Every major sporting event is associated with enormous and imposed from all sides pressure. Competition on the fields, courts or in the halls requires excellent preparation, not only in terms of physical, but also mental. Therefore, the work of psychologists responsible for the so-called mental training, which is often the gateway to the final triumph, proves invaluable.
Mental training is an absolute necessity if we think about achieving success in any field, and it is no different in sports. Thanks to regular sessions under the watchful eye of a psychologist we acquire the ability to control both internal factors and external stimuli. We can then focus fully on the task and develop automatisms so important in sports. Negative thoughts and worrying about the opinion of others, which can significantly contribute to defeat, are forgotten. Studies confirm that athletes who use the services of a psychologist are usually much more successful than those who shy away from such services.
One of the most classic and most used techniques in mental training is the imagination technique. As the name suggests, it involves imagining given movements or ways of performing particular plays. It is worth remembering that this technique will be helpful only in perfecting the already acquired skills – it will not teach you something completely new. Different types of imagery will also be useful in the context of getting used to a new place. The effectiveness of the imagery technique is so high that it is used by almost 100% of athletes, who highly praise its use.
An element of the technique discussed just now is the so-called internal dialogue, which is nothing else but talking to yourself in your mind. It sounds childishly simple, but it is extremely important that such a conversation is properly planned. So let’s focus on giving your mind motivating slogans that will encourage you to put in even more effort, which in turn will contribute to achieving much better results. Internal dialogue will be a great choice especially for people practicing endurance sports (running, cycling). It will allow you to control emotions – both positive and negative – and provide high confidence for the entire duration of the competition.
Setting goals is an inseparable and key element of every athlete’s life. Psychologists distinguish three types of goals: those concerning the process (100% concentration on the task), performance (honing skills) and the result, which are the greatest motivation. It is important that the initiative comes from the athlete himself. It cannot be allowed that the goals are set by the coach or parents. It is the athlete who knows himself and his body best, and therefore should be able to draw up a plan of action on his own, possibly with a little help from the trainer.
Practicing sport is much more than just many hours of physical exertion. To get the most out of yourself, relaxation is equally important. This type of training helps the athlete to overcome the stress that accompanies big events by reducing arousal. In this way the athlete can concentrate only on the task and avoid simple mistakes. Relaxation usually involves alternately tensing and relaxing given muscle groups, and the most commonly used techniques are Jacobson training and autogenic Schultz training.
Each of these techniques can be just what we need to turn hours of training into real success. Of course, much depends on our individual needs, so the best solution would be to consult a psychologist. The psyche plays a huge role in sport, and often it is the psyche that decides who ultimately wins. If we diligently work on our own head, we will certainly reap its fruits more than once in the future.
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