Mental fitness considered key to victory in sports!

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Mental fitness considered key to victory in sports!

Mental fitness considered key to victory in sports!

Mental fitness considered key to victory in sports!

Psychological training alongside physical training is considered the key to victory for athletes, according to renowned Sports psychologists. Physical fitness is not an only component that makes a good sportsperson. As we are progressing in time, mental fitness has become even more important in training as an athlete.

In today’s day and age, coaches provide a mix of mental as well as physical training. Be it football, basketball, cricket or soccer, training the mind helps to not only play well consistently, but it also increases the enjoyment experienced as well as the odds of winning, as stated by sports psychologists. These make up a winner!

What are the mental skills considered important for athletes?

Athletes are required to train in a set of mental skills. These include maintaining supreme confidence, accurate focus on the target even when surrounded by distractions, sustained motivation in a long season, and will-power to control one’s emotions despite the result.

This aspect reflects theontrolling of emotions that come from negative situations like one’s anger, frustration, anxiety as well as feeling of discouragement during a loss or failure, but more importantly, also emotions that come from positive situations like pride, arrogance, over-confidence on a victory, or on winning consecutively in one season.

What are the ways to cultivate these skills?

Dr. Jim Afremow, PhD, provides some great tips in his research article for effective and consistent mental training. These include a) sports counseling by expert psychologists, b) keeping clear short-term and long-term goals before playing a match, c) visualizing success and playing well on the field before performance, and d) using positive language to motivate oneself during a match, as well as e) a confident and active body language in order to enhance the feeling of success in one’s body and mind.

Another great way to excel is to devise a game plan. It will help to not only train oneself physically, but also to assess one’s performance after every match. Furthermore, a written record post every match, in specifics of what went wrong in a poor performance, and what went right in a peak performance, as well as things like writing down one’s emotions, thoughts, and feelings immediately before, during and after the event can prove to be very helpful.

This kind of a record will help to keep the athlete motivated and confident by constantly referring back to this list. For instance, after a poor performance, looking at the list of positive emotions will help the athlete lift up their spirits and prepare for the next performance so as to feel the way they did after a peak performance. The list becomes a reminder of success during a low moment, and failures during a high moment.

The model of the Nine Mental Skills of successful athletes!

Mental fitness considered key to victory in sports!

Image: Ohio Centre for Sport Psychology

Renowned Sports Psychologist Dr. Jack Lesyk, PhD at the Ohio Center for Sports Psychology mentions the key to victory through a simple tabular model which includes nine skills for athletes to acquire. The skills are explained in levels.

These nine mental skills can be improved with practice and instruction, and are learned to help athletes maintain success in their fields. The skills can be generalized to any sphere of life, as suggested by Dr. Lesyk. These occur during one of the three phases.

Level one includes mental skills required for attaining long-term goals in daily practice for longer periods of times. These include attitude, motivation, commitment and people skills.

Level two includes skills used immediately before a performance or before any performance action. These include mental imagery of winning and positive self-talk.

Level three includes skills used during actual performance. These include managing one’s anxiety, managing one’s emotions and maintaining concentration.

Developing these important skills helps athletes in high-level performance, as well as can be applied to other areas of life (non-sports).

Why is it important to work with a trained professional like a sports psychologist or a counselor?

A large number of these skills can be accomplished by athletes on their own, however the importance of hiring a trained professional like a sports psychologist or counselor has become crucial in today’s day and age. Working with a trained personnel can help to master the mind quickly and efficiently. Further, sustainability of the skills can also be ensured with the help of a professional.

This is because the sports psychologist works collaboratively with athletes to identify the challenges that they face, as well as discuss the best ways to approach these challenges, and support to put the athletes in the optimal mental position to take charge of and accomplish their goals. “The psychologist’s role parallels that of the coach and is just as pivotal in helping athletes achieve their full potential” as mentioned by Dr. Afremow.