Sports psychologists study the link between psychology and sports and how it influences athletic performance, physical activity and exercise. Often, they work together with coaches and professional athletes, trying to increase motivation and improve performance. Others look at how sports is a tool to increase overall health and well being. Another field of interest is sports addiction.
What We Do
A sports psychologist may be involved in a variety of different tasks. These include:
- Working with athletes who feel they have a problem in their performance caused by mental instability. For instance, they may become anxious before a competition, causing them to lose focus. Alternatively, they may struggle to control their temper, to communicate with team mates or to motivate themselves. Some may freeze at key moments during a game.
- Working with athletes to increase overall performance by using tools such as self-talk, visualization and relaxation in order to achieve full potential and overcome obstacles.
- Helping athletes cope with the pressure that comes with competition. Pressure is placed on athletes by coaches, parents, themselves, and their fans.
- Helping athletes to recover from an injury. Athletes often struggle to cope with pain, but they also find it very difficult to have to be inactive for a period of time.
- Designing exercises programs that allow athletes to fulfill their goals, so long as these are realistic. These include increasing motivation and addressing various concerns.
- Increasing enjoyment in sports across the board, working not just with professional athletes but also with children and young people, or with population groups who struggle to take part in regular physical exercise. This often also involves increasing self-esteem.
- Working within organizations to use sports-related disciplines, such as mental rehearsing, visualization, relaxation and cognitive restructuring, to increase performance and productivity.
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