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Throughout a season, there are many problems that a team, individual athlete or squad may face. At times, they are arguably uncontrollable challenges such as injury, low morale or a bad run of form. In some instances, teams, managers and training staff may have to face this level of pressure simultaneously, which may cripple a team that do not have the right foundations.

On the flip side, teams may be faced with positive challenges throughout a season –  especially when performing well. There are certain levels of pressure that go hand in hand with success which may not always be simple to deal with. Building upon high morale, maintaining togetherness, capitalizing on a winning streak and keeping common goals and focus aligned throughout a team. These can be equally as challenging.

In order to effectively deal with these mental challenges, you may want to consider a sports psychologist.

Why?

Collective and individual mentality can play a crucial role in helping reduce negative outcomes when faced with these types of hurdles.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why your team needs a sports psychologist.

 

Performing Under Pressure

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As a sportsman, when losing an important game, experiencing mistakes or taking on a specific responsibility in a match, your heart rate may rise because of the stress hormones (cortisol) your brain releases. This could also be perceived and experienced as becoming tired quicker than usual. Sports psychologists assist with this by providing tools and techniques to help deal with pressure. These include:

  • Mental Skills:
    • Breathing practices and techniques
    • Positive visualisation and imagery
    • Understanding your self-talk and what works and what doesn’t
    • Accepting and being non-judgemental on negative thoughts, doubts, fears etc
  • Mental toughness/resilience training

This type of training helps athletes respond properly to an increased heart rate caused by pressure so as to manage fatigue and help maintain performance levels.

Enhancing Mental Performance

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You may need a sports psychologist for your team to help your athletes overcome the fears involved in high-performance sport such as:

  • The fear of failure and letting the team down
  • The fear of embarrassment (this may affect an individual’s ability to take risks and perform at their best)
  • Performance anxiety – affects athletes that are highly talented and dedicated (may develop concerns over their individual performance and what people think about their performance.)

The role of a sports psychologist is to teach mental skills to help athletes achieve enhanced performance. You may look to a sports psychologist when your team is struggling with:

  • Confidence – on an individual or team level – lack of trust in their ability.
  • Focus – is your team focused on the things that they can control and have an impact on?
  • Communication – a balance of challenge and support? Is there a level of healthy conflict?
  • Intensity – are your team members motivated? Do they understand their ‘why’?

The role of a sports psychologist may run deeper than just performance on the pitch. When an athlete is performing at their best both mentally and physically, that energy and satisfaction may affect their personal lives positively too.

Dealing with Injury

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Coming back after injury can have a massive effect on an athlete’s mind. One of the main reasons for having a sports psychologist is to help individuals overcome the mental scars that may develop when overcoming or returning from a long-term injury.

They may have healed physically, but coping with the pressures that are associated with returning and maintaining their prior level of performance (getting back to their best) can be tricky. This is where a sports psychologist can help.

Through teaching individuals how to practice certain specialized techniques and methods, sports psychology may go a long way in helping an athlete through this stressful process, helping them get back to their best in as little time as possible.

Mentally Prepare for Competition

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Sports psychologists may be able to help athletes facing internal and external pressures when competing. In most cases, there has been a lot of time, effort, and money invested in the journey of a sportsman. From junior to senior level. When competing at a professional level, there is usually a lot of history and support that goes along with that.

The pressure that comes with support from parents, friends, financial backers, coaches and their club may prove too much. Having a negative effect on the individual’s overall performance.

A sports psychologist can assist in helping the individual focus on the task at hand as well as a team’s own expectations.

At Awaremind, we work with individuals, teams, coaches, performance directors and support staff, helping them to maintain consistently high performances throughout the season. We have specialist knowledge in the areas of performing under pressure and mental resilience in challenging environments. So, if a sports psychologist is something your team may need, get in touch with us – we thrive off of helping teams perform at their absolute best.

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