Mental Aspects of Sport Performance
Sport is all about enjoying the game is a phase long gone now. With the time flies, the competition is fierce and survival in sports is a must. The only thing that is important to the players are the performance on the field and nothing else.
Have you ever wondered why athletes cannot perform well in the tournaments despite of having months and days of good training?
They tend to make mistakes at crucial point or at the last moment. Somehow this thing happened with me also. Being a national level table tennis player, I have faced mental stress many times. So keep the mind calm and focus during the competition. If you are in doubt or confused, the communication is the key. You should feel free to talk openly with your coach, psychologist, dietician, parents or anyone. It will help in finding more effective solutions to your problems.
Negligence on the mental side:
The technical skills of the athletes are usually not the only cause of change in performance, but the mental or psychological aspect is the one that demands attention. The mental aspect is neglect many times. And it may be considered as natural for all athletes. And they may be expected to learn to deal with situations by themselves.
When the performance starts fluctuating a little, the mental aspect is still not given importance. But when the performance becomes a major issue the mental stress like depression, fear, anxiety take place. And the door to mental preparation or training is knocked and approached as the last hope or possibility.
Benefits of mental training in sports:
Just like the athletes train every day to improve to improve technical skills, physical fitness and exercise. They need to train themselves mentally to improve their mental strength and prepare mentally during the competitions.
The mental training is a process that takes time to have an effect on performance. An athlete must practice mental skills regularly, not just before a match or after a loss. But it does not mean the athlete will never feel pressured or never lose and make mistakes. Mental training helps the challenging situations to play and cope well.
Mental Skills to enhance sport performance:
- Positive attitude – The right attitude and positive thinking are necessary mental skill for performing well in competitions. Although the association between positive thinking or attitude and performance has not been scientifically proven, but researchers have identified a consistent positive effect of positive thinking on the sports performances. A positive attitude helps in the losing, and a strong believe that you can still win.
- Talk to yourself – What we say to ourselves can be instructional and motivational. Self-talk is directed to oneself to maintain the self-confidence during tough situations. It also regulates thoughts, feelings and behaviors during competition.
- Mental imagery – Prepare yourself for competition and imagine yourself performing well in competition. Create good mental images that are positive, detailed and specific.
- Dealing effectively with Anxiety and stress – Accept emotions such as anger, anxiety, disappointment as part of the sport. Anxiety is probably the most destruction of the negative emotions. You may not realize it, but not drinking enough water can make your anxiety symptoms worse and this can lead to feelings of panic, which may trigger an anxiety attack.
- Maintain concentration while in competition – The most difficult mental skill to learn is maintaining your focus and concentration while in the competition. Learn to ignore distractions coming from the audience, opposes, surroundings etc.
Sport psychology is consist of many mental skills, which refer to the psychological qualities that an athlete can learn and develop. In order to maximize the performance, athletes must practice the mental training regularly.
Concentration and Mental Toughness are the margins of Victory.– Bill Russell
Read my other article: The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Global Sports