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What is Sports Psychology?

Sports Psychology is the study of how to get individual athletes and teams to perform to their best in competition.

Athletes are ever increasing their strength, flexibility and technique given all the sophisticated training methods that are now available. Thus, there are many athletes with similar abilities.

Athletes, parents and coaches, therefore, are looking for a mental edge. Working with a specialist skilled in sports psychology is one way to garner competitive advantage.

As we know, competition can be tremendously exhilarating and also can be very stressful. How athletes handle pressure, given that they have the talent and skills to compete, generally determines the outcome of games.

We have all seen athletes and teams with great athletic ability buckle under pressure. We have also seen less talented athletes and teams excel because they were better able to handle the pressure.

Two years ago, I worked with a boys high school basketball team that went on a 24-4 run with four minutes to play to win its state championship. What the players had to learn was to maintain tremendous focus on task in order to effectively take advantage of the challenges which the games presented. To maintain focus on task, the players had to learn to maintain composure and trust themselves to make the right decisions at the right time.

It's the same with any athlete or team. Those who cannot successfully handle this pressure spend more time worrying and less focusing on the task at hand thus resulting in a lesser outcome.

These trained professionals work with both individual athletes and teams to help them build their confidence, maintain their composure, and learn how to trust themselves to make proper decisions in games. Sports psychology specialists also teach athletes how to work together as cohesive interdependent teams to successfully perform under the duress of competition.

Psychologists who specialize in sports psychology help athletes to uncover the mental blocks that hinder their success and work to create more constructive beliefs and actions that will lead them to greater success.

These specialists can also teach relaxation and visualization techniques that also can help maximize performance. Those athletes and teams who master the mental game will be the most successful.

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