In sports today, training doesn’t end once you hit the showers. Sports psychology or mental training is now an expected component of any training regime. But whereas we usually turn to psychology or therapy when something goes wrong, in sport psychology it is needed even when everything is going right. And it doesn’t involve lying on a couch, either. Sports psychology is about moving and also about thinking about moving. It can be applied to a variety of disciplines and team sports where the players are moving around the pitch in their Football Kits from kitking.co.uk or other similar stockists.
How Can Sports Psychology Help?
The usual goals of mental training are improving confidence, improving focus, enhancing motivation and creating more adhesion and feelings of team identity. However, it can also be used to enhance sport-specific technique acquisition. This is because we need to think in order to do something but often misinterpret this command during performance.
Muscle memory is the term psychology uses to describe the actions performed unconsciously by a range of athletes. Whether it’s a gymnast performing a backflip on a balance beam or a rugby player throwing a ball into a lineout, they are concentrating on the action but not specifically on the muscles’ actions. This is because muscle firing is unconscious. If we want to lift a finger, we lift a finger – we don’t think about engaging our shoulders or forearms too.
In technique acquisition using mental training, the processes of our actions are concentrated upon to achieve more and learn to do something more quickly. A good example of this is in visualization – imagining the drop kick a hundred times to improve the single time it is performed. These kinds of techniques require lots of practice in order to use them successfully.
However, not all mental training needs to be so focused. Studies show that when we watch others perform a move successfully, our unconscious bodies recreate the move, and this can help our performance.
There’s no getting around it: team sports are thinking player’s sports. Intelligence and conscientious practice will improve a player’s and team’s performance. Sports psychology is key to improving self-esteem and confidence, but these elements also come from performance improvement being achieved. Passive mental training is therefore an excellent way to reap the benefits of sports psychology without adding to the off-field commitments of your players.