How can athletes benefit from psychology?
Just like being in great physical shape is important when participating in sport, it is also important to keep your mind in tip-top condition.
Psychology can benefit athletes of all levels manage the demands of sport and competition, and is not solely for athletes who are experiencing difficulties.
Psychology has a wide range of benefits and can help athletes:
Enhance performance: Mental strategies, such as self-talk, imagery, relaxation and reflection, can help athletes overcome obstacles, build resilience and fulfil their potential.
Control focus and attention: Identifying distractors and learning how to manage them helps athletes focus on the things most important for performance.
Cope with the pressures of competition: Learning to deal with pressure from parents, coaches or even their own expectations is important for athletes to be able to perform at their best. Athletes who become overwhelmed by pressure or experience extreme levels of anxiety before competition may choke at a key moment. Mental strategies and emotional regulation techniques can be used to help athletes cope with the pressures of competition effectively.
Building confidence: Lacking confidence can have a detrimental effect on athletes’ performance. Psychology can help athletes build confidence and perform at their best.
Recover from injuries: Injuries can be devastating for athletes. Athletes may benefit from help adjusting to time away from competition, adhering to rehabilitation programmes and/or tolerating pain. Injuries can damage athletes’ confidence in their bodies (particularly the injured area) and so may also benefit from psychological support during the return to sport.
Stick to a training programme: Sometimes it’s hard to stick to a training schedule. Even people who want to exercise regularly might find themselves struggling to find motivation sometimes. Psychologists can help these individuals increase their motivation and tackle any related concerns.
Enjoy sports and enhance well-being: Sports psychology is not solely focused on performance and psychologists can work with athletes and coaches to promote healthy, enjoyable participation in sport.
How to get psychological support
Sian works with athletes to improve their psychological skills. She graduated from Loughborough University in 2010 with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology before going on to complete an MSc in Clinical Psychology at Swansea University in 2012 and an MSc in Sports Psychology in 2017. She has previously worked in NHS mental health services and is now embarking on her PhD in Sports Psychology alongside working as a mindset coach with the School of Hard Knocks.
Sian is an athlete herself and was a junior international, competing as part of the Great Britain athletics team in multiple European and World Championships. Sian has a keen interest in using her personal and professional expertise to help athletes of all abilities enhance both their sporting performance and their wellbeing.
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