For many people, playing sports is a fun way to stay fit, and compete with friends and peers. A select few might also make a pretty decent living by playing professional sports. But what makes some strive to play sports, to compete? What makes some push themselves to their limits for nothing more than the satisfaction of winning? How does playing sports affect people mentally and emotionally?
These are just a few of the questions that sport psychologists try to answer. Sports psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on how individuals are affected by playing sports as well as how to improve a person's mindset in order to excel at sports. A sport psychologist understands that individuals who play sports must be healthy in both their bodies and minds in order to succeed. At times, some athletes need help overcoming psychological issues that do not allow them to play to their full potential. Reducing stress and extreme anxiety before events often leads to better performances by athletes.
Sport psychologists often work with several different types of athletes, from amateurs to professionals. Athletes might seek out these professionals on their own, or coaches might seek the help of these types of psychologists when they notice that the athletes under their tutelage seem to be off. According to one study, the majority of Olympic athletes have used several different types of psychological treatments to reduce anxiety before performances.
Athletes aren't the only ones that can benefit from sport psychology, however, although they are the most likely. Some individuals who are in the middle of high stress and highly competitive careers might also benefit from a few counseling sessions with sport psychologists. This can include professionals such as business people, performing artists, and politicians.
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