What is the purpose of sport psychology?
Sport psychology helps us understand how psychological factors, like your thoughts, feelings, focus, and level of confidence, impact your performance. It provides concrete tools for overcoming performance anxiety, improving when in a slump, going from good to great, and great to even better. Sport psychology also helps us understand how participation in sports impacts your emotional well-being. It provides insight into the importance of taking care of yourself on a broader level and recognizes the way that sports have an effect on your life outside of sports (e.g., how a slump impacts your mood, how sports participation impacts self-esteem).
Why work with a sport psychologist?
When comparing your best and worst athletic performance in the past few months, think about what percentage of the difference in those performances had to do with your physical skills and what percentage was mental? Keeping that percentage in mind, how much time do you spend working on your mental game? For many people, the answer is, not that much. Working with a sport psychologist can help you learn strategies for peak performance so that you can gain a mental edge and perform up to your potential. In addition to peak performance, here are other reasons why athletes seek the help of a sport psychologist:
- Coping with pressure from others’ expectations and/or your own expectations
- Managing anxiety: from typical performance anxiety to debilitating performance anxiety
- Increasing confidence
- Managing emotions and getting in the zone
- Increasing your motivation and enjoyment
- Improving concentration and learning how to stay in the moment
- Shifting thinking patterns: managing self-critical, negative thoughts and working toward positive, balanced thoughts
- Learning how to more effectively cope with injury
- Addressing body image concerns and/or disordered eating
- Balancing the demands of athletics with those of everyday life
- Coping with life stress and its impact both within and outside of sports
- Coping with depression or anxiety and its impact both within and outside of sports
- Coping with the end of your sports career