What Does a Sport Psychologist Do for Athletes?
Do you ever wonder what a sports psychologist does to help athletes?
The greatest myth in athletics is that sport psychology is just for crazy athletes, “head cases” and those who choke under pressure, bub misconception keeps many athletes away from reaping the benefits of sport psychology.
Athletes spend vast amounts of time and money focusing on the physical side of sports seeking to improve their techniques and physically preparing their bodies for competition.
Personal coaches are hired to improve the technical and tactical aspects of sport; nutritionists work on how to fuel your body effectively; physical therapists help you rehabilitate injuries; and conditioning coaches attempt to improve your agility, strength, flexibility, and aerobic capacity. All necessary forms of training to reach peak performance in sports.
Still, athletes get stuck in slumps and performance plateaus. Athletes lose confidence. Athletes get frustrated and tank. Athlete choke when it matters the most…
The reason most athletes have difficulty achieving greater performance gains is that they leave the mental game part of performance to chance despite knowing the overwhelming impact of mental factors in sports.
It is sport psychology that is the most effective supplement in sports.
So, the big question is… What do sport psychologists or mental game coaches do for athletes and how can mental training benefit your performance?
What do Mental Game Coaches Do?
The quick answer is that Mental Game Coaches prepare you mentally for the rigors of training and competing through proven, effective, specific and tangible strategies.
A Mental Game Coach or sport psychologist is your personal performance coach who trains your mind to help take your body where you want it to go and accomplish all you can within your sport.
Many athletes seek help from sport psychologists or mental game coaches only when problems arise (such as then they have confidence issues, dealing with the frustration of performance slumps, managing late-game pressure, dealing with high expectations, etc.).
These are valid mental game challenges that may be hindering your or your team’s performance. Overcoming these mental game hurdles could greatly improve your performance and the results you see.
Conversely, there is a whole other realm of sport psychology dedicated to proactively helping athletes gain an edge over the competition, improve consistency or get to the next level within their sport.
The reason Olympic athletes are at the top of the heap in their sport has less to do with their physical talent than the countless number of hours they have dedicated to fine-tuning their mental skills.
The truth is that most Olympic athletes and professional sports teams have a sport psychologist or mental game coach as part of their support staff.
Imagine the success you could achieve if you improved your mental game a mere 5%… Mental Game Coaches can help you break through being “average,” help you overcome limiting beliefs, and help you turn your athletic dreams into a reality.
What Does a Sport Psychologist Help Athletes With?
Setting goals – Many athletes have a general idea of what they want to accomplish in their sport but they drift along with many falling short of their objectives.
Sport psychologists can teach you proven strategies for goal setting, goal planning, developing practice goals, evaluating progress, re-adjusting your plan when necessary and accomplishing your goals.
Enhancing performance – Playing at your peak encompasses several aspects: competing with consistency, effectively performing at key moments during a game, coping with the pressures of competition, practicing purposefully with a specific focus, managing game-time distractions, managing emotions, dealing with anxiety, dealing with bad days, letting go of mistakes and getting into the optimal mental zone to compete your best.
Mental Game Coaches can teach you techniques to help you achieve more of your athletic potential by implementing a psychological skills training program that includes: visualization, relaxation techniques, goal setting, focus control and confidence-building.
Maintaining motivation – Long seasons, performance plateaus, grueling training regimens, lack of a social life can cause athletes to lose sight of their goals and decrease motivation.
Sport psychologists can help you see the big picture, keep your eyes on the prize and provide that little daily incentive that keeps you pushing through obstacles and fighting forward in the direction of your goals.
Enjoy participating in your sport – Sometimes athletes forget why they started playing their sport in the first place. Drudgery often replaces your excitement and you tend to stay in your sport because it is what you have done all your life.
Mental Game Coaches can help you rediscover your passion and enthusiasm for your sport.
Communicating with teammates or coaches – There are two problem areas of communication for athletes: conflict with teammates and being on the same page as your coach.
Conflict within your team can make your athletic experience miserable and create stress that hinders focusing on your performance.
The inability to communicate with your coach (giving and receiving feedback, expressing your needs appropriately and dealing with differing personalities) creates confusion regarding your goals and how to achieve those objectives.
Mental Game Coaches can help you process conflicts with team members, teach viable strategies to deal with your interactions within the team and help you communicate more effectively with your coach to enhance your overall athletic experience.
Recovering from injuries – After an injury, athletes often need help tolerating pain, adhering to their physical therapy regimens, adjusting to being sidelined, losing their role on the team, dealing with frustration and anger over their injury, processing potentially career-ending injuries, fear on re-injury and returning to the field of play.
Sport psychologists or mental game coaches can help you stay positive despite the injury, facilitate in the healing process and help you return to your previous level of play.
There are a host of other areas sport psychology can assist you including but not limited to: preventing burnout; overcoming adversity; managing game-time emotion; handling bad officiating; making quick in-game decisions; playing at a high level against lower ranked opponents; reducing anxiety; calming down after an event; effectively processing and evaluating games; learning technique more quickly… and the list goes on.
Since the mind and body are one entity, sport psychology can help you develop the optimal mindset to get the most out of every training and competitive situation.
Another advantage is that the mental skills you learn from Sport Psychologists and Mental Game Coaches can be applied to a wide range of settings outside of sport (school, relationships, conflict resolution, career goals, and overall life satisfaction).
How to Add Sports Psychology to Your Training
Utilize the expertise from a sport psychology consultant or Mental Game Coach. Just as you added other people to your support or training staff, seeking the mental coaching from a trained professional could put you over the top.
Explore the proven benefits of mental training so you can further grow into your athletic potential.
Just imagine what you could achieve in your sport if you supplement your training with mental training!
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