Proper Usage of Psychology in Sports
In conditions of rigid competition in the sphere of sports, thorough and continuous work is required in order to achieve the best results. In this regard, the psychological factor of athletes’ training gains significant importance. Participation of psychologists in the process of athletes’ preparation is not limited to the mere formation of the optimal mental state before competitions. The development of modern psychological science also allows to transfer the part of exhausting physical trainings in mental sphere. Psychologists create the most favorable conditions for overcoming the consequences of the loss or injury and teach athletes the skills of self-regulation. Therefore, the purpose of the current paper is to study the importance of psychology in sports and its proper usage so as to highlight its ability to enhance equal opportunities for all participants of the competition and initiate changes on the global scale.
To begin with, it should be mentioned that all sportsmen generally fall into several categories. According to one of the classifications adopted in the United States, there are certain personality traits based on the type of activity that athletes are involved in. The first category includes those whose activities are directly aimed against their rivals. They are presumably more dominant and tend to blame other people in their failures. Furthermore, these sportsmen often express aggression outside sports field. The second group includes those athletes who are involved in uncertain sports activities, for example, tennis. Such sportsmen are more confident on the whole. They feel free in uncertain situations, as well as possess a number of qualities that allow them to adapt to external changes rather easily. In such a way, it is obvious that certain kinds of sport have their own influence on the people doing these activities, and thus, the people belonging to the first group have a more urgent need for the professional psychologist in their team.
Proper usage of psychology in sport field can help to avoid a great number of negative consequences. First, almost all sportsmen are rather selfish which is a great and a widespread problem of the field discussed. An incentive or motivating basis for the highest achievements in the sport activities directly relates to the field of self-centeredness. Reaching success, an athlete and a coach can see and feel as if they are in the center of events that occur around them. For many types of personalities represented in sport, this feeling is above all in the system of value orientations. A pedestal in sports is in a way a symbol of isolation of “I”. Being on the highest step of honor, an athlete along with a coach feels in the center of an artificially created situation in the world of sports. However, the pedestal is only the one of many famous sports attributes. Elite sport is an island of special life, which is frequently akin to religion with its temples, hymns, clothing, rituals, fasts, symbols, and rules. Many people even pray to athletic performance. The way of life of numerous athletes and their spiritual world is very different from the that of non-athletes, so the traditional, standardized assessment of their personality and activities is often just inappropriate to apply.
Strong desire to realize the egocentric nature finds a favorable ground in sports. Therefore, people with the most vividly expressed ambition of self-affirmation, glory, and excellence go in for sport more often than others. To realize their goals, such people demonstrate unprecedented feats and overcoming of weaknesses, fatigue, danger, and external obstacles. However, long-term systematic efforts in trainings and competitions, as well as renunciation of many pleasures can consequently lead to the risk of health state deterioration. Apart from that, sportsmen frequently fail to realize themselves in the future in some other fields of activity, which can result in depressions. Hence, such people definitely need the assistance of psychologists. Effective usage of psychology can help sportsmen to manage an overwhelming desire to win. In this regard, psychologists can educate sportsmen about the importance of respecting other competitors, which can be done with the help of conversation. In the book Handbook of Sports Medicine and Science, it is noted that “sport psychology services, like most professional activities, usually involve negotiation process between the deliverer and the client”. In other words, communication is one of the important parts in solving sportsmen’s problems.
Sport psychologists should help to find other spheres of interest except sport that people could relate to. Athletes must realize that their career is relatively short, and an unfortunate trauma can make it even shorter. This is why it is important to plan what a person can do when a career of a sportsman will be over. Over the course of professional activity of any athlete, there are critical periods that may be caused by the variety of reasons, such as failure in the competition, transition to another club, the change of the coach, the circumstances of personal life, and others. Sports psychologist can help athletes understand the nature of the problems and find the solution appropriate to the situation, which will give strength for the new achievements in sport. The book The Sport Psychologist’s Handbook affirms that “sport psychologists must have sufficient knowledge of psychology, applied sport sciences, and the sport itself”. In such a way, sport psychologists change the world of a sportsman relieving him or her from a sense of superiority and unhealthy aggression. By doing so, sport psychologists can make considerable changes in the whole world.
In order to solve certain problems with sportsmen, sport psychologists should spot the problem before the crisis, when an athlete may suddenly become unmanageable and does not want to listen to anyone shutting in his or her feelings. Providing effective psychological assistance in sport and implementing psychological support, a specialist should create an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding, as well as establish such a relationship with an athlete that will enable to have a constructive influence on spirit. Psychologists should be well aware of delicate and fragile nature of the connections between them and their clients. Therefore, specialists need to be very careful with sportsmen to build a therapeutic relationship when there are no trifles, because any thoughtless gesture or word can destroy everything that was created over the long and painstaking period.
Psychologists should educate athletes to control their mind and emotions. In this regard, it is sensible to “organize a meeting with individual athletes or small groups for mental skills training”. Creation of psychological comfort for athletes, assistance in solving personal problems and collisions, or conflicts with the coach, teammates, or loved ones is essential and requires proper attention. In addition, teaching athletes to form long-term prospects including the further end of the sports career and future adaptation may also help in solving potential problems.
To conclude, every victory is a result of hard trainings, strict regime, diet, and emotions. As such, sport is not only physical exercises. It is a hard work which is sometimes more moral than physical. Athletes must have a goal, and should be motivated, patient, and confident in achieving it. Another very important factor is the ability to control emotions and abstract from external stimuli. Therefore, it is necessary to acknowledge that an athlete must not only train the body but also the spirit. Sports psychology can help in all of this. Proper usage of this field of knowledge in sports has a great number of advantages. In this regard, psychologists can help athletes to create a system of life values and guiding lines, and maintain motivation for a distant but cherished goal.