by Aahana Khemani
“Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior, according to the American Psychological Association.” Writes Dr. Saul McLeod. “Psychology is a multifaceted discipline and includes many sub-fields of study such areas as human development, sports, health, clinical, social behavior and cognitive processes.” Dr. McLeod continues. The major goals of psychology include describing behaviour, explaining behaviour, creating predictions relating to how we think and act, and last but not least, change and influence behaviour in order to create constructive and lasting changes. As one can conclude from these goals and this procedure, psychology is a very scientific field which also has a connection with logic and presence of mind. Psychology is the art of mind and behaviour, and applies to multiple fields. One of these fields is sports. Psychology plays an immense role in sports. As we know, sports is about determination, passion, effort, and such of the sort. Therefore, psychology relates to not only the physical aspect that goes into sports, but even the mindset and behaviour that is an enormous element of sports.
“Sport Psychology addresses the interactions between psychology and sport performance, including the psychological aspects of optimal athletic performance, the psychological care and well-being of athletes, coaches, and sport organizations, and the connection between physical and psychological functioning.” Writes Psychology Today. Sports psychology covers a range of topics, some including attentional focus, visualisation and goal setting, motivation and team-building, coping with anxiety, and rehabilitation. For athletic achievers, having a well-rounded and positive mindset around sport psychology can take them a long way.
How do we know if sports psychology is successful? Apart from case study’s conclusions proving psychological preparation has an impact on athletes performances, successful and renowned athletes such as Michael Jordan cite psychological preparation needing to be successful as being 80% of the game. Additionally, studies have figured that psychology in sport performance contributes around 45 and 48%, but when psychological variables are adjoined, the percentage rises to approximately 79% and 85%. Olympic Beach Volleyball Player Kerri Walsh Jennings says in regards to mental control, “There is something so simple about owning your thoughts and being aware of the fact that my mind is racing, let me bring it back to center—that is a big deal. It’s helped me a lot on my focus and endurance.” Through studies and statistical evidence, through experience and experiential evidence, we can see what a large role psychology has in sports, and how successful it has been previously, in the present, and how it should continue to do so.
Examining the life of an athlete, and the competition pressure, the supporters pressure, the pressure to do well, is extreme. The stress of nailing their sport correctly, and playing well, is indefinite. However, psychology has contributed in ways unimaginable. Psychology, if explained accurately, could take a footballer to a tennis player, a wrestler to a gymnast. It could and can prevent disasters. Therefore, having psychology to help an athlete understand determination, patience, and such of the sort, is extremely important. So, in conclusion, we know that psychology has a great impact on sports, and athletes. However, it can be extremely handy for everyone, whether you are a student or a teacher, a doctor or an engineer!