Term Paper: Sport Psychology Most Forms of Games Require

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Sport Psychology

Most forms of games require not only physical skills but also a very strong mental capacity and these include golf, tennis and skating. According to the view of most coaches, sports are 90% mental and 10% physical. This is very important in athletics where even a difference of a hundredth or a tenth of a second can be the difference between champions and ordinary athletes. The requirement of an extra edge is very important. Thus many psychological techniques are being used by athletes to take them up to the next level. There are uses of imagery in solving different problems in sports is in mental practice of particular performing skills, enhancing confidence and encouraging positive thinking, solving problems, having control over arousal and anxiety, review and analysis of performance, preparing for performance and maintaining mental clarity even after the athlete has been injured. (The Effects of Mental Imagery on Athletic Performance)

The origin of Sport Psychology was with Singer in 1978 when he defined it as "the science of psychology as applied to sport." (Using the weapons of Sports Psychology in Athletics) Sport psychologists provide two major services - performance enhancement strategies and counseling for several issues that affect sportsmen. Even today, all performing athletes have direct access to qualified sport psychologists, but they may be able to learn a lot from published research. The reason for the recent development is that the development of psychology as a scientific discipline itself began in 1879, but sport psychology branched off much later, about 30 years ago. American Psychological Association recognized the Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology only in 1985. There is still a lot of research that has not reached the athletes. Some of the services provided by sport psychology are "imagery training, arousal management or attention focus, substance abuse management, relaxation training, motivational strategies, competitive pressure management and programs" for successful retirement from sports. (Using the weapons of Sports Psychology in Athletics) The importance of sport psychology is that actual event is not the most difficult part of competition for many athletes, but the period leading to the event. There are many poor memories for athletes due to poor performances in the past. (Performing your best... When it counts the most!) These memories lead them to have doubts about their own ability to perform well during the present competition. This leads to mental pressure on them.

Theories of self- talk

For athletes it is a continuous challenge to improve on their past performance. Along with this they face a frustration that they have identical or even superior physical attributes when compared to their competitors who turnout to be eventual winners. In many such cases it has been seen that the main cause for the victory of the eventual winner is that those competitors believe that they are superior and will win. Thus the athletes who do not win are those who do not have faith in their own ability to perform better than the competition that they are facing. Yet the competition is the same for most challengers that they face. At the same time, it has been seen that the faith of any human being in any area of their ability to perform will ultimately be the result that will achieve in that area - positive, negative or stagnant. Thus it is very important to change this belief which is limiting the performance of an athlete to a positive belief - a belief that will improve the performance of the individual. (Belief, self-talk and performance enhancement)

According to research by psychologists and neuroscientists that there is a continuous ongoing dialogue within every human being and this is at high speed - between 150 to 300 words a minute. This adds up to 45,000 and 51,000 thoughts a day. (Belief, self-talk and performance enhancement) A lot of these talks are about day-to-day jobs like a need to stop at the cleaners, or buying some item. When these thoughts turn to suggesting to the individual that he is not as good an athlete as a competitor, or negating his own capacities like feeling that he is not as tough as another competitor, or degrading his own capacities like saying that he is not fast enough, then the thoughts start harming his capacities as a sport person. The regular and ongoing self-talk end up as reinforcement for the individual's own belief in his own limited capacities. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The entire lack of performance is due to stress and the process of stress in humans has two main reasons - the first is that they feel threatened by the situation and the second is their own lack of faith in their ability to meet the challenge. The amount of stress to an individual depends on the individual's judgment of the harm that the situation can cause them and their belief in their own capacity to meet the challenge, or at least proceed to a reasonable level. For all these situations, the key for judgment is the perception as the situations are not stressful in their own capacities. The stress is felt according to the perception of the individual. In some cases, the judgment of the affected individual may be correct, and the situation may be a physical threat or a social threat or a threat to a career. Stress and emotion are part of the early warning signs for these threats that tell others about the threat having started. (Thought Awareness, Rational Thinking and Positive Thinking)

The result of the threat often leads to harshness with one's own self. This harshness is a part of the totally negative thinking that is the reason for stress and unhappiness. Ultimately it leads to undermining of self-confidence. The negative thinking comes in the form of worries for the future, demeaning yourself, continuously highlight own errors, doubt own capacities and finally expecting failure. This is negative thinking which damages confidence and harms performance. This negative thought is often not continuous but comes, does the damage and goes out again. The harmful effect remains though persons do not realize the reason. The process of becoming aware of the processes inside your mind is called 'thought awareness.'

One method of finding out about it is to think of a stressful situation and at that time do not suppress thoughts or feelings. Whatever happens, write them down when they occur. To maintain a regular record is writing this down in the stress diary. The advantage of maintaining a stress diary is that in the end a person has made a note of all unpleasant matters that have caused stress even for periods of one or two weeks. The form of stress is in negative thoughts and anxieties, unpleasant or difficult memories and situations perceived as negative by the person maintaining the diary. These will then have to be evaluated. After a record of negative thoughts have been made for some time, then when one goes through them during a normal period, he will find patterns in the negative thinking that has been noted. Some of the thoughts will be seen to come frequently and causing most damage. These have to be tackled first, and you can manage thoughts only with a stress diary as you cannot manage thoughts without being aware of them. To find out negative thoughts look at all the thoughts and challenge them. In many instances it may be noted that negative thoughts are due to feelings of inadequacy, feelings that performances will not be adequate, and anxieties about the reaction from others. This leads to the next step of challenging the negative thoughts. (Thought Awareness, Rational Thinking and Positive Thinking)

Regarding feelings of inadequacy the questions to be asked are whether the training and teaching has been enough for the competition; whether the experience and resources available are enough; has the planning, preparation and rehearsals been enough, etc. If all these are adequate then the probable standards set by the competitor are probably too high and unattainable. The next set of worries is regarding performance, and for this the first question is regarding the adequacy of training. Another area of worry may be planning for the meet, or information and resources, fixing up the time and informing it to the support teams, preparation, etc. If these have not been done, then it is important that it is completed urgently. Once these are completed then the person is ready to give the best possible performance.

Another set of worries may be regarding events outside the control of the individual and these are with contingency planning. For this purpose, the matter has to be thought over and become prepared to handle all possible contingencies. The last set of worries is about the reactions of other people, but there is not much requirement to worry about this. An individual can only perform as good as his capacity, and once that is done, then others have to be satisfied. There may be unfair… [END OF PREVIEW]

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