Sport psychology as the names suggests is linked to sport. More specifically it involves preparing the mind of an sportsman/sportswoman so he/she can face the day fully prepared. Sport psychology is an is taken very seriously by psychologists and likewise athletics. Many well known starts such as David Beckham, Tiger woods, etc appreciate that successful and effecticeve performances in their respective games doesn’t simply boil down to superior physical performance.
They appreciate that good performance is a combination of mental strengh and psychological strength. Good preparation involves goal setting, motivation, , imagery and visualisation, etc.It is important for Sports psychologists to have a background from which they can analyse their athletes, and so they will be constantly researching personality to see differences in other situations which they can apply to their athletes, all the extra knowledge they have on the subject is helpful to them, and also to keep updating on new scenarios which have taken place with other sports psychologists. Sports psychologists need to have up-to-date knowledge of personality, as each athlete is different and may require information that you don’t have to solve the problem.Attention control and concentration:This point is all about the sports performer learning how to have control and concentration during a sporting activity by being able to watch and learn from their coach and then being able to re-enact the way to in which the coach would react to a certain situation during their game playing.
The coach will play a big part in how their athlete or sports performer will learn the correct ways to react in certain situations. The reason being for this are that the learner (being the sports performer) will always look to their coach for help and advice as they know that the coach has been there and done it before, so in turn wants to listen and learn to become a better performer.The coach is seen as the person who can help the sports performer to improve, as they know how the correct way to go about it should be performed. The first step that the coach needs to apply is discipline. Without this the coach has no control over his performer and knows that the performer will not want to listen so will then be unable to learn. The way to earn this attention from his performer he needs to have respect as a coach by proving his ability within other athletes and to be harsh but fair with his up and coming performers.
During the performance the athlete will use what the coach has said to him and by being able to control his thoughts and what he should do in certain situations and being able to concentrate on what he is doing he will come out during the activity with results.Imagery and visualisation:This needs to be used by every sports performer. If you are unable to imagine yourself or be able to visualise yourself either performing well or completing a task in that area of your sport then it is inevitable that you will fail and not make it the way you want. An example of this would be in basketball when having 2 free throw line shots. If you look at the basket and believe that your going to miss the shot then the chances are that the pressure is on you more because you make it that way and you will not only miss the first shot but possibly the second one as well, missing a golden chance to take advantage in the game or even win the game.
The normal way that players or athletes are able to visualise and use images of how they are going to perform during the sport come from the words of the coach. This is the main reason for the pre-match or pep talk from the manager/coach. He use’s this time to tell his players what he expects of them and to tell them how they should be playing their game. This gives the players the sense of being able to visualise how they will perform within the game.
For example how they will use the counter attack to their advantage or how they will jump to obtain a re-bound off the backboard.By using the words that they have been told about how to play their game by their coach either in the pre-match talk or during a time out talk, the players will always when playing be able to visualise how they are going to dribble to ball without being tackled or how they are going to defend their basket from the opponents forwards. Gymnasts use the same method. Before they try to attempt a difficult twist or a high vault they will take a step back and use visualisation to see how they will carry out the task set ahead of them.
The way in which athletes will use imagery and visualisation after a performance will be by being able to look back at what they have done, i.e. how well or how badly they performed and be able to visualise how they can improve what they done for the next time to give them a better chance of winning. Being able to see what you did wrong and visualise how you can improve is the first step in getting closer to your goal of becoming a better performer. By visualising how you performed you are able to know how to improve and what you have to work towards instead of worrying bout the fact you did not win so are a failure. This sets your mind at rest and relaxes the body for the next time.
Personal performance routines:Individual athletes will have his or her own way of relaxing themselves before a performance. Most will have a certain routine that they will follow in order to get them in the correct frame of mind before commencing in their sport. This can be done in many ways some athletes like to wear the same items of clothing for every performance or some might even have a set routine that they stick to for example putting on clothes in a certain order or having a certain warm up routine.Another example could be that some athletes might find doing yoga will relax them mentally and physically before taking part in their sport.During the game the player could have certain performance routines for example on corners standing in certain places if they find it has a better chance of them scoring as they have been successful there before.
Or for example in gymnastics taking a certain amount of steps before each twist and turn.By athletes having certain routines during a performance they find will work in helping them to perform better or to achieve a higher level of playing ability, it is found that they will continue to use these techniques as long as they continue to work for the athlete in question. This is why before a big match game the opponents will study the team they are playing and the movements of certain players in an effort to try and pick out where they are most likely to strike and to stop them.After the game has finished certain performers will finish the game in a certain way.
For example David Beckham of Real Madrid after every home game will walk around the ground and applaud to fans as a sign of appreciation or maybe a sign of superstition that needs to be continued in order to continue his success at his club. Other players might kiss the pitch as they run out and use the sign of the cross as a symbol of good luck.Other personal performance routines can be included after the game in the changing room, or when talking to people or even how they train on the training ground or how they train in the gym. But overall personal performance routines are different and vary between professional and amateur athletes.
Meditation and progressive muscular relaxation (PMR):This is another top way in which athletes are able to relax themselves mentally and physically before taking part in activity, during activity and after activity.Meditation can help the athletes relax themselves mentally putting their mind at rest and ease so that they can feel comfortable and have peace of mind before they take part in their sport. This is normally done in a group in which they all will follow one person. This person will lead off into a trance of relaxation. This is done normally with the use of soft music, within a warm room and with sweet smelling essences to help clear airways and give a nice smell to the atmosphere.
PMR, better known as progressive muscular relaxation is the process of relaxing the muscles in stages. This can be done through methods such as body massage before games, stretching the muscles out to make sure they don’t become tight during match situations and also the use of warm baths and warm climates can also help to relax the muscles in a progressive manor.During performance players cannot really use meditation to the extent that they might do either in the changing room before the game or in a room at home the night before, but they will be able to slow down the pace of the game and how they perform. An example of this could be in football when stepping up to take a penalty. If a player knows he is the penalty taker and a penalty has been awarded while others are celebrating it or contesting the decision he will relax his mind and focus on something other than the fact he is a bout to take a penalty. This puts him in the frame of mind that says he can score the penalty and it could help to lessen the pressure he feels upon himself during the time that the penalty is being taken.
During performance progressive muscular relaxation will always continue during the sports performers event. At the start the muscles will always be relaxed and ready to perform, then once the performance begins the muscles are contracted and working, but also during periods of the performance that the muscles are not being used as much as needed they are relaxing themselves to get ready for the next time they are needed for a quick burst of power or energy. Towards the end of a performance the muscles have been used to their maximum so they are continuously warming down and relaxing in case they are needed to work at full potential once again.After the performance from the athlete in whatever sport they are doing they can sometimes use meditation to calm down their mind and body to get themselves back into a quiet and stable state of mind. Some players after an event of performance might take a step back and think about what happened or sit down and calm themselves down using certain meditation techniques to help relive him or herself of any stress or anger.
After a performance that has taken its strain on an athletes muscles although the muscles will normally go into a state of relaxation before the end of the performance more relaxation techniques are needed to be used in order to make sure that the muscles do not become fatigued or strained. Ways that this is done is by having a cool down after the performance has finished. This cools the muscles down slowly and stop cramps and muscle strains. Also after a hard performance once the athlete has cooled down completely a massage can be used to help relax the muscles even more and in a quicker time.Now we move onto issues about how jeering and chanting can change the anxiety, stress and arousal effects that occur on the person.
When a player puts pressure upon himself their heart rate will increase more due to the larger amount of pressure they are putting upon themselves. Also when the ball is not going into the basket the player becomes stressful and up tight making the muscles tight and not concentrating on the shots that they are taking. When there are people jeering and heckling the player who is taking shots it puts even more pressure upon them to score. This means that the player is feeling more anxiety and stress to score.
If they player miss’s then not only does he have the anger of himself for missing to worry about he also has to face the laughs and jeers from the crowds around him,Also more pressure is put upon a player when there are people watching him or her. This is because is top flight sport this athletes are seen as being among the best in their sport around the world so to miss a shot that would be normally in training be easy adds to the stress and anxiety that these athletes feel. They also have to put up with the disappointment not only on their part but also of the millions of fans that follow them around the world, this all adds to the pressure on the player when taking a shot.Although most people perform worse under pressure some players can play a lot better under pressure as this could be how their style of playing. Sporting examples of this can be seen in football. Matthew Le Tisse took 43 professional penalty kicks for his club Southampton and only missed one of them.
Whereas other players may not be able to build off the same pressure. Le Tisse was Southampton’s best player so he had lots more pressure upon him to perform well at all times whereas other clubs that have many world class players don’t really need to rely on one player so there is still pressure upon the penalty taker to score the penalty but because he knows there are other world class players around him that could make up for the mistake later on in the game he might have a more relaxed attitude towards the penalty and miss it.The reasons that some people perform better under pressure are that they get a buzz from the pressure. The best feeling is having lots of people jeering and trying to put you off your shot and you making the shot which disappoints many and also causes joy to many will give a high adrenaline rush to the person and make them perform better and get used to performing under pressure. For example when playing tennis and in the Wimbledon final you are serving to stay in the game the pressure is on you more to make your first serve good enough so that it aces or the other player cannot return the ball well.
And when you make the serves and win the game to stay in the game it gives the player a massive boost while under pressure also causing arousal effects such as happiness and joys making them play better under the pressure as they know they are on top of the game.The opposite arousal effect can happen as well. A player could be looking at being on top of his game and on his way to victory when he makes a bad mistake, he becomes angry at himself because of this causing a negative arousal effect and the opponent can see this and take the chance to go on and win the game. As the opponent becomes to get on top of his game the other player continues to have negative effects and looses the game. This can be seen in our table above, although Alex scored the same amount of baskets he did completely miss the basket once and myself scored fewer baskets and hit the rim more often. The effect of going down hill happens when a player starts off well and then makes a few bad shots and not only does it effect him mentally but also physically on his performance.
There are those that can perform well under pressure and there are those who cannot perform as well as normal when placed in a pressurized situation. Things that change during the addition of pressure to the situation are anxiety, stress factors and arousal effects, some being positive and others being negative.Goal settingGoal setting is a highly important tool used in sport and exercise and is a current topic in sport psychology literature. Research has confirmed that almost all athletes set goals as an effective performance enhancing strategy (Burton, Weinberg, Yukelson ; Weigand, 1998).
Goal setting has also been shown to promote positive changes in important psychological states. In order to discuss goal setting, a definition of a goal must be determined. Locke, Shaw, Sarri ; Latham (1981) define a goal as attaining a specific standard of proficiency on a task, usually within a specified time limit. A goal offers a focal point, allowing athletes to target their time and effort into the most useful activities. Setting goals works as they enhance self confidence, direct attention, increase effort, encourage persistence in the face of failure and goal setting can allow new problem solving strategies to be developed (Locke, 1968). Although goals can be useful, the key to effective goal setting is setting the right kind of goals and sticking to them until they are accomplished.
They are two main types of goals; subjective and objective. Subjective goals are general statements, such as “I want to do well”. They are not stated in specific measurable terms like objective goals. Locke ; Latham (1985) stated that specific goals were more effective than subjective goals.This is due to the fact that subjective goals are vague and an individual may not know exactly what they are trying to achieve.
Specific objective goals let the individual know precisely what they are trying to accomplish. Objective goals can take three different forms. These are outcome, performance and process goals. Outcome goals usually concentrate on an end result, such as coming first in a race. Individuals have little control over outcome goals as it depends on the ability and performance of an opponent. Athletes have more control over performance goals as they encourage improvement relative to past performances, rather than performances of others.
Process goals focus on the procedures an athlete completes during a routine in order to do well. A study by Kingston ; Hardy (1997) reported that self efficacy, cognitive anxiety and confidence are positively influenced by process goals. An important step when setting goals is knowing when to concentrate on what type of goal. Setting outcome goals away from competition can help short term motivation; if set during competition they can lead to negative thoughts and increased anxiety. Performance and process goals are useful as they can be adjusted as they depend less on an opponent’s behaviour. The main principles of goal setting are: • Set specific goals.
• Set moderately difficult but realistic goals. • Set short-range as well as long-range goals. • Set process ; performance goals as well as outcome goals. • Set goals for practice ; competition. • Set positive goals instead of negative goals. • Identify dates for achieving goals.
• Identify strategies for goal achievement. • Record goals. • Provide goal evaluation. • Provide goal support. • Set group goals.
MotivationMotivation is a key element in sports psychology. Investigation into motivation continues to this day and many theorists persist to propose legitimate theories and explorations. Sage (1974) stated that motivation is ‘The internal mechanisms and external stimuli which arouse and direct our behaviour’. Exploring Sage’s theory further, he believes that motivation concerns inner drives towards a goal as well as an external drive or pressure. He also considers the body’s arousal levels as another significant factor in motivation.
However, Clarke (1999) believes that motivation is the ‘Internal process that creates and maintains the desire to move toward goals’. This theory is stating that motivation is produced inside the body and no external factor factors should affect it.In simple terms, motivation is ‘The drive to strive’. This translates to the individual must have a desire or stimulation to do something, therefore being motivated to do so. The question of how do we get motivated is a question that many theorists may ask and investigate in great detail. Firstly encouragement and praise gives the individual an incentive, also wanting to prove people wrong and being motivated off other people’s energy and enthusiasm are factors concerning this too.
Motivation influences both the mind and body, as well as this; attitude, decision making and performance are all affected by motivation too.When investigating motivation further, it can be broken down into two separate styles, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is a term used for the internal drives to participate or perform well. Such drives or emotional feelings include fun, enjoyment in participating and the satisfaction that can be felt through playing a particular game. PBS (2001) claims that intrinsic motivation is the ‘Internal thoughts or feelings that feed one’s desire to achieve, perform, or become involved in activities or events’. This statement I believe is correct but only to a certain extent as it fails to touch on features such as personal accomplishment and social approval.
.Extrinsic motivation occurs when a person takes part in a activity for the material gain to be received from it- these rewards often come in the form of things such as medals, badges and most importantly nowadays money. An example of a sports person being extrinsically motivated is the former boxer- Chris Eubank. Eubank actually openly admitted that he didn’t actually enjoy boxing and only participated in the sport due to the financial gains and rewards available.
Biddell (1984) suggested that ‘extrinsic motivation is of great benefit at first, but in the long term extrinsic motivation is not enough’ What Biddell is explaining here is that after all the trophies or money has been earned, it is only the desire and passion for the sport that drives the individual to continue participating.No doubt sports psychology will remain at the forefront of everyday life as it can indeed drive you to a successful sporting life.