From the TED talk show, Sports psychology - inside the mind of champion athletes: Martin Hagger at TEDxPerth, Martin Hagger explains what sports psychology is and how champion athletes use it to win. Athletes have different approaches to sports psychology. Hagger gives an example of Usain Bolt, Usain uses a comedy antic before starting any race, while Michael Phelps sits down and listens to music before the event. The approaches are different, but they are all effective since they build on the psychology of the athletes. On the other hand, overconfidence can lead to failure in competitions, for example in the 2012 Olympics, the final soccer between Mexico and Brazil. The Brazilians were over-confident that they were going to win, while the Mexicans played knowing that they had nothing to lose. In the end, Mexico won the Olympic title. These examples show how psychology plays a role in winning; sports psychology can also be used to get back on track after losing.
Motivation & Confidence- Sport and Exercise Psychology
Sports psychology entails both the mental health and well-being of athletes; it is used to assist them in reaching their highest potential in their performance. Confidence in sports psychology is the athletes' internal belief that they will be successful (Weinberg & Gould, 2011). A confident team believes that they can win a game; an athlete is confident if he/she believes that they can make a shot. Confidence is one of the basic requirements for success in any sport, but over-confidence and arrogance can be detrimental to progress.
A confident person knows that he can be successful, but he has to put the necessary efforts required to win; he knows that he should be ready for action. Arrogance, on the other hand, implies no action. An arrogant athlete believes that they have already won, they think that by showing up at the event, success will come automatically; this is not the case. Over-confidence is when somebody has too much confidence about his ability; this is evident when an athlete thing that he has all that it takes to win. The confidence goes to the extent of undermining the strengths of the other competitors.
Factors Influencing Confidence in Sports
1. Self-Image and Confidence
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you view yourself as a person who can accomplish something good? Self-image has to do with how one views him/herself. People perceive themselves in different ways; there are those who regard themselves as significant people; they believe that they can do anything. On the other hand, some people view themselves as less fulfilling beings; they think that they do not have what it takes to achieve something good (Ikulayo 2003). Good image plays a very crucial role in influencing confidence and in return one can perform much better.
2. The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Most people have their expectations; the expectation here is not from somebody else but oneself. Our expectations can influence our confidence and the effort we put in trying to achieve our dreams. People live up to their expectations; those with more expectations have more confidence than those with fewer expectations. Others expectations may also influence the performance of a person. When people expect more from somebody, they treat them differently, and this improves their confidence. When people expect failure from somebody, they treat that individual as a failure, and this has a negative influence on their performance. It is essential for leaders, teachers, and coaches to treat those they are leading with high expectations.
People have different levels of belief in their ability to succeed in a given task. A person's belief in their ability to succeed in a particular task is what is referred to as self-efficacy(Weinberg & Gould, 2011). An example of self-efficacy is where a runner believes that he can finish a race. Self-efficacy is very efficient in sports; this is because it plays a vital role in influencing the performance.
Importance of Sports Psychology
Through sports psychology, athletes are motivated and taught how to engage in positive talk, i.e. 'I will win this race' and 'I am a wonderful player' before the event. Sports psychologist also teach on how to visualize positively, for example, an athlete can be trained on how to imagine while they are winning a game.
Reduction of Stress
Athletes can reduce stress and anxiety before a game through techniques taught in sports psychology; this can be achieved through deep breathing exercises and meditation (Vipene, 2005). Listening to music is another technique used in reducing anxiety and pressure that can be from a coach, family, friends or even the sports organization.
Recouping after Injury
Sports psychology plays a significant role in helping a player during and after an injury. Sports psychologist motivate athletes and assist them in maintaining consistency in the appointments and the prescribed exercise (Ikulayo 2003). Meditation also helps athletes to relieve pain.
Some athletes have doubts about their capability; this can be very detrimental to their performance. Having confidence is essential as an athlete; through sports psychology, athletes are equipped with the crucial skills that help in elevating their confidence levels (Vipene, 2005). Confidence gives one the winning mentality, and this is essential.
Equipping With Skills to Cope With Setbacks
Self-control is essential in all games; some athletes find it hard to go back to their normal condition after they lose. Athletes with high expectations find it very challenging when they go through some troubling moments (Hemmings, and Holder, 2009). It is essential to address these setbacks and to enable the athlete to stay on the right track
Errors Athletes Make Regarding Their Confidence
Focusing on 'Feeling' Confidence. Some athletes talk about confidence all the time, like " I don't feel confident about this game" or " I feel confident I will win this game." It is essential to know that talking about confidence will not help; one cannot feel it; this is because confidence is a belief; this means that it is a thought.
Some Athletes Leave Confidence to Chance. Nothing happens by chance; this means that confidence cannot come on its own. As an athlete, you should improvise some measures that are going to increase your confidence before any competition.
Failing to Understand the Source of Confidence. Different things bring confidence to different people; this means that it is essential for all athletes to understand what motivates them and take advantage of it.
Some athletes try to build confidence from the top down. The best strategy for developing one's confidence is starting from the bottom. Again, it is not appropriate to try and build overall confidence; this will most likely fail (Hemmings, and Holder, 2009). It is essential to building a solid foundation first going up.
Applying the Learned Techniques in Nursing
Confidence is an essential factor in all professions, sports psychology teaches how to be confident, these techniques can also be used to create confidence in nurses, and this will improve their performance. It is also wise to admit one's mistake. A confident person should be ready to admit his mistake; this will help in correcting and improving the next time. A nurse cannot build confidence or improve on performance by covering up. It is essential to accept your mistake and learn from it and correct. Reduction of stress, sometimes, nurses can overwork and this creates anxiety and stressful conditions, by applying the techniques of sports psychology, they can reduce stress and perform better. These techniques also help in improving performance; nurses can also find the things that motivate them and use them to improve on their performance.
Sports psychology has an immeasurable contribution to the performance of athletes. It is essential to make it a part of the daily routine for all athletes. Athletes should understand the benefits that come from confidence and know how to employ them in improving their performance. Positive attitude and mental toughness are critical factors in all sports. The coaches should also understand their role when dealing with the athletes; this is because they also have a role to play in improving the confidence of the athletes.
Hemmings, B. and Holder, T. (2009). Applied sports psychology. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Ikulayo (2003). TheMindin the Body: Sports Psychology as the cornerstone to Sports achievements and greatness. Lagos: University of Lagos Press.
Vipene, J. B. (2005). Introduction to Psychological Foundations of Education. Port Harcourt: Harey Publications Co
Weinberg, R., & Gould, D. (2014). Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology 6th Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
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