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Sport/Performance Psychology

Sport Psychologists help professional and amateur athletes overcome problems, enhance their performance and achieve their goals. While coaches typically focus on the physical side of sport, sport psychologists focus on athletes’ minds. As one moves up the competitive levels, the differences among athletes are not so much physical, but mental. Whoever is able to focus, manage anxiety, and apply mental skills most effectively, usually has strong performances.

Sport psychologist can help athletes with the 7 C’s

Commitment:  Athletes may have issues concerning their motivation,  or general burnout, or staleness .  Goal setting is an example of an intervention within this category.

Control:  Athletes are often control freaks in the sense that they must control their bodies in their sport. They also can enhance performance by managing their anxiety level and controlling their response to pressure situations.

Concentration:  Athletes need to focus and concentrate on what they need to do.  The ability to sustain this focus and, more importantly, refocus after a distraction, is a crucial component of successful performance.

Confidence:  Athletes all describe confidence as being an important component of their performance.  It is having an expectation of success.  

Communication:  Athletes sometimes need help with communication with teammates, coaches, or even with parents and sport psychologists often facilitate this communication; sport psychologists also can help with team cohesion/team building.  Sport psychologists work with many athletes on their “inner communication,” which often involves restructuring the negative self-talk to more helpful and positive self-talk, which in turn is associated with better performance.

Consistency:  Athletes that prepare consistently, generally perform consistently.  Sport psychologists can help athletes develop a pre-competitive routine designed to produce a consistent physical and mental set that is associated with successful performance.

Competence:  Successful athletic performers typically have an identity of being competent athlete regardless of recent performance outcomes.  It can be similar to confidence, but the belief in oneself is a trait and not tied to outcomes.

Sport psychologists also are experienced in working with psychological aspects of injury and the recovery process.  This may involve the sense of loss after being injured and the unknowns/anxiety of recovery or concerns over reinjury.

Sport psychologists can utilize the principles of performance psychology and often work with artistic performers (not just athletes) or anyone dealing with performance concerns.


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