Some athletes seek the help of a sports psychology professional when they have a problem. They might become anxious or lose focus during competition, for example. They might have trouble communicating with teammates, controlling their temper or even just motivating themselves to exercise. Or they might choke at key moments during a game.
But athletes don’t just seek help when they’re having difficulties. Sports psychology can also help athletes:
Enhance performance. Various mental strategies, such as visualization, self-talk and relaxation techniques, can help athletes overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential.
Cope with the pressures of competition. Sport psychologists can help athletes at all levels deal with pressure from parents, coaches or even their own expectations.
Recover from injuries. After an injury, athletes may need help tolerating pain, adhering to their physical therapy regimens or adjusting to being sidelined.
Keep up an exercise program. Even those who want to exercise regularly may find themselves unable to fulfill their goal. Sport psychologists can help these individuals increase their motivation and tackle any related concerns.
Enjoy sports. Sports organizations for young people may hire a sport psychologist to educate coaches about how to help kids enjoy sports and how to promote healthy self-esteem in participants.
Sports psychology can even help people off the playing field. The same strategies that sports psychology teaches athletes — relaxation techniques, mental rehearsals and cognitive restructuring, for example — are also useful in the workplace and other settings.