In training everyone focuses on 90 percent physical and 10 percent mental, but in the races it’s 90 percent mindful because there’s very little that separates us physically at the elite level.
- Elka Graham, Australian swimming legend.
Sports psychology is principally for athletes, but it is equally useful for coaches and team managers, as well as parents and guardians.
Ask any champion athlete whether psychology is vital to success, and the answer every time will be a resounding yes. What many athletes and coaches are unsure about is how precisely to develop psychological skills and mindful approach to training and competition.
Clearly, the psychological aspect of performance can vary from day to day. If this were not the case, Tiger Woods would always win the US open, Usain Bolt would always win the Olympic 100 – meter title, Brazil would always win the FIFA world cup, and Sachin Tendulkar would always bat century. The huge appeal of sport stems from the unpredictability. We never know for sure, who’s going to win. It is precisely this uncertainty that can be a source of great frustration for athletes and often accounts for thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are not conducive to good performance.
One of the main challenges for athletes and their coaches is to be able to produce strong performances consistently, week in and week out. A lack of consistency is often what prevents people with considerable skill and ability from reaching the pinnacle of success for which they seem destined. The funny thing is that athletes have much more control over the consistency of their performance than they might imagine.
Psychological makeup is certainly not a magic wand, and it won’t transform someone without the right physical makeup into a Serena Williams, Jenson Button, or Christiano Ronaldo. What it will do is enable athletes to concentrate for better, guide them toward improving their self – confidence, reduce the number of times they choke in pressure situations, and perhaps help them to conquer that opponent who has hitherto gotten the better of them.
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