Watching sports competition and keeping an eye on Michael Phelps, Serena Williams or Manny Pacquiao makes us wonder what makes these individuals so exceptional and incredible. Are they an enormous kind of being when they were born? They even represent superheroes with such extraordinary powers to beat their opponents with just a blink of an eye. The thought of going to the gym already drains our energy and thinking about jogging or adhering to a strict diet plan is already very challenging and tiring for us. This takes us to search for an answer what keeps them motivated and disciplined. Does it seem easier for them than on how we perceive the difficulties that come with it?
Sports Psychology is a specialization which deals with knowledge, skills, attitude, and behavior to yield optimal performance of athletes. The American Psychological Association defines sports psychology as:
a proficiency that uses psychological knowledge and skills to address optimal performance and well-being of athletes, developmental and social aspects of sports participation, and systemic issues associated with sports settings and organizations.
As we all know, the mind is very powerful. As the old saying goes, “whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve.” This is where sports psychology comes to play. It has different facets focusing on the different aspects of the athlete and how it relates to their best performance. It also involves different categories.
Cognitive and Behavioral Skills Training
“Negative thoughts are just a part of life, but they don’t have to consume you. Instead of trying to ignore those thoughts altogether, try countering them with positive statements.” A licensed clinical psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D. said. This aspect involves the foundation of goal setting by enhancing discipline and focus. It is an accepted dictum that discipline is a key factor in training. A seasoned athlete knows how to plan his day and list his goals to supplement the training. Without discipline and focus, the athlete will just be doing his own thing unsupervised and can lose track in his program. It also emphasizes on boosting the self-confidence and self-esteem. Whatever is the sport, the athlete performs and aims to win. He cannot achieve this if he lacks self-confidence that he can make it to the top.
Sometimes, before plunging into play, the athlete repeatedly tells himself and affirmation that he can make it or he will win this game. The value of sportsmanship and leadership is also tackled in this phase. This is believed to be very important as the athlete gains increased focus, the motivation is also increased. The motivation which should really be initiated by them.
“Counseling is an empowering process in which people take responsibility for and control over their lives.” – Brittany N. Murphy, PHD, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
This involves a one-on-one approach so the sports psychologist will be able to determine the identify the strengths and weaknesses of an athlete. In that way, it is easier for the therapist to address the things that distract the athlete. How much therapy costs vary from one person to the another; fortunately BetterHelp is a good article (https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/can-i-afford-to-see-a-counselor-how-much-does-therapy-cost/) providing tips about this information. Of course, the more time required to work, the price will also increase. This is very useful for athletes who struggle on self-motivation.
Team building is very important especially for sports that require just one person to win the game such as football, basketball, and volleyball. Through activities that show their common goal, the team’s mindset is being unified. In that way, their self-interests are being eliminated, but rather enhances their abilities, capabilities, and effort towards the common goal of the team.
As you can see, all these athletes always have their own team that backs them up aside from their respective coaches. “By building a list of people that you trust, with whom you can talk to in times of need, you allow yourself a strong sense of not being alone,” says David Klow, a licensed therapist. The athlete can be representing one person, but behind each game or performance are many aspects and days of preparation from mind setting, proper diet, and exercise. Athletes depend on their sound mind and body in order to achieve their best shape and optimal performance.