What We’ll Talk About… Who am I? What is Sport Psychology? What skills are involved? How to mentally prepare for practice and competition. How concentration can improve performance. Questions/Discussion.
Catherine McCanny Degree in Psychology from University of Ulster. Ma Sport and Exercise Psychology from W.I.T. Enjoy playing all sports, mainly golf which I’ve been playing from age 9. Like to keep fit.
What Is Sport Psychology? The study of an athlete or teams’ behaviour in sport. In particular how psychological factors affect performance. How many of you have played your absolute best one match, yet played your worst the next? Did you have the same equipment? At times like these our mental attitudes and beliefs can have a huge impact on our performance.
What Mental Skills Are Needed In Sport? Visualisation/Imagery Relaxation Self-talk Motivation Concentration/Focus
Mental Preparation • Mental preparation can be used during practice. • Emulate testing scenarios that can occur in the game. • Introducing fatigue. • Gamesmanship. • Bad referee decisions. • Pressure situations.
Mental Preparation • Helps us to “be in the right mindset” before we arrive at training or a match. • Busy lives mean we go from one place to the other absentmindedly. • Can lead to just going through the motions. • Begin with the simple things • Making sure you have your kit packed the night before. • Ensure you have enough time to get from A to B. (Rushing =stress).
Mental Preparation for Competition • Is individual; • How do you like to feel before competition? • Psyched up? • Calm? • Somewhere in between? • Make expectations realistic • Base them on past performances. • Sometimes unrealistic expectations can lead to unnecessary pressure.
Mental Preparation for Competition • Confidence = good performance, not the other way round. • Athletes tend to become confident following a great performance. • After a poor performance they lose confidence. • Use your mental preparation time before a game to work on confidence.
Mental Preparation for Competition • Visualisation is a great way to do this, but involves some practice. • Visualise competition venue before a game. • Arriving • Talking to team-mates. • Warming up • Walking confidently onto pitch.
Concentration/Focus Most people would define concentration as paying attention to what ‘s important in a situation and ignoring distractions. E.g. Taking a penalty whilst ignoring distractions from the crowd. Sometimes easier said than done!! We aren’t designed to concentrate for long periods of time.
Different Types of Concentration In game-like situations or in practice, different types of focus are needed depending on the intended goal.
Losing Concentration Often when we lose concentration it is because we are focusing on the wrong thing. These distractions can either be internal (yourself) or external (other factors within the game). Can you think of any distractions that you encounter during competition? How do they affect you and how do you react to them?
How Do You “Keep” Concentration 1) Make the decision to concentrate. • By planning ahead you’re more likely to carry out the action-think of an alarm clock. • Think of a switch. • Know when to turn on & off. 2) When distractions appear, remember to refocus. • Use trigger words to remind yourself . • Draw symbols or write words on equipment. 3) Focus outwards when nervous. • Don’t dwell on internal thoughts. • Visualise your actions prior to performing them. Eg: Penalty taking.
How Do You “Keep” Concentration 4) Focus on one thing at a time • Sometimes there’s a tendency to “overthink” when we are performing poorly. • By narrowing our thoughts we can focus on what’s most important.
Summary Through the consistent practice of preparation and concentration you can improve your own performance. It only takes a few minutes each day/training session. Hope you enjoyed the presentation, questions?