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Sports Psychology

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Elissa Fza

on 15 January 2014

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Transcript of Sports Psychology

Performance States
When athletes feel like they are competing excellent due to the right mental game and a flawless physical performance it is called the Ideal Performance State. When athletes are in this state of performance, they describe that it feels like:
1. an absence of fear and/ or failure;
2. a lack of self-analysis on performance during competition;
3. a very focused mind set, with little or no distraction from the goal of the performance;
4. a powerful feeling of being "in control" in performance;
5. a feeling of no urgency or being rushed by opponents, the clocks, etc.


General Information
-for athletes who want to succeed at any level, physical training is only one component of the preparation they need to attain higher levels of excellence because the psychological (
mental
) aspects of training and competition form a key component of the efforts of the successful athlete
-when many people of the sporting world have referred to advances in athletic training, they have cited progress in the area of sport psychology as being most significant
-coaches and athletes had realized the importance of motivation, goal setting, and relaxation as aids to top-level training and competition before the term sports psychology became popular


Roles and Careers in Sports Psychology
-three main avenues are:
researching
,
teaching
, and
consulting
- avenues are interconnected so sports psychologists often find themselves in all three fields

Audience and Fatigue
While competing athletes don't just have to worry about being able to compete at their best ability but also the audience is watching their every move. The
role of the audience
is beneficial for the many athletes that react positively to large crowds and the encouragement they provide. Where other athletes prefer small settings with few spectators, as with large crowds they may be discouraged or distracted by the noise made by the crowd. Sports Psychologists work with athletes in order for them to control their response to an audience and focus on their performance.
Key Terms in Sports Psychology
Sports Psychology
Teaching
-teach students in universities interested about the subject in courses that cover various aspects of the field. Examples include psychology, kinesiology, and sociology
Research
-attempt to come up with new ideas, concepts, and techniques about its application to sport
-ranges from experiments in a laboratory, to surveys of participants in that sport
-mainly work in universities and publish the results in specialized journals devoted to the field and often can spill over into popular media

Arousal
-is the state in which an athlete feels ready both psychologically and physically to do their best in a competition. The mind-body relationship allows athletes to preform well, but at its worst it can impede physical and mental pathways . That means because this athlete is doing so well that their overexcitement cause them to do poorly. Sports Psychologists work with athletes so they can recognize their arousal levels and learn to control it.
Anxiety
is a general sense of uncertainty for what lies ahead, and a range of mental and physical reactions (sweating, muscular tension, etc.) which can impact an athletes performance. Many coaches will work with their athletes to limit and control anxiety before a competition, in order for the athlete to compete to their highest ability.
-"sports lore" is filled with examples of favoured athletes “choking” during a big competition and supposed “underdogs” who came out of nowhere to win a major event
-the one major factor that separates those who succeed and those who do not is often said to be psychological
-athletes at all levels including those who engage in exercise for improved health and overall fitness benefit from sport psychology
Consulting
-called upon by coaches and athletes to assist in psychological preparation for competition and training
-counsel on matters such as motivation, pre-competition nervousness, visualization, consistency during training, and many more


What is Sports Psychology?
-Sports Psychology-
is the field of study within the context of sports-how people think, feel, and behave in sporting situations, and what mental processes motivate the way they behave in training and competition.
The Mental and Physical Connection
The only reason why sports psychology only has relevance in competitions is because there has to be some sort of connection between the brain and all the working muscles, joints, and limbs. As well as the system that helps us breathe and create energy.

When an athlete is competing, the cerebral cortex in the brain plays a large role. The cerebral cortex is the brains main source of thought.
Example: If you are nervous before a big playoff game - The cerebral cortex generates your mental state, so if you get too nervous it can lead to poor performance.


The reason being that over nervousness leads to poor performance because extra stimulus is being placed on the muscles, which sometimes makes them harder to control. This is called "nervous tension" or "tightening up under pressure". The increased activity can lead to other involuntary muscle and glandular activity (rapid breathing, sweating, nausea , and a general loss of coordination. This can all be controlled, however, using different types of relaxation exercises.
Example: An Australian middle-distance runner Herb Elliot, almost always vomited from pure nervousness before every race. He and his coach came up with some successful methods of coping with his anxiety, unfortunately he ended up retiring in his mid 20's from this problem.
Sports Psychology Video
When people are interviewed about their performance most athletes don't talk about how much effort it took to complete the task. Some studies show that athletes who compete with this mental state reduce activity on the analytical (left ) hemisphere of the brain, therefore these athletes are quieting their mental activity during the game.
Relaxation
refers to the mind-body state, in which the athlete has no feelings of anxiety and is ready to do their best. This plays a large role in athletes who are over-anxious, allowing them to remain calm while competing.
Concentration
is the ability to keep one's focus on the task at hand without being distracted from the changes in the surrounding environment. Athletes who compete at high levels are required to have powerful concentration, so they can compete whether there is a distraction in the crowd (external information) or self doubt (internal information).
Example: a batter in baseball. There are numerous distractions by the pitcher (wrist rotation, arm speed, the angle at which the pitch is coming at them) and the batter has to decide whether or not the pitch is worth swinging at, and then they must make a choice how to swing the bat.
Motivation
-is defined as the direction and intensity of effort. The direction of effort refers to the athlete being attracted to their certain sport situations, such as running on a regular basis or physical training. The intensity of effort refers to the measure of how much energy the athlete is willing to put in, mentally and physically into the sporting event.
Fatigue plays a large role in an athletes performance while competing. It is when feelings or tiredness can cause a decrease in performance. Psychologists can help athletes understand fatigue and how to "push through the pain barrier".



Factors Affecting Performance
Athletes and Sports Psychologists work together in order for the athlete to achieve the highest level of performance they can. The relationship between sport and psychology is often referred to as Psychological Skills Training (PST).

The Factors are:
-Self Talk
-Imagery/Visualization
-Hypnosis
-Relaxation
-Improving Motivation
-Setting Goals
-Developing Concentration
Self Talk
In order for many athletes to get "pumped up" they will converse and encourage themselves to achieve success and that is called self talk. For some athletes most of their personal monologue will be filled with negative thoughts.

Example: "I'll never be able to succeed" or "My competitors are much better than I am"

One of the major jobs a Sports Psychologist does is to teach athletes how to regulate and control their inner thoughts in a positive way in order to reach maximum potential. Sports Psychologists will develop scripts for the athletes to rehearse and memorize prior to a competition to reinforce self-talk.



Imagery/Visualization
"Seeing is believing."
It is often true, if an athlete can see themselves doing well in their sport, it will improve their further chances of winning. But not all athletes necessarily need to watch themselves on a television screen, rather they visualize themselves doing well through imagery and visualization. Imagery and Visualization is the process by which the sport psychologist works with the athlete to help them visualize themselves succeeding and all ways of improving future performance.
For example, Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho employs imagery for game preparation and strategy purposes:

“When I train, one of the things I concentrate on is creating a mental picture of how best deliver the ball to a teammate, preferably leaving him alone in front of the rival goalkeeper. So what I do, always before a game, always, every night and every day, is try and think up things, imagine plays, which no one else will have thought of, and to do so always bearing in mind the particular strength of each team-mate to whom I am passing the ball. When I construct those plays in my mind I take into account whether one team-mate likes to receive the ball at his feet, or ahead of him; if he is good with his head, and how he prefers to head the ball; if he is stronger on his right or his left foot. That is my job. That is what I do. I imagine the game”.

Hypnosis
is a technique that involves a state of intense concentration in which the mind directs the body to perform certain acts while blocking out all external stimuli except the ones that are essential to complete the ultimate goal. The theory behind sports hypnosis is that the relaxation is key to improved sporting performance and athletes may perform better if they are able to relax mentally and focus on the task at hand. Hypnosis may help athletes attain relaxation during practice and competition. Hypnosis may also help to control anxiety and manage stress in athletes. Athletes may develop auto-response to pre-established stimuli which is geared towards achieving optimal performance levels.
The use of hypnosis in sports offers the following potential benefits that may help athletes handle personal challenges that would otherwise negatively affect sporting performance.
-helps to reinforce established sporting goals
-aids athletes to better handle nervousness
-facilitates stress management
-increases concentration
-provides the ability to eliminate distractions
-assists in controlling pain
-increases performance motivation
-improves bodily awareness

Relaxation/Arousal Regulation
-nervousness and anxiety are accompanied by changes in a range of autonomic nervous functions including changes in heart rate, breathing patterns, muscle tension, blood pressure, and body temperature
-sports psychologists have looked for ways to control reactions to anxiety by enforcing a state of relaxation over the
mind
and
body
which will lead to enhanced performance
-many athletes require relaxation and focus prior to competition as opposed to motivational speeches
-a range of activities that can be done prior to and during competition are: breathing control exercises, progressive relaxation exercises (which teach athletes to relax specific muscle groups in a virtually unconscious way), meditation, and imagery
-for over-aroused athletes to relax a technique used to calm them is ask them to recall previous successful performances in which they remained in control and able to deal with the pressure they felt to succeed
-for athletes who lack arousal (the ones who complain they cannot get psyched before competition) psychologists suggest imagining themselves competing aggressively with loud cheers from fans and/or friends, listening to music, forms of physical activity, or reviewing one’s goals.

Improving Motivation
-some degree of motivation is needed for anyone competing at any level otherwise no one would be at the starting line or at practice sessions
-motivation comes from many sources including a desire to gain the recognition of peers, a wish to please one’s parents, or a willingness to set a goal and achieve it
Four basic Principles around which motivation can revolve:
1.Personal traits vs. the environment
2.Multiple motives
3.Staying motivated
4.Leadership

Personal Traits vs. the Environment
-people who attempt to motivate others are often careless in the way they assess others leading to the belief that lack of motivation is the result of instinctive behaviour.
-statements such as “She doesn’t have the discipline to improve” or “he’s lacking motivation” tend to produce the feeling that a failure to become motivated to achieve a certain goal is a result of a personal shortcoming
-the environment or background of an athlete often has much to do with motivation as any inborn traits
-coaches often fail to consider whether their own influence as part of an athletes environment has anything to do with the athlete’s lack of motivation

Multiple Motives
-rare that a single factor is responsible for the motivation of an athlete ex. an athlete may say they are training to win an
Olympic gold medal but there are underlying reasons which are much more complex
- built into the Olympic athlete’s rationale for spending almost every waking moment training and competing could be related factors such as financial gain, a desire for fame/recognition, desire to please family and coaches, or the wish to leave a legacy behind in their sport
-sports psychologists say that it is crucial for a coach and athlete to be clear on the
motives
of the athlete for participating in the sport
-vital that both athlete and coach understand that motivating can change over time- what may motivate at a young age can become very different from what keeps them competing in the later stages of life
-issue of multiple motives for coaches becomes more complex when dealing with several athletes because personal
motivation goals have to be considered as part of larger
team goals

Staying Motivated
-one of the biggest obstacles is when staleness sets in which is a feeling of
boredom
and general burnout that accompanies training programs which have regular intense exercise. After weeks, months, or years of the “same old thing” in their training bores athletes at any level.
-changing factors in the environment of an athlete such as occasional change of venue, new sessions designed more for fun, or development of social activities related to the sport can keep them interested.

Leadership
-coaches have the ability to motivate athletes
-some coaches are able to bring about great loyalty because they are excellent motivators and are able to get the most from their teams or individual athletes due to their personal style

Setting Goals
-strongly implied in any discussion of motivation
-as we have seen many sports related goals spill over into
areas related to other areas of psychology such as relationships with family and friends and self esteem.
-athletes need to have a clear idea of what they want to achieve before they can build up the motivation to achieve it
-there are different types of goals that athletes can strive for:
1.
objective
goals-such as breaking a certain time barrier
2. subjective goals-outcomes that are harder to quantify ex. “I want to become a better player this year”
-extrinsic motivational factors-refers to material rewards such as medals, trophies, and money that participants can strive for
-intrinsic motivational factors-self oriented such as a desire to master
a skill, the love of competition, or a focus on having fun
-basic framework for establishing goals is known as S.M.A.R.T.
principle:-
S
pecific-able to be precisely defined
-
M
easurable-able to be quantified
-
A
ttainable-within an athlete’s limitations
-
R
ealistic-attainable within constraints
-
T
imely-achievable with a set time frame

Developing Concentration
-must be able to maintain focus in the presence of

distractions
-known as maintaining one’s focus or developing selective
attention
-one of the worst things to be said of any athlete is that they “choked”- under a pressure filled situation the athlete failed to achieve a desired result when they were expected to succeed. All areas of sport see such events unfold and they can be interpreted as failures to maintain focus for long enough from the standpoint of concentration or to work harder to achieve success
-techniques for improving concentration include positive self-talk and exercises in which distractions are duplicated in a practice setting to teach athletes to better cope with them when they become involved in competitive settings. For example in basketball when a player attempts free throws the opposing teams fans may be behind the net trying to
distract the player. Coaches will attempt to simulate this in practice
by having trainers and other players cheering and waving signs
in order to train the player’s mind to concentrate on the free
throws


-another technique is the use of cue words. For example when a speed skater starts to become fatigued during a race their strides may get choppy so they repeat the word smooth to themselves in order to keep a desired pattern under the pressure
Quest for Excellence
-many different definitions for excellence depending on the athlete
- for some it is defined in terms of attaining a personal goal, for others it is winning a competition or award and for some it may be achieving consistency in training
-Terry Orlick (a Canadian author) developed a concept known as the wheel of excellence that suggests seven key elements of excellence: COMMITMENT, FOCUSED CONNECTION, CONFIDENCE, POSITIVE IMAGES, MENTAL READINESS, DISTRACTION CONTROL, and ONGOING LEARNING
-first three concepts-commitment, confidence, and focused connection- lie at the centre with the four others revolving around them

Sports Psychology in Children
-sport psychology can have a significant impact on the
youth's approach to sport from a physical, social, and mental
perspective
-importance is underscored because kids tend to drop out of organized
sports as they reach their late teens, which leaves the ranks of many sports full of only elite young athletes
-young people who perceive themselves as athletes and have a positive perception of their abilities in sports are more likely to continue to participate
-some kids enrol in organized sports early because of their own interest or are encouraged by their parents
-many young people drop out because they develop other interests, they want to do what their peers are doing, and others due to poor coaching (which can include over-emphasis on winning or lack of encouragement for struggling players)
-children respond well to praise and encouragement, they must enjoy the
activity especially at the early levels in order to develop skills and
confidence
-do not centre the activity strictly on winning or losing
-children benefit from
participation
in games in practices
because if they are sitting on the bench or standing
and waiting for a drill to finish they become
bored and distracted
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