Athletes far and wide are characterized by their passion, drive and desire to outperform others and themselves. They’re constantly focused on improving their technical and physical abilities for their sport. One aspect which can often be overlooked but plays a massive role in their performance is mental training. Developing a mental game plan is crucial to getting the most out of an athlete’s potential. Certain behavioural patterns can be spotted in athletes such as the ability to play at an incredibly high level during practice but lacks an equal result during a match or competition. Or an athletes form has dropped off since picking up an injury, despite having fully recovered physically.
Copious amounts of athletes suffer from mental blocks and barriers and are not really sure why, what or how it’s affecting them. Without probing yourself by asking questions such as “Can I perform at a higher level?”, “Have I reached my potential?”, “What’s the difference between the way I play at training and during a game?”, an athlete will have struggles identifying the problem.
If you feel like you have something holding you back, ask yourself these questions, be honest with yourself. This is just the start of your mental training. Mental training can provide a massive boost in performance.
Each and every athlete aspires to do the best they can possibly do at all times. A constant drive in improving their bodies and skills. Understanding and managing an athlete’s expectations is crucial to the development of their abilities. Every detail has to be worked on and cared for. That includes mental training.
Mental training is needed when an athlete suffers from mental barriers or setbacks that block them from their highest level of performance. Mental training will allow the athlete to constantly perform consistently at the same level, to make decisions quickly and avoid mistakes.
There are a handful of reasons, struggles and challenges an athlete can face throughout their career. These include but are not limited to;
Becoming a better athlete takes a lot of work both inside and outside the sport. Mental challenges and conflicts play a much larger role in the performance of an athlete than many would assume. A sports psychologist can assist athletes with the process of putting these problems at bay and give the athlete a better perspective on their challenges.
Injury hurts athletes not just on a physical and technical level but also on a mental level. The injury itself can be traumatic, causing the athlete to replay the even in his/her mind. The injury causes a range of emotions to be brought out ranging from fear, anger and sadness. When an athlete picks up an injury, the idea and fact of missing out on their sport is extremely troubling. These emotions are natural and there’s nothing wrong with them. Managing them correctly and putting those emotions to proper use is the trick. A sports psychologist can give a lot of insight, advice and comfort during the rehabilitation stage of injury giving the athlete a positive foresight.
Returning to the sport after rehab can be equally as tough. Getting back on track with training and reaching 100% performance takes time. Not only this but the fear of becoming reinjured is a frequent thought. These thoughts are incredibly distracting and naturally has a negative effect on performance. This can result in the athlete avoiding giving 100% and performing with the correct form and this is actually one of the main reasons athletes reinjure themselves. Seeking the correct support in dealing with these challenges will make it a lot easier for the athlete to get back to the performances they’re used to.
Admitting that there are problems and barriers in the way of your performances is difficult. Identifying and acknowledging them is tricky. If you feel like you could be performing better, talk to your coaches, teammates, friends and family to try and identify where your issues lie. Think about the common causes and reasons athletes underperform mentioned above. If you can relate to these or have identified other troubles, it may be a good time for you to seek out professional advice. A sports psychologist is specially trained in helping athletes overcome any mental blocks preventing them from being their best possible self.
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