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Sport Psychology


Sport Psychology Sports Theory (Fall) Simulation In many ways simulation is superior to imagery in training, as the stresses introduced are often more vivid because ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Sport Psychology

Sport Psychology
  • Sports Theory (Fall)

Mind and body link
  • Part of the reason that human children take so
    long to reach maturity relative to animals is
    that we have many more nerve cells in our brain.
  • Initially our brains are very disorganized.

  • Much of the process of growing up, being
    educated, and becoming mentally mature is the
    process of organizing the vast chaos of the
    interconnectedness of the nerves in our brain
    into useful pathways.
  • Much of the process of learning and improving
    sporting reflexes and skills is the laying down,
    modification, and strengthening of nerve pathways
    in our body and brains.

Mind and body link
  • Some of these nerve pathways lie outside the
    brain in nerves of the body and spine.
  • These need to be trained by physical training.
  • Many of the pathways, however, lie within the
  • These pathways can be effectively trained by the
    use of mental techniques such as imagery and

Mind and body link
  • For everything you think in your mind, your body
    has a reaction, regardless of whether it is real
    or imagined.
  • For example, have you ever had a bad dream?
  • Usually, you will wake up and your heart is
    racing, you are sweating and very agitated, even
    though all you were doing was sleeping.
  • But, in your mind there was something bad going
    on and your body was reacting to it.

  • Heres another example if you are home alone and
    you hear a noise and interpret it as the wind,
    you are fine but if you interpret it as a
    prowler, your fight or flight response takes over
    and you become fearful, your heart begins going a
    mile a minute, your eyes dilate and you are
  • These are just a few examples of how strong the
    connection is between your mind and your body.

Sport Psychology (SP)
  • Scientific study of behavior, affective, and
    cognitive reactions to sports settings for both
    participants and fans

  • Understand the effects of psychological factors
    on physical and motor performances (how does
    anxiety affect free-throw shooting)
  • Effect of participating in physical activity on
    psychological development, health and well-being
    (does running reduce anxiety)

Role of sport psychologist
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Writing for major academic journals

History of SP
  • First study was done by Norman Triplett in 1898
  • International Society of SP was formed in 1965

Why study psychology for sports?
  • The difference between elite athletes finishing
    in first or sixth is sometimes as little as
    two-tenths of a second.
  • During these types of sports (100 yard dash) and
    others, psychological advantages can be the
    difference between winning and losing.

Why study psychology for sports?
  • Competition is tight, athletes are physically
    fit, and the margin for victory is slim.
  • Managers, coaches and players are realizing that
    to get ahead they need an added resource, and
    that resource is a trained mind.

Why study psychology for sports?
  • When there are two teams that are physically
    equal, it is the team that works together
    smoothly and is mentally prepared and confident
    that will come out on top. Keep in mind, though
    no mental training will compensate for
    ineffective technique.
  • You need to be strong, technically and mentally.

Buzz words and theories
  • Motivation direction and intensity of ones
  • Self efficacy belief you can perform a certain
  • Instinctual theories behavior is motivated by
    innate predispositions
  • Drive theory behavior is motivated by biological

Buzz words and theories
  • Task goals gain skill, do your best for personal
  • Ego (outcome) goals preoccupied with the
    demonstration of superiority compared to others
  • Arousal physiological state of readiness
  • Stress non-emotional response to an
    environmental demand

Buzz words and theories
  • Eustress stress viewed positively
  • Distress stress viewed negatively

Psychological skills training (PST)
  • The act of practicing mental and psychological
  • Lack of
  • Time
  • Conviction
  • Follow-up

Myths of PST
  • They are for elite athletes only
  • They are for problem athletes only
  • They are a quick fix solution
  • Not useful

How to implement PST programs
  • Who a sports psychologist or coach
  • When In off season or pre-season
  • How long should training last 10-15 minutes 3-5
    times a week

Stress and athletic performance
  • The increased stress of competitions can cause
    athletes to react both physically and mentally in
    a manner which can negatively affect their
    performance abilities.
  • They may become tense, their heart rates race,
    they break into a cold sweat, they worry about
    the outcome of the competition, or they find it
    hard to concentrate on the task at hand.

  • Imagery is the process by which you can create,
    modify or strengthen pathways important to the
    co-ordination of your muscles, by training purely
    within your mind.
  • Involves all senses visual, kinesthetic,
    auditory, tactile, moods and emotions

  • Imagery affects cognitive tasks the best (what
    type of sports would this work best on/in)
  • Helps both novice and experienced performers, but
    somewhat more for experienced athletes
  • Imagery should be used with physical practice
  • You can manipulate your images so they do what
    you want them to do

When you can use imagery
  • An athlete is injured, and cannot train in any
    other way
  • The correct equipment is not available, or
    practice is not possible for some other reason
  • Where rapid practice is needed

When you can use imagery
  • When you are physically tired, or do not want to
    tire yourself before a performance
  • Before or after practice and games, or during
    breaks in the game

Imagery guidelines
  • Relax
  • Include all senses
  • Cover all aspects of your event
  • Practice it in real time
  • Practice from an internal perspective and through
    your own eyes

Implementing Imagery
  • Initially start using only 5 minutes of imagery a
    day, perhaps when you have just got into bed, or
    when you wake up in the morning.
  • The number of minutes can be expanded as time
    goes on typically many champions will do 15
    minutes/day, although this may go as high as 1
    hour/day just before a major competition.

Implementing Imagery
  • Similarly, start using imagery in a quiet,
    relaxed environment in which there are few
  • Slowly experiment with using it in increasingly
    disturbed situations until you are comfortable
    with using imagery in the most distracting
    environments such as high level events.

Watching elite athletes perform
  • Imagery and simulation can be used effectively in
    improving technique, particularly when used in
    conjunction with close study of the technique of
    high level performers in your sport.
  • By selecting athletes whose performance you
    admire in a particular exercise, and either
    watching or video-taping them executing
    technique, you can see how they execute every
    stage of a skill.

Watching elite athletes perform
  • Using a video recorder you can slow the action
    down so that the components of the skill can be
  • Once you have done this you can practice these
    components of the skill being observed, and can
    build them up into a complex action or a good
    image of the skill as it should be executed.

What imagery can do for you
  • Imagery allows you to practice and prepare for
    events and eventualities you can never expect to
    train for in reality.
  • It allows you to pre-experience the achievement
    of goals.

What imagery can do for you
  • This helps to give you confidence that these
    goals can be achieved, and so allows you to
    increase your abilities to levels you might not
    otherwise have reached.
  • Practicing with imagery helps you to slow down
    complex skills so that you can isolate and feel
    the correct component movements of the skills,
    and isolate where problems in technique lie.

What imagery can do for you
  • Imagery can also be used to affect some aspects
    of the 'involuntary' responses of your body such
    as release of adrenaline.
  • This is most highly developed in Eastern mystics
    who use imagery in a highly effective way to
    significantly reduce heart rate or oxygen

  • Simulation is similar to imagery, but is carried
    out by making your physical training
    circumstances as similar as possible to the 'real
    thing' - for example by bringing in crowds of
    spectators, by having performances judged, or by
    inviting press to a training session.

  • In many ways simulation is superior to imagery in
    training, as the stresses introduced are often
    more vivid because they exist in reality.
  • However simulation requires much greater
    resources of time and effort to set up and

Buzz words and theories
  • Self-fulfilling prophesy what you think will
    happen, will happen
  • Ringlemann effect individual performances will
    decrease as the amount of people participating
    increase (examples)

  • Benefits of self-confidence are increased
    concentration, effort and emotions
  • Optimal confidence just right
  • Lack of confidence self-doubt creates anxiety,
    causes indecisiveness
  • Overconfidence may cause you to prepare less

Goal Setting
  • How it works
  • Creates attention and focus
  • Provides an incentive to reach
  • Affects psychological factors such as anxiety,
    confidence and satisfaction

Goal Setting 101 (again)
  • Specific goals
  • Challenging but realistic goals
  • Long term and short term goals
  • Set practice and competition goals
  • Set individual and team goals
  • Arrange for support (from others, how?)

Common problems in goal setting
  • Convincing people to set goals
  • Failing to set specific goals
  • Failing to adjust goals

The 4C's
  • Concentration, confidence, control and commitment
    (the 4C's) are generally considered to be the
    main mental qualities that are important for
    successful performance in most sports.

The 4C's
  • Concentration - ability to maintain focus
  • Confidence - believe in one's abilities
  • Control - ability to maintain emotional control
    regardless of distraction
  • Commitment - ability to continue working to
    agreed goals

  • This is the mental quality to focus on the task
    in hand.
  • If the athlete lacks concentration then their
    athletic abilities will not be effectively or
    efficiently applied to the task.

  • Research has identified the following types of
    attention focus
  • Broad Narrow continuum - the athlete focuses on a
    large or small number of stimuli
  • Internal External continuum - the athlete focuses
    on internal stimuli (feelings) or external
    stimuli (ball)

  • The demand for concentration varies with the
  • Sustained concentration - distance running,
    cycling, tennis, squash
  • Short bursts of concentration - cricket, golf,
    shooting, athletic field events
  • Intense concentration - sprinting events,
    bobsleigh, skiing

  • Common distractions are anxiety, mistakes,
    fatigue, weather, public announcements, coach,
    manager, opponent, negative thoughts etc.

  • Strategies to improve concentration are very
  • One way to maintain focus is to set process goals
    for each session or competition.
  • The athlete will have an overall goal for which
    the athlete will identify a number of process
    goals which help focus on specific aspects of the

  • For each of these goals the athlete can use a
    trigger word (a word which instantly refocuses
    the athlete's concentration to the goal) e.g.
    sprinting technique requires the athlete to focus
    on being tall, relaxed, smooth and to drive with
    the elbows - trigger word could be "technique"

  • Athletes will develop a routine for competition
    which may include the night before, the morning,
    pre competition, competition and post competition
  • If these routines are appropriately structured
    then they can prove a useful aid to

  • Confidence results from the comparison an athlete
    makes between the goal and their ability.
  • The athlete will have self-confidence if they
    believe they can achieve their goal. "You only
    achieve what you believe.

  • When an athlete has self confidence they will
    tend to persevere even when things are not going
    according to plan, show enthusiasm, be positive
    in their approach and take their share of the
    responsibility in success and failure.

  • To improve their self confidence, an athlete can
    use mental imagery to
  • visualize previous good performance to remind
    them of the look and feel
  • imagine various scenarios and how they will cope
    with them

  • Identifying when an athlete feels a particular
    emotion and understanding the reason for the
    feelings is an important stage of helping an
    athlete gain emotional control.
  • An athlete's ability to maintain control of their
    emotions in the face of adversity and remain
    positive is essential to successful performance.
  • Two emotions which are often associated with poor
    performance are anxiety and anger.

  • Anxiety comes in two forms - Physical
    (butterflies, sweating, nausea, needing the
    toilet) and Mental (worry, negative thoughts,
    confusion, lack of concentration).
  • Relaxation is a technique that can be used to
    reduce anxiety.
  • When an athlete becomes angry the cause of the
    anger often becomes the focus of attention.

  • This then leads to a lack of concentration on the
    task at hand, performance deteriorates, and
    confidence in ability is lost which fuels the
    anger - a slippery slope to failure.

Competitive Anxiety
  • Occurs when the athlete becomes tense or anxious
    before a game or competition.
  • This has led coaches to take an increasing
    interest in the field of sport psychology.

Competitive Anxiety
  • That interest has focused on techniques which
    athletes can use in the competitive situation to
    maintain control and optimize their performance.
  • Once learned, these techniques allow the athlete
    to relax and to focus his/her attention in a
    positive manner on the task of preparing for and
    participating in competition.

Anxiety reduction techniques
  • Breathing control (NBA)
  • Progressive relaxation tension then relaxation
  • Meditation quieting the mind (Mantra- something
    to focus on)

  • Sports performance depends on the athlete being
    fully committed to numerous goals over many
  • In competition, the athlete will have many
    aspects of daily life to manage.
  • The many competing interests and commitments
    include work, studies, family/partner, friends,
    social life and other hobbies/sports

Within the athlete's sport, commitment can be
undermined by
  • a perceived lack of progress or improvement
  • not being sufficiently involved in developing the
    training program
  • not understanding the objectives of the training
  • injury

Within the athlete's sport, commitment can be
undermined by
  • lack of enjoyment
  • anxiety about performance - competition
  • becoming bored
  • Coach/athlete not working as a team
  • lack of commitment by other athletes

  • Setting goals with the athlete will raise their
    feelings of value, give them joint ownership of
    the goals and therefore become more committed to
    achieving them.
  • Many people (coach, medical support team,
    manager, friends, etc) can contribute to an
    athlete's levels of commitment with appropriate
    levels of support and positive feedback,
    especially during times of injury, illness and
    poor performance.

This is the end, the end, the end, the end