Sport Psychology

This essay has a total of 1703 words and 7 pages.


Sport Psychology





Sport Psychology
In earlier days sports psychology was mostly concerned with developing assessment methods
that would identify those people with the potential to become serious superior athletes.
Today the focus is on psychological training, exercises that strengthen the mental skills
that will help athletic performances on the path to excellence. These skills include
mental imagery and focus training. If an athlete is serious about becoming the best he or
she can possibly be, the most essential ingredient is commitment to practice the right
things. It takes incredible commitment to reach the top: a commitment to rest and train
the body so it can perform under the most demanding conditions and a commitment to train
the mind to focus totally on executing your best performance skills under the most
stressful circumstances. (Tutko,T 1976 pg.5) To excel in a sport is a contest with
yourself, to call upon the natural abilities within you own mind and body. Each person
begins at a different location mentally, physically and with respect to the support we are
given. An athlete quest for personal excellence requires the most of what you have-
whatever that may be.

Mental Imagery
“Your images lead your reality”
One of the best practice fields for peak performance is the mind. Many athletes use mental
imagery for quick rehearsal before an event: A diver, for instance, might perform a double
somersault with a half twist one final time in his mind as he readies himself on the
board. Mental imagery can also help people prepare for possible hazards. A squash player
might run through a difficult back court return in his or her mind to rehearse the various
options that might be necessary in case of a delayed reaction. Psychologists suggest that
people develop an image bank of various scenario’s they can call on to help relax,
to get motivated, or to revisit a finest hour to help build confidence. Visualization is a
common term used to describe guided imagery or the process of forming images in our mind
like pictures or moves, images recreating our best performances, and the way it feels to
perform just the way we want it to. These images can be visual, kinesthetic- how our body
feels, tactile-how it feels to the touch, auditory-how it sounds, even olfactory-what we
smell. Using mind power we can call upon these images over and over, enhancing skill
through repetition rehearsal. The mind and body can become more prepared to actually
perform the skill, and can improve both physical and mental reactions in certain
situations. The developing athletes, who make the fastest progress and who ultimately
become their best, make extensive use of mental imagery. They use it daily, as a means of
directing what will happen in training, and as a way of pre-experiencing their best
competition performances. Mental imagery often starts out simply, as you think though your
goals, your moves, and your desired competitive performances.

Kelly Kryczka, former world champion in synchronized swimming duet discuses the use of on
site imagery. “We did a lot of imagery during training sessions, especially as the
competition approached. When we were doing compulsory figures in practice, a minute before
doing certain ones the coach would say, “Okay, you are going to do a best one. You
are going to do a whole compulsory figure.” So before we went out there and did it,
we would sit on the edge of the pool and image ourselves doing it right on, and feel how
it feels. You image yourself right on, perfectly. Then go out there and do it. Doing a lot
of imagery was the major difference in our preparation last year, not just the duet, but
also the compulsory figures.” The ultimate goal is to draw on all of your sense to
feel yourself executing skills perfectly.

Focusing in Sport
“Where the mind goes, everything follows.”
When an athlete is focused in sport he or she is aware of only those things that are
critical to their performance, to the exclusion of everything else. In a very real sense
an athlete and his or her performance becomes one, and nothing else in the world exists
for that period of time. In individual sports, best performances occur when athletes are
totally connected or riveted to their performance, often to the point of performing on
autopilot and letting their bodies lead, without interference. In team sports best
performances likewise occur when players are totally focused and absorbed in the crucial
aspects of their performance (Barrington, J.1987). They are totally aware of the flow of
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