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Why Do Athletes Use Sports Psychology

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Sports Psychology: Mindset Can Make Or Break An Athlete

Sport psychology – inside the mind of champion athletes: Martin Hagger at TEDxPerth

Jul 5, 2018 | Academics, Athletics, Feature Story, News

Often referred to as the Freud of Football, John F. Murray, Ph.D., both a clinical and sports psychologist, describes sports psychology as a new frontier. Psychology is often the difference between good and great athletes. It usually is the deciding factor. Why? Because skill and talent is only one part of the game. Athletes have to be able to focus on the mental side of playing the game, although enhancing an athletes performance is also only a single part of sports psychology.

Sports Psychology and Stress ReductionPlaying sports, particularly on a professional level, comes with a significant amount of mental pressure, and stress has multiple effects on performance, including psychological, emotional, and physical effects. Athletes need to perform well, but theyre often faced with criticism from coaches, family members, media personalities, and more. Critical talk and other stresses of the job can be mentally draining, keeping athletes from performing their best. Sports psychologists work with athletes to combat the stresses that come with playing their sport, teaching important skills like positive self-talk, relaxation, life skills planning, and imagery. They may also provide counseling, treating the overall mental health of the athlete and addressing any mental issues that come up along the way.

Kobe Bryant And Michael Jordan

Both Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan worked with renowned Mindfulness Meditation Coach, George Mumford throughout their careers. Author of The Mindful Athlete, Mumford also worked extensively with Shaquille ONeal and Bulls/Lakers championship coach Phil Jackson. Mumford himself has an amazing recovery story as he suffered from severe addiction and negative self-talk issues early in life which he now affectionately calls stinkin thinkin. In his book, Mumford describes how he overcame everything to become sober for over 31 years. Its pretty hard to argue with his results and methods as the mental health coach of three of the greatest players in NBA history.

Add More Value To Your Mental Training Programs

This workbook series was designed for coaches and mental coaches to use with their athletes.

The Athletes Mental Edge workbooks complement your existing mental training program. Each of the 15 workbooks in the Athletes Mental Edge System teaches your athletes a specific mental skill to improve their performance.

What are customers saying?

I am really pleased with the Athletes Mental Edge workbooks they are fitting in really well with my coaching! I find they offer a great framework for doing workshop sessions. I have also used the workbooks with a few individual athletes for the younger ones . They are giving a good structure and framework to our sessions. The workbooks have worked well with all of them!~Kerri Morgan, Mental Game Coach

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Sport Psychology: How Can It Benefit Sub

There is a big misconception when it comes to who could benefit from sport psychology many believe its only elite athletes, striving to get that extra edge on their opponents, who will use a sport psychologist. But that assumption is well wide of the mark.

While sport psychology is becoming somewhat better known in the sporting world, there is still a lot of stigma around who can benefit from it.

At the sub-elite level of sport , often coaches will try to play both roles but this approach often doesnt get the best out of the athlete. I am a strong believer in sticking with what you are good at. Yes, of course, a good coach can motivate athletes and apply mental skill tools like building confidence and goal setting, as well as dealing with pressure. Many coaches who were previously athletes or who have coached for a long time can share their personal experiences and what theyve learnt from them. This definitely helps the athlete relate to what the coach wants for them when they train/compete.

Therefore, a sport psychologist or mental skills coach can play a crucial role in athlete development.

Michael Phelps And The 2016 Olympics


Michael Phelps is already the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals to his name including 18 gold medals. The 2016 Rio Olympics will be Phelps fifth Olympic Games and, once again, he is using the power of guided imagery to prepare for success.

Bob Bowman has been Phelps coach since he was a teenager and has included mental imagery or visualization as a part of Phelps mental training.

Bowman instructed Phelps to watch a mental videotape of his races every day before he went to sleep and when he woke up in the morning. Phelps would visualize every aspect of swimming a successful race starting from the blocks and culminating in a celebration after the race was won.

Bowman would instruct Phelps to Put in the videotape during training sessions to help motivate Phelps to push harder.

Bowman believes that mental imagery helped Phelps develop the habit of success.

BOWMAN: We figured it was best to concentrate on these tiny moments of success and build them into mental triggers Its more like his habits had taken over. The actual race was just another step in a pattern that started earlier that day and was nothing but victories. Winning became a natural extension.

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Preventative Or Foundational Components

Core foundational components should include mental health literacy to improve understanding, reduce stigma and promote early help-seeking a focus on athlete development and skill acquisition to help attain these goals and mental health screening of, and feedback to, athletes. The purpose of these foundational components is to enhance awareness of the importance of athlete wellbeing across the elite sport ecology. This in turn addresses workplace duty of care and occupational health and safety responsibilities towards athletes overall wellbeing in the context of sport-related stressors.

Mental Health Literacy

Individually Focused Development Programs

Mental Health Screening

How Do Olympic Athletes Stay Focused On The Process

Why do you compete in your sport? What is your ultimate athletic goal?

Herm Edwards, former NFL coach, famously stated, You play to win.

Whether it is to win a tournament, win a race or win a gold medal, most athletes are chasing victories.

In fact, most athletic success is judged in terms of wins and losses.

So how do athletes increase their chances of winning?

Here lies the great dilemma I often talk about how to focus on the process as one of the keys to success.

The process is the steps you need to take in order to succeed which is primarily what you are doing in the moment.

How do elite athletes stay focused on the process instead of the result when the outcome is the primary reason they compete?

Ginny Thrasher, 19, became the first freshman rifle shooter to win both individual NCAA titles and earn a spot at the Rio Olympics in less than a month and she won by focusing on the process.

THRASHER: Whats most attractive in rifle is the mental side of the sport. Anyone can go and hit a 10, its not that hard. To go and shoot 10 after 10 after 10 in a big event is very hard. You have to have a mastery of the mental side, controlling your emotions, following your process and not thinking about the outcome.

The question is what exactly is the process that Thrasher focuses on?

Thrasher is heading into the 2016 Rio Olympics armed with the same proven game plan: focusing strong mentalpreparation for each shot and not worrying about the possible outcomes.

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Our Sport Psychology Service

At QSMC, we have renowned and experienced Sport Psychologists from Mental Notes consulting out of our clinics. One-on-one consultations mean that the focus is completely on you and your goals. Our Psychologists have worked with Olympic athletes, world champions and tour winning professionals. So you know youre in the best hands when it comes to performance coaching, health and well-being or injury rehabilitation.

Why Are Psychological Skills Important For Athletes

Win the Game of Life with Sport Psychology | Jonathan Fader | TEDxRutgers

Is physical practice the only component of your training program? How do you learn to maximize your performance or even to be a consistent performer? Athletes and coaches always think they must only practice longer and harder – they are reluctant to include psychological tools in their training and performance regime.

To be a better athlete does not necessarily mean that you must train harder or longer. It could mean that you need to address all the components that make up a successful athletic performance – mental as well as physical. Since you do not enter into competition with a completely empty head, you must include mental skills in your training and conditioning programmes as well. This will enable you to develope the strategies which will prepare you to enter a competition with the proper mindset

If you are interested in getting the most of your athletic endeavors, you can no longer treat your performance as a combination of isolated factors which come together in some mysterious and unified way on the day of the competition. A long distance athlete would never think to enter a long distance race without spending time physically preparing the body to meet the conditioning demands of a race. Yet, most athletes probably enter a race without determining what psychological skills he or she would need to help achieve the best physical performance. Almost no one prepares and practices the necessary mental conditions.

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Becoming A Sports Psychologist

Becoming a sports psychologist could be an exciting career choice for many psychology students, especially those with a strong interest in sports and physical activity.

The American Psychological Association describes sports psychology as a “hot career,” suggesting that those working in university athletic departments earn around $60,000 to $80,000 per year.

If you are interested in this career, start by learning more about the educational requirements, job duties, salaries, and other considerations about careers in sports psychology.

Why Is Sports Psychology So Important

Competitors are under immense physical and emotional stress. They feel the pressure of coaches and their teams and the pressure they put on themselves. This kind of chronic stress can distract competitors from their goals. And, if left untreated, it can lead to harmful mental and physical health issues.

Sports psychologists take a holistic approach to each client’s health. They consider an individual’s physical abilities alongside their mental roadblocks. They then look for ways to improve mental toughness and athletic performance simultaneously.

Sports psychology benefits the whole person by encompassing both psychology and physical performance.

Some benefits of sports psychology include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • A healthier perspective of self and one’s abilities
  • Improved athletic performance

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Why Is Sport Psychology Important

The importance of sport psychology has been realized for decades, however many coaches and athletes pay too little attention to how it can help them perform better. Many coaches and athletes still overly focus on the physical aspect of sporting performance at the detriment of the non-physical. There is a greater emphasis on proven physical training programs and biomechanical analysis of the equipment and technique. These physical aspects of sport are critical and they become even more valuable when combined with an effective mental training program.

No athlete, no matter how strong or physically gifted can be successful if for example, they let their nerves overtake them and they crumble in the heat and pressure of competition.

Sport Psychology is not just the domain of a sport psychologist and there are many aspects that coaches can become very effective themselves, to the benefit of their athletes and team. This can also have the additional benefit that it is incorporated into a holistic training program and more potent then one-time interventions. Having said that, some issues athletes have to deal with may not be of a sporting nature and are in fact clinical psychology issues. An example would be if an athlete has an eating disorder or other serious psychological challenge. If a coach realizes this, then we strongly advise the coach to seek professional help for their athlete.

The Importance Of Visualization In Sports

SMART EBOOK: Careers In Sports Psychology

Sports visualization is an experience a training experience, a preparation experience and a warm-up experience. Visualization for athletes is a skill that you can improve and benefit from.

Whether you realize it or not, you visualize during sports or mentally rehearse naturally. Everyone thinks in pictures. Some athletes unintentionally have recurring images of missed opportunities, injuries, mistakes and losses.

There is one thing that separates elite athletes from average athletes Elite athletes utilize the power of guided imagery or visualization. Imagery has long been a part of elite sports and many Olympic athletes have mastered the skill with the help of Sport Psychologists and Mental Game Coaches.

Guided visualization or imagery for athletes is consciously controlling the images or directing an athletic script in your head. One example of guided imagery that you having unknowingly used is when your coach was teaching you a new skill. You created an image in your mind of how the skill should look or the successful execution of the skill.

Guided visualization or imagery is purposely rehearsing a skill, routine or performance in your minds eye to program your body for success. However, sports visualization or mental imagery is more than just a visual experience. Many athletes prefer to feel movements and engage in the kinesthetic past of imagery.

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Why Is Sports Psychology Important

Mental health and overall well-being are fundamental to athletic competition and performance.

Seeking the support of a sports psychologist can help athletes achieve their overall goals of performance improvement.

Sports psychologists can help better oneâs attitude, focus, confidence, and mental game, empowering athletes to stay engaged in the sports they love.

How Sport Psychology Helps Athletes

When basketball player Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers credited psychological help for some of his success on the court, some commentators took that as evidence that he was crazy.

To the contrary: Professional athletes like Artest would be crazy not to seek help from professionals like sport psychologists.

While coaches typically focus on the physical side of sport, sport psychologists focus on athletes’ minds. Sport psychologists can help athletesprofessionals and amateurs alikeachieve their goals.

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Risk Factors For Mental Ill

Meta-analytic reviews indicate that elite athletes experience broadly comparable rates of mental ill-health relative to the general population in relation to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and sleep disorders . This should not be unexpected given the considerable overlap in the years of active elite competition and the primary ages of onset for most mental disorders .

Increasing evidence points to a range of both athlete-specific and general risk factors associated with mental ill-health in elite athletes. Athlete-specific risk indicators include sports-related injury and concussion , performance failure , overtraining and sport type . General risk indicators include major negative life events , low social support and impaired sleep . These risk factors may impact the severity and onset of particular mental health symptoms, but can also guide appropriate response strategies.

What Are The Benefits Of Sports Psychology

The unique psychology of extreme endurance athletes â BBC REEL

As someone who works within the field of psychology I am often asked the questions What can sport psychology do for my performance?, What are the benefits?. Within sport, psychology is often seen as a quick fix. Unfortunately sport psychology does not work that way. Often, people assume that sport psychology can only have short term benefits. Coaches and athletes employ sport psychologists to come in and fix a teams problem within the space of 2 to 3 months. However, when the issue is not sorted the sport psychologist is usually the first person to be blamed when things dont go well.

Sport psychology is not just about improving athletic performance. Sport psychology plays a much large role within performance. Sport psychology can be about developing interventions which help to prevent mental health among the athletic population. Sport psychology can be about teaching athletes transferable skills that they can use in not only sport but also in work and family life. Sport psychology can be about helping athletes to manage transitions and deal with issues associated with retirement. Athletes can be particular vulnerable to mental health problems due to the intense pressure associated to elite sport and sport psychologists can help athletes to deal with some of these issues.

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Are There Existing Frameworks Or Models Of Care For Mental Health In Elite Sport

To date there are no published frameworks regarding how best to support the mental health needs of elite athletes. In addition to the IOC Consensus Statement, recent position statements have emphasised the need to build awareness of mental health problems and increase help-seeking behaviours . These initiatives are unquestionably warranted however, improving awareness and help-seeking behaviours are at best pointless, and at worst unsafe, if systems of care to respond to athletes need are not available. A whole of system approach needs to be developed simultaneously.

Detailed Descriptions Of The Nine Mental Skills

1. Attitude

  • Realize that attitude is a choice.
  • Choose an attitude that is predominately positive.
  • View their sport as an opportunity to compete against themselves and learn from their successes and failures.
  • Pursue excellence, not perfection, and realize that they, as well as their coaches, teammates, officials, and others are not perfect.
  • Maintain balance and perspective between their sport and the rest of their lives.
  • Respect their sport, other participants, coaches, officials, and themselves.

2. Motivation

Successful athletes:

  • Are aware of the rewards and benefits that they expect to experience through their sports participation.
  • Are able to persist through difficult tasks and difficult times, even when these rewards and benefits are not immediately forthcoming.
  • Realize that many of the benefits come from their participation, not the outcome.

3. Goals and Commitment

Successful athletes:

  • Set long-term and short-term goals that are realistic, measurable, and time-oriented.
  • Are aware of their current performance levels and are able to develop specific, detailed plans for attaining their goals.
  • Are highly committed to their goals and to carrying out the daily demands of their training programs.

4. People Skills

Successful athletes:

5. Self-Talk

6. Mental Imagery

7. Dealing Effectively with Anxiety

Successful athletes:

8. Dealing Effectively with Emotions

Successful athletes:

9. Concentration

Successful athletes:

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