Australian Coaches – Sport Psychology

Sport Psychology is the application of psychological
principles to the sport environment. By developing athletes’ psychological skills and their
mental health they can better manage the sport environment, better manage their emotions
and get a lot more out of their sport experiences. Goal setting is a set of skills required to
identify specific long and short-term targets and evaluate progress within a specific timeframe.
Regularly setting and evaluating performance goals can help athletes to focus, stay motivated
and feel more in control. Effective goals are those that are: Written down, Specific,
Include long, short-term, and training goals, Include observable or measurable elements
such as times, reps or percentages, Challenging but realistic and Reviewed. Evaluating goals
is a really important part of goal setting. It provides athletes to feel a sense of achievement
and confidence but also provides athletes the opportunity to analyse their performance
and identify areas to be refined in the future. Reviewing my goals helps me by letting me
see if I’ve achieved them and if not, looking at what I have to change. During pressure situations an athlete’s
ability to manage their own emotions is really put to the test. In tight situations athletes
can experience high levels of nerves or even anxiety or panic. These negative emotions
can be experienced physically through sweaty palms or increased heart rate but also mentally
through racing thoughts and an inability to focus on the task. Obviously, these effects
can be detrimental to performance. Emotions, or the way we feel, is largely dependent upon
how we interpret situations. In a situation where an athlete is feeling anxious or panicked,
typically their thinking is irrational and focused on something catastrophic occurring
in the future. If an athlete is extremely upset or disappointed with poor performances
and this feeling continues for an extended period, typically they are exaggerating the
significance of the performance. An effective method to manage negative emotions such as
anxiety or enduring disappointment is to identify what athletes are telling themselves during
times of stress. Athletes need to make sure their thinking is grounded in reality and
represents the ‘big picture’. Coaches can assist athletes to manage their
emotions by: Discussing their ‘self talk’, Reinforcing successful past performances,
Promoting realistic thinking, Avoiding irrational thinking when stressed, Helping athletes develop
a pre-performance routine to gain control over their emotional state. Okay Rodney, I know today was the focus you
were going to work on the run up – the technique, just getting the rhythm. Yep as long as focus, getting take-offs right,
yep, should be good. In wrapping up, I want to reinforce that no
matter what level of sport you’re coaching, these strategies work. Ask yourself these
questions: What are some examples of goals that athletes in your sport might set? These
might be outcome, performance or process goals. How could you assist an athlete who is struggling
to cope with disappointment?

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