance coaching, which is what they work in, along with other professionals such as mental game coaches, must be tailored to each individual athlete.
The reason being; each athlete is different and the challenges they present are unique.
However, there are five key areas we can identify that will be worked on which will prove helpful to you and your game.
Area #1: Works to Increase Confidence
No matter what sport you play or what level you’re at, confidence is needed.
In addition, confidence is one of those traits that can and must be continually developed. And yes…it can be developed.
A lot of times we get caught in the trap of thinking that confidence is an inborn trait. Something you either have or don’t. That’s simply not the case. Any athlete, no matter how confident they currently are, can benefit from strengthening this mental characteristic.
Area #2: Helps Manage Nerves & Anxiety
Athletes and performers want to do well. This desire to succeed often welcomes feelings of nerves and anxiety. While some nervousness is good, when it grows into full blown anxiety this can wreak havoc on your performance.
A calm mind is a focused mind. By learning how to manage your anxiety going into a performance, you will be more focused, confident, and free to perform your best.
Through mental training tools taught by a sports psychologist you will be able to gain such control over your anxiety and calm yourself going into a performance.
Area #3: Helps Manage Competition Pressure
The pressure to compete is interesting because it comes in many forms.
For one, you have the pressure to be a great player. These include the expectations you place on yourself and those you feel from other people (such as your parents).
Then we have the pressure you feel within a specific game. This is known as situational pressure. Think stepping up to the free throw line with ten seconds left on the clock and your team is down by one point.
But no matter what type of pressure you feel, the fact remains the same; it originates within your mind.
Through the use of mental skills, you will learn how to manage expectations and pressure.
Area #4: Helps You Manage Mistakes & Failure
If you’re an athlete, you’re going to fail. It’s as simple as that. In fact, you have to fail in order to succeed. There is no way to grow if you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes.
However, if those mistakes eat you up from the inside, causing you to get angry and lose control…you won’t actually improve.
A sports psychologist will show you how to properly look at mistakes and failures. That way, they don’t tear you down, and you can use these setbacks as opportunities to grow as a player.
Area #5: Help You Find Enjoyment
If you enjoy yourself, you’ll be a better athlete.
This means enjoying yourself during competition and enjoying yourself during training. Though, this is not always easy. Especially the higher you go up in levels and the more pressure you feel.
In addition to pressure, anxiety, fear of failure, perfectionism, and many other mental game challenges will work against your ability to love the game.
With a sports psychologist, you will learn how to approach the game from a point of joy. Once more feeling the love for the game that is so easily lost as the expectations to succeed grow ever heavier.
Having a strong and healthy mind is a valuable asset to any athlete. But with all the stressors and pressures to succeed, it can often be difficult to maintain a proper mindset.
Which is why working on your mental game is key.
Not only do you need to spend many hours training your body, but you also need to be putting time towards the cultivation of mental skills.
By working with a sports psychologist, you will have the opportunity to gain such skills. If you’re interested in getting started with mental performance coaching, click here. Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.
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