Thesis: Psychology in Sports

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Sports Psychology

Athletes can often be seen and heard giving themselves positive affirmations concerning how they are going to perform. This scenario often happen before and even during competitions. The purpose of such murmuring is to prepare the mind and the psyche for the task ahead. The topic of sports psychology has garnered a great deal of attention in recent years. Athletes and trainers alike recognize that being successful in the sports arena involves more than physical strength. It also involves mental strength and stability. The purpose of this discussion is to explore psychology in sports and the impact that the techniques utilized in sports psychology have on athletes and their ability to perform at an optimal level.

Psychology in Sports

Sports Psychology is defined as "a) the study of the psychological and mental factors that influence and are influenced by participation and performance in sport, exercise, and physical activity, and (b) the application of the knowledge gained through this study to everyday settings ("Careers in Sports Psychology")." Gaining such knowledge assist the athlete in overcoming a multitude of problems that may arise during a performance.

The concepts of psychology and sports first developed in the 19th century. According to an article entitled an Overview of Performance-Based Psychology," the first sports psychologist was Norman Triplett who was born in 1861. Tripplett is believed to be the first psychologist to investigate the role of psychology in sports performance. Over the years Triplett's efforts have been expanded upon by others and today this sphere of psychology is well respected and continues to grow.

There are several techniques that can be utilized by athletes as it pertains to mental preparedness. These techniques include thought stopping, mental rehearsal (imagery) self-talk, visuo-motor behavior rehearsal (VMBR) and establishing goals. Thought stopping occurs when athletes are able to stop thoughts and feeling that are associated with anxiety or harm there chances to perform adequately. Mental rehearsal involves the visualizing of a task to be performed without moving. This technique places the athlete in the scenario so that they can imagine a certain outcome before carrying out the task. Self-talk is a techniques that requires that the athlete become fully aware of the their "cognitions and emotions, evaluate them, and then give instruction to motivate themselves to break bad habits and acquire further skill (Hackfort & Schwenkmezger, 1993)." The technique known as visuo-motor behavior rehearsal (VMBR) combine relaxation into the imagining process. This relaxation technique is then used again while the athlete is performing (De Petrillo et al. 2009). Finally the establishing f goals is essential and requires the athlete to hone in on what he/she desires to accomplish. Establishing goals is also beneficial because it assists athletes as it pertain to all of the other techniques that have been mentioned. For instance, it would be difficult for an athlete to have a mental rehearsal of carrying out a task if certain goals have not been established.

One of the primary methods used in sports psychology Is known as Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE), also referred to as mindfulness. Athletes from many different sports use this technique to better their performances. For instance, De Petrillo (2009) reports that MSPE is particularly useful for long-distance runners. The article explains that long-distance running is an activity that can lead to fatigue, performance anxiety, negative thoughts and boredom. In addition the activity is repetitive which can cause the mind to wander and not focus on the techniques that are needed to be successful at the task. The author also explains that long-distance running can causes fatigue and pain, which can result in negative thought processes. This negativity can have a negative impact on speed, motivation and form (Dreyer, 2004; De Petrillo et al. 2009).

MSPE is also associated with the phenomenon known as the zone (De Petrillo et al. 2009)). This zone allows the athlete to perform at an optimal level. In many cases the athlete is able to block out all distractions so that they can accomplish certain athletic goals. According to Kaufman et al. (2009) MPSE is what allows some athletes to enter into this zone. The article also explains that the zone is governed by a certain flow in sport. The article asserts that

"Russell identified characteristics that could promote a state of flow. Among them were elevated confidence, maintaining constructive thoughts, appropriate focus, optimal precompetitive arousal, and high intrinsic motivation. Conversely,

Jackson, Kimiecik, Ford, and Marsh (1998) demonstrated that anxiety and perceived athletic skill deficits can interfere with flow. Their analyses showed that it was the cognitive aspects of anxiety (concentration disruption and worry) that most prevented flow. Another factor that may disturb flow is perfectionism, which can at times undermine sport performance and foster dissatisfaction during

competition (Flett & Hewitt, 2005; Kaufman et al., 2009)."

These findings demonstrate that athletes have the ability to use their minds in a way that causes them to perform in a manner that is efficient and effective. Once athletes understand how to use their minds, they can fully use their physical talents to accomplish established goals. Top athletes throughout the world use MPSE and similar techniques to accomplish the flow that occurs when athletes get into the flow.

Sport Psychology is not only important for athletes that are in excellent physical condition but also for those who are injured. According to Arvinen-Barrow et al. (2010) over the past few decades researchers have been examining the psychological impact that injuries have on athletes. As a result of this research there exist a great deal of information about how to assist athletes during rehabilitation. Assisting athletes while they are recovering is essential because they can be taught how to deal with stress, pain and anxiety. In addition, the proper techniques can assist the injured athlete as it pertains to coping with self-esteem, self loathing and even reluctance as it pertains to returning to the sport after the injury has held. All of these aforementioned issues can be remedied with the assistance of psychological interventions.

"In order to reflect the mind-body approach to recovery process, if at all possible, the care provided should entail the involvement of relevant sport medicine professionals, as well as the use of sport psychologists (Green, 1992). All of the professionals involved in the process should work closely together with the athlete towards a common goal in ensuring the athletes full physical and psychological recovery back to pre-injury level of performance. Having such a multi-disciplinary team working with injured athletes is common practice in professional sports

(Wiese-Bjornstal & Smith, 1999); however unfortunately such is thought to be rarely the case amongst athletes involved in lower levels of participation

(Arvinen-Barrow et al., 2010) ."

This finding illustrates that access to sports psychologist can be limited to elite athletes. One of the major reasons for this is the cost involved with having such an individual available to athletes. In addition elite athletes and the organizations that support them have a more at stake when athletes do not perform well. As such elite athletes are more likely to receive the aforementioned treatments if they are injured.

Overall the research asserts that sports psychology is an important aspect of athletic performance. Athletes need the techniques provided by sports psychology so that they can perform and recover in a way that is consistent with their physical abilities. The aim of sports psychology is to work in congruence with the physical abilities of the athlete to allow the athlete to perform effectively. Sports psychology reiterates the idea that optimal athletic performance cannot be realized if the mind of the athlete is not in the appropriate place.

Conclusion

The purpose of this discussion was to explore psychology in sports and the impact that the techniques utilized in sports psychology have on athletes and their ability to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Psychology in Sports.  (2010, February 16).  Retrieved June 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/psychology-sports/4281837

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"Psychology in Sports."  Essaytown.com.  February 16, 2010.  Accessed June 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/psychology-sports/4281837.