Psychology of sport is a relatively young and insufficiently studied discipline in general, but also as a psychological branch. This text deals with the definition of sports psychology, motivation, the role of psychologists in working with athletes, techniques, myths of sports psychology as well as contemporary trends in this field.
Sports psychology is a psychological discipline that deals with the study of psychological aspects of the behavior of all athletes with the aim of describing, explaining, predicting and controlling those behaviors in order to be directed towards achieving personal and sports competence.
Although the psychology of sports sounds like a fashionable term to many, selling the fog of modern times, it is actually very complex and necessary for every serious athlete.
Knowledge of personality psychology, social psychology as well as psychological prevention is required.
It should also be borne in mind that the clients of a sports psychologist do not have to be only athletes, but also coaches, judges and parents.
In order for someone to be a good athlete, it is necessary to fulfill certain preconditions, not only at the beginning of his career, but also to keep that level constant, and that is the most difficult.
It is necessary to be extremely motivated, interested, dedicated, persistent, ambitious, fair, communicative, disciplined and organized – continuously.
This is the most difficult to maintain during periods of decline, and they are inevitable in the career of every athlete. One of the most important tasks of sports psychology is to create and maintain “sportsmanship” and “fair play” in athletes and to help them gain or regain a sense of self-esteem, human value and dignity, because it is the only way to show their value and reach their maximum.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
A big challenge for athletes is to keep both the competitive spirit and team skills. That’s where the sports psychologist jumps in.
Even lay people know that the motivation of an athlete is necessary at every step. Unlike inspiration, motivation is everything that drives us to an activity and that determines its direction, intensity and duration. The causes of our activities can be found in ourselves and then it is intrinsic motivation or we can be primarily driven by external factors and then it is extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic or internal motivation, as the word itself says, is in us and motivates us with our satisfaction with ourselves, our own sports achievement and love for sports in this case. In the case of extrinsic motivation, we find motivation more often in praise and rewards that come from outside.
One recent study conducted on a sample of 400 young athletes shows that about 60% of athletes began to engage in a particular sport of their choice, 22% under the influence of parents, and 7% under the influence of peers, 4% were influenced by physical education teachers and only 1% of athletes entered sports under the influence of sports idols. The support of family and friends is immensely important in every part of the athlete’s development path.
The techniques used in sports psychology are:
• Getting to know yourself and your own limitations
• Development of behavioral strategies before and between competitions
• Psycho-physical relaxation
• Improving concentration
• Self-control of positive thinking
• Self Talk
• Goal setting – goal orientation
Imagination is a type of visual thinking, which is focused on creation and creation in the head itself without the limitations of external reality. An athlete can use imagination to create certain situations and events using all his senses. These situations or events can be focused on training and improving specific skills and motor movements, motivation and the like.
Self-talk on the other hand refers to self-talk. We send ourselves certain messages with the aim of concentration, maintaining focus, then motivation (self-praise) and to practice a certain new skill.
Setting goals is also extremely important!
There are several types of goals: long-term, short-term, and instant goals. Which type they belong to must follow the SMART framework. So, they need to be:
• Precisely defined, clear (specific)
• Measurable, to determine how successfully they are met (measurable)
• Realistic, in relation to the resources we have in the situational environment (r-realistic)
• Time-bound (t-name oriented)
Myths of sports psychology
In order to get better acquainted with the topic of sports psychology, it is necessary to become aware of the myths that are still believed. Myths are:
• Only unsuccessful athletes need the help of a sports psychologist.
• Only the best athletes benefit from a sports psychologist.
• The psychology of sports is selling fog.
• A sports psychologist is needed only by those athletes who have mental disorders.
What is biofeedback?
One of the modern trends in sports psychology is biofeedback.
Biofeedback is actually a technique of learning self-regulation.
It consists of a procedure of displaying and quantifying physiological parameters that enables the establishment of a certain degree of control over the functions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
The main cause of any significant drop in the level of technique and fitness during the match is precisely the desynchronized operation of the ANS.
This method is based on recording and displaying parameters of bodily functions, whose physiological activity is recorded with the help of sensors placed on a person’s body and provides an opportunity for gradual learning of self-regulation and gaining control over physiological processes, which we are not aware of.
Of course there are alternative methods: reiki and bowen.
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