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Sports psychology

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.

Which common causes and reasons lead to an athlete seeking support from a sports psychologist?

  • You feel like you are performing at a rate below par.
  • An injury picked up earlier is causing a dip in form and ability.
  • It’s difficult for you to maintain a consistent level of play, going in and out of focus during training or matches.
  • You perform to your potential during practice but have differing results during games.
  • You feel a lot of pressure when playing in front of spectators.

Breakthrough to your potential and reach the next level of your game

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;

  • Some of the best athletes out there are always running high on confidence. They believe in their ability. Yet it can sometimes turn around. Confidence in your physical and technical skills plays a big part in performance. If you experience a period low on confidence, then this can translate into poor performances and anxiety.
  • Trusting oneself plays a large role in your sporting performance. An athlete struggling with trust issues can generally be identified when their training performance outplays their competition performances. This is generally characterized by over analysis of the performance and bad or indecisive decision making.
  • With great athletes come great expectations, these great expectations can often be troubling as an athlete puts a tremendous amount of pressure on his/herself. With expectation running high, when it’s not met, it damages the athlete’s confidence. As mentioned before, confidence is a vital part of an athlete’s mental game.
  • Winning is the goal of every athlete, to be the best, but what happens when they lose? More importantly, what happens when they fear failure? This is a common issue that athletes deal with regularly and without the proper care, a fear of failure can lead to rising levels of tension and anxiety. External pressures from fans, friends and family can add to this fear.
  • A common term which everyone has heard is “practice makes perfect”. Many athletes take this very seriously and perfectionism can cause problems in their performance. How can this be a bad thing? The athletes will be highly motivated; however, they won’t be seeing the results they expect. Perfectionism means dwelling on mistakes and over analyzing their performance. Spending too much time thinking about negative thoughts will cause the athlete to put in worse performances.

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.

Rebounding from an injury is very tough

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.

The approach to a better mental game

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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To find out how we can help call today on 1300 668 256