Today in sports athletes endure many mental and physical obstaclesfrom there competitive environment. Many of today’s best athletes workwith sports psychologists to help them handle the pressures found in thiscompetitive atmosphere. One question that athletes ask is, why cant theyplay in big games as well as they anticipate themselves doing? Sportspsychologists feel that spending all their time on body conditioning andathletic skills will not ensure that athletes reach their peak performance. Through various studies, psychologists conclude that the psyche aspect mustalso be in shape to maximize the performance potential in sports as well aseducation or running a business corporation. Psychologists conclude thatby fine-tuning athletic skills, and making real-life movements moreautomatic, it will install a sense of calmness as athletes prepare for thepressure of competition.
They call this technique guided imagery. Theyuse this technique for the mental aspect of fundamental skills. Psychologists recommend that athletes mentally practice their events on theeve of competition. When it comes to sports, the winning edge throughout the world ofsports may have less to do with strength and talent, and more to do with,what sports psychologists call it, mental toughness. Sports psychologistsJames Loehr, calls mental toughness, the ability to handle and even enjoythe psychological pressure of a competitive situation. (Harry Hurt, 1996,p.
12) Many of today’s best athletes seek help from sports psychologists, inorder to help them with their overall game. Negative thoughts and psychological pressure from competitivemoments; create many distractions for athletes who do not focus mentalpictures in their minds. A vivid picture, is one that allows individualsto see stress and negative thoughts as a challenge, rather than a threat. Psychologists assist athletes in coping with many obstacles that mightoccur, so that when they get in a pressured dilemma, they can react quicklyto the situation.
Prior to the 1992 Olympics sports psychologists JamesLoehr, spent a considerable amount of time mentally preparing Jansen’s mindto set high goals, so that he wouldn’t repeat failure, as he experienced,in the last two Olympics. (Harry Hurt 1996, p. 12)Psychological pressure has a major effect on athletes’ performanceand individual ability, rather than the physical state. Psychologist triesto set high standards for athletes to maintain poise and discipline. Athletes must make sacrifices, in witch they have to follow steps in orderto complete these tasks: first, relax, and let your mind replace all thenegative thoughts with positive ones.
Secondly, learn from mistakes andmake adjustments. To achieve ultimate physical performance it is necessaryfor one’s mind and body work in tandem. The mind is a message center thatallows the body to accomplish whatever it wants. Coaches and psychologistsbelieve your mind determines, how fast, you can achieve your goals. Psychologists feel as though, with out self-confidence in yourself, nothingreally matters, because in your heart and mind, your have alreadyclassified your self as a failure!In Today’s field of work, sports psychologist are trying to usedifferent techniques to improve athletes’ performance.
After comprehensiveresearch and development, psychologists came up with the followingfindings: first, athletes who view stressful situations as a threat,produce hormones and chemicals in their body that can impair physical andmental performance. (Harry Hurt, 1996 p. 12) Second, athletes who meet as achallenge create a rush of adrenaline and sugar inside their body. According to medical sources this is called a natural high, which isresponsible for athletes exceeding in their performance.
Additionally,James Loehr believed that, the findings mentioned above are difficult toperform, but players that develop self-discipline to commit themselves todo it right, succeed in the sports world, as well as life in general. Musicians, actors, professional business executives, sprinters, andathletes are different in terms of their size, quickness, thinking ability,movement and other characteristics associated to this group. To besuccessful James Loehr has several techniques that are implement into theirdaily activity that will make them very successful. According to all hisresearch, it all comes down to is, being able to do these things techniqueson constant bases and one performance will be far better than the averageperson will.
These techniques will provide the ingredients, in order toallow their brain to clearly see the task before them. The first technique used by many psychologists is called, replacethe pain. Athletes in various sports often get depressed and discouragedbecause of the different aspects of their athletic skills that they cannotaccomplish, because of fatigue or pain. To overcome these obstacles sportspsychologists have athletes visualize long term goals. Psychologistsbelieve that using these techniques athletes will be able to replace thepain and not dwell on the negative aspects. Yukelson states You shouldhave a strategy ready to replace the pain, and if so you can often make itenough so you don’t end up dwelling on it.
(Megan Gorman, 1997 p. 46 ;47)The second technique used for athletes to remove mental andphysical pressure during competitive situations is a method called,Stretch your mind as well as your body. Athletes in today’s society areeither suffering from tension or nervous build up. Through heavy research,sports therapists have found out that athletes who have experienced recentlife stress are more likely to be injured on the playing field. Overlystressed athletes are less to observe potentially harmful objects in theirperipheral vision and more likely to concentrate on irrelevant cues.
Moreover anxious athletes who get so excited before games build up tensionor get more nervous as time progresses. They tend to simultaneously tenseopposing muscles, leading to tiredness and injury. Sports psychologistsrecommend relaxation before big games. According to Ray Palmer, The morerelaxed Athletes are the more open their mind can be, and the more focusedthey can be on their goal. (Megan Gorman, 1997, p.
46)One thing that helps the mind and body relax is belly-rising, ithelps calm an individual and fill their blood with oxygen. Long distancerunners use belly-breathing to relax the mind and body and calm themselvesdown. An example of this is when the runner is about to stop he or sheshould take deep breaths, and blow out long and hard thus allowing therelaxation and refocus the mind on the running. This method is calledExplosive exhale.
The third technique is called Reframe the run, it is used to setaside adversities or pain. For instance, to help runners achieve a 12 milerun psychologists tell the runner to divide the task into four three-milesegments. In the first segment design and build a dream house in your mind,in the second segment decorate inside the house, third landscape theoutside, and fourth move in. This concept allows the runner to remove thepain and replace it with pleasure. Doing this allows the runner to runmuch faster with less difficulty.
The Next technique that sports psychologist use is Live in themoment. Few athletes realize the effect a positive attitude has on a game,a positive attitude helps athletes stay completely focused, and it helpsthem from worrying about whether or not their performance level is at therepeak or not. Athletes must stay In the moment, if athletes keep this inmind they will accomplish any goal that they encounter. Doing so buildsconfidence using self-talks. Living in the moment also allows the athleteto remove the negative thoughts as well as bringing in the good. The final technique is called Visualization.
By creating amental picture of the task the brain can develop the situation within thebrain creating awareness before it actually occurs. Thus having thispicture in place, your mind will have better control over your emotions. This makes it much easier to control their performance. These mental techniques, which psychologists have prescribed forathletes allow them to reach the peak of their athletic performance. Thesetechniques help athletes visualize images before they occur, find effectiverelaxation system and set realistic goals, so that they can achieve them.
My overall viewpoint of this complex and growing concern in theworld of sports as it relates to pressure versus achievement can only beaccomplished through the utilization of mental exercise. A high-carbohydrate diet, and systematic self-brainwashing to achieve a maximumperformance. A considerable amount of athletes at are utilizing thepsychological service of sports therapists, in order to balance the area ofachievement. Mental training has been proven to help in many aspects oflife not just sports. As an Athlete myself I can testify for the psychologist that evenwhen I practiced for hours on end with out being in the right mental mindframe I was not on top of my game. Also I noticed that when I was mentallyprepared for a game even if I had not practiced my skills as much that weekI still performed very well during that weeks game.
But I also noticedthat when I practiced during the week visualized myself hitting the winninghomerun or striking the last batter out and than was able to relax beforethe game, I play my best and others notice it to. In closing, people such as, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and BillClinton, are some of many individuals participating in differentoccupations, with different skill levels, faced with ongoing crisis thatare daily. Maintaining a solid sub-conscentious mine, they were able toachieve maximum potential and results. It takes all of these componentsoutlined in this report to accomplish the objectives.
However, all wereable to control the mental aspects that enable them to achieve higher goalsthan the average person in today’s society, through this educationalprocess of self therapy.Anatomy and Physiology