Sports Psychology Many different psychological methods can be used to improve psychological skill performance in physical activity. Psychological methods used to improve key areas of mental skill performance include: • Concentration • Confidence • Motivation • Arousal
ConfidenceWhat is it? Can be defined as “ a persons belief in themselves to complete a task”. Confidence affects a persons thinking and concerns they have about the activity they are performing A person lacking confidence tends to think negatively and doubt their ability to complete a task well Confident people back their ability and have positive thoughts about what they are doing People that perform skills with high levels of confidence are more likely to be positive about what they are doing and often tend to have better levels of success People with less confidence tend to have a negative mindset about what they are doing, doubt their ability to perform the task, and often experience less success as a result
A bit of nervousness may enhance performance but sustained anxiety can have negative effects, slowing down reaction times and reducing responsiveness to cues. How can a coach help their athlete to keep their nerves in check. Confidence is sport is an athlete’s belief in their ability to execute the various skills required for playing their sport. Essentially it is whether or not you expect to be successful when you attempt a particular skill. Essentially there are four main sources of information that will influence your level of self-confidence. These are: • Whether or not you have performed successfully in the past • Watching other athletes / players perform the skill ( Modelling ) • Having other people tell you that you can perform the skill successfully ( verbal persuasion) • How you interpret your physical and emotional feelings about an upcoming performance
What are the benefits of a high degree of self-confidence ? • Players are more likely to remain calm in pressure situations, thus allowing them to make the right decisions • They can focus on the task at hand, rather than worry about the consequences of being unsuccessful • Players are less likely to “give up” in tough situations • They are more likely to adopt positive tactics that involve educated risk-taking • Confident players are less concerned with making mistakes
Things that affect your confidence: • Level of ability or knowledge in the chosen activity • Your performance at practice • How you performed the skill last time • Your equipment • The weather • Crowds and venues These influences all have a positive and negative aspect to them, and many are out of a persons control.
Improving Confidence • Set realistic goals that are within the persons ability to achieve and by changing negative thought patterns so they become positive and constructive e.g. “I am useless and cannot do this” to “ I am still learning this skill and have improved, and I need to concentrate on the technique” • Work at a level where you will regularly experience success • Make activities easy and less competitive to perform initially, progressing to harder and more competitive activities as the persons ability develops • Progression from simple and non-competitive skills allows a person to remain motivatedto achieve better results Motivation.... What is that?
Motivation Ever wonder why some people seem to be very successful, highly motivated individuals? Where does the energy, the drive or the direction come from ? Motivation is an area of psychology that has gotten a great deal of attention, especially in recent years. Motivation is both “ wanting to” and “having to” do something. Motivation is primarily made up of the direction and intensity of effort It energises, selects and directs performance Without sufficient motivation you will not perform well in competition or train effectively.
Motivation is… “.. the direction and intensity of an individuals efforts.” - (Sage) Motivation can be defined as “ a persons desire to complete a task”. Motivation is one of the most important factors that affect human performance. High levels of motivation can allow players to reach exceptional levels of performance; low levels of motivation result in players not putting in the effort required to participate in an activity to the best of their ability Highly motivated people will stick with an activity even when things are not going well People with low motivation will tend to “give up” and quit their involvement Motivation is affected particularly by a persons inward desire to participate in a physical activity – this can involve fun, enjoyment and satisfaction Motivation comes from two main sources:
Internal factors are perhaps the most effective factors of motivation, because they do not require help from external factors.
Motivation – Intrinsic and Extrinsic Intrinsic Motivation: Comes from within the individual. This is more effective and meaningful and is more likely to create a lasting effect. This occurs when the individual is personally motivated because they enjoy it, like the challenge or even want to master a skill.
Extrinsic Motivation: Comes from someone or something else – your coach, captain, opposition, rewards, trophies or even money. Often this type of motivation is more useful for sparking inspiration but does not hold any long term value. His must come form the individual. Extrinsic Motivation
People are motivated in different ways and their performance can be affected depending on what techniques are used. The 2 common methods are: Reinforcement& Punishment Motivation and Performance
Material Reinforcement and External Reinforcement
Arousal Arousal is the mental state of readiness a person is in before and during activity. It involves the levels of stress and anxiety most people experience before a challenging activity. Some nerves / anxiety is necessary before competition, as it energises and brings the person up to an optimal level of arousal, however, too much stress ( usually caused b the pressure to perform well) can interfere with performance.
A common belief has traditionally been that the more “psyched up” a person is before they perform an activity, the better they will perform. This led to becoming over-aroused, which led to mistakes because theyhad become overly enthusiastic. Listening to music is a good way of controlling arousal before a game
The Inverted “U” Theory of Arousal The Inverted U Theory of Arousal suggests that there is an optimal state of mental preparation which will lead to good performance. When an individual is under or over aroused, performance decreases. Background and personality affect the level of arousal needed to perform. Over Aroused Under Aroused Inability to concentrate Looking/sounding tired Over aggressive Careless Fear / worry Easily distracted
Sport Specific Optimal Levels of Arousal Yerkes-Dodson Law: If the task is complex, requiring fine motor skill, the optimal level of arousal is low. If the task is relatively simple, requiring gross motor skill, the optimal level of arousal is high.
Concentration Concentration allows a person to focus their attention on what is necessary to successfully complete an activity. Concentration is affected by a persons level of arousal and their motivation to perform. It can also be improved with practice. Lapses in concentration causes people to make mistakes and errors of judgement. Improved concentration makes people more alert and able to respond more quickly to events that happen in physical activity. This is especially important in fast-paced sports such as cricket where players may only have half a second to perform a skill.
What is concentration? Concentration is an intellectual attribute that is particularly important for peak performance. Mistakes on the field invariably come from a loss in concentration Concentration is the ability to “ hold “ the appropriate attentional focus for the required period of time. Distraction control or “refocusing” is required to avoid disruptions in concentration. Simple tasks require a minimal amount of our attention. However, as tasks become more complex, the demands to be more attentive increase.
When an athlete performs a task, he/she must continuously make judgements about what information (“cues”) to attend to and what information to ignore or disregard Therefore concentration or attention can actually be described as selective thinking; that is, thinking about the “cues” or information that we attend to and use; what we “focus” on. It is also important to note that individuals have attentional styles that may or may not suit the attentional demands of that sport or activity.
Mental Preparation Mental preparation is used to organise a consistent and structured routine of mental plans hat can be used before and during an activity. Players can develop set patterns of behaviour which can focus them on performing well and deal with the stress of competitive activity. Mental preparation uses a number of psychological skills: • Visualisation • Mental Imagery • Self-talk • routines • relaxation
Visualisation / Mental Imagery Mental Imagery / visualisation involves the athletes imagining themselves in a specific environment or performing a specific activity. The images should have the athlete performing these items very well ( perhaps even perfectly ) and successfully. They should see themselves enjoying the activity and feeling satisfied with their performance. They should attempt to enter fully into the image with all their senses. Sight, hear, feel, touch, smell and perform as they would like to perform in real life.
When an athlete is in a fully relaxed state, he/she is particularly receptive to mental imagery. The next stage is then to learn how to develop and apply mental imagery skills. What can Mental Imagery be used for? • To motivate: Before or during training sessions, calling up images of your goals for that session, or of a past or future competition or competitor can serve a motivational purpose. It can vividly remind you of your objective, which can result in increased intensity in training. • To perfect skills: Mental imagery is often used to facilitate the learning and refinement of skills or skill sequences. The best athletes “see: and “feel” themselves performing perfect skills, programs, routines or plays on a very regular basis
To refocus: Mental imagery can be useful in helping you to re focus when the need arises. For example, if a warm-up is feeling sluggish, imagery of a previous best performance or previous best event focus can help get things back on track. You can also use imagery as a means of refocusing within the event, by imagining what you should focus on and feeling that focus.
When should mental imagery be used? To become highly proficient, you have to use it every day, on your way to training, during training, after training, and in the evenings before sleeping. If you want to perfect and use mental imagery to your fullest advantage you can start by doing two things. In every training session, before you execute any skill or combination of skills, first do it in imagery as perfectly and precisely as possible. See, feel and experience yourself moving through the actions in your mind as you would like them actually to unfold. In competitions, before the event starts, mentally recall the event focus plan, significant plays, skills, movements, reactions or feelings that you want to carry into the event. It is better suited to Associative or Autonomous learners. This is because Cognitive learners will often not be able to “see” a perfect picture of what the skill looks like. They are still trying to understand the task.
Self-Talk Self –talk may be described as conscious thinking, as inner conversation, or as intentional thinking. Good “self-talk” occurs when athletes use specific phrases or cues to hold an appropriate focus. Effective self-talk is not an in-depth conversation with yourself. It should be short and precise; a minimal amount of thought to affirm confidence in yourself. Self –talk Feelings Behaviour
Your level and type of self-talk is clearly linked to your motivation and self-confidence. Confident athletes/ players think they can, and they do! On the other hand, athletes/players with low self-confidence think they can’t and invariably they don’t. The first step in gaining control of self-talk is to become aware of what you say to yourself. It is particularly important to identify and eliminate negative and self-defeating thoughts. For example: “ I always struggle against this opponent,” or “ I never play well in the rain”. Positive self-talk is designed to enable you to create and maintain your ideal performance state. For example: “I have trained hard today”, I am an excellent defender”.
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