So, what exactly are the techniques that sports psychologists use to help athletes reach the pinnacle of their success? Here are some of the most common techniques that form the backbone of sports psychology:
Visualization: If you’re running a 10km marathon, it’s no easy feat. If you visualize yourself being pulled by some mystical force towards the finish line, it makes the dash easier! Imagine a magnetic forcefield making you gravitate towards your goal. You might be more motivated to make the big dash to reach the end goal and emerge victorious.
Focusing on the Present: When one is in a competitive environment, mistakes are common. Suppose you score an own goal like Egypt did in yesterday’s enthralling match, don’t beat yourself up about it! Focus on the present situation and trudge on to try and gain back your traction in the game. Ruminating over your past mistakes will only make you less motivated to give your best.
Body Scan and Self-Appraisal: In a training session, it’s important to remember that giving one’s own best is of the highest importance. Setting one’s personal best is way more satisfying than overpowering your peers! This is where the notion of differentiating ‘good pain’ and harmful pain. It’s important to assess how much one can go till they reach the limit of their capacity. Good pain helps muscles grow, and its important to avoid hurting one’s self. This would lead to compromising one’s capacity for optimal performance. Ask yourself, ‘Is this pace good enough, or can I go further?’ before putting unnecessary strain on one’s body.
Chunking One’s Goals: Looking at the journey to our goals as a single, long road is daunting. Adding a few pitstops on the way might lead us to believe that the ultimate result is more achievable. For example, one can divide a workout into sections. An energizing snack or a few sips of water after each chunk of training will make you feel more motivated!
An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.