Sports Psychology is a relatively recent discipline of Sports Sciences which investigates the psychological factors involved in physical activity and analyses the behavior of the people associated with sports. It is well known that the performance in sports nowadays does not depend only on physical training but also on the continuous training of the mind. It is also accepted that in the future the physical differences between elite athletes will be limited and therefore the element that will bring great performances for some individuals and Olympic medals will be the psychological one.
Characteristics of Modern Sports.
The Sports Psychology is developed in recent years even more. It is developed due to the psychological issues that the modern sports are continuously facing and the need to deal with these issues. Some of those issues are:
- The increasing number of participation in sports, which leads to the increased number of talented athletes which leads to increased competition.
- The continuous breaking of Olympic and World records - which occurs also because of the use of Scientific Sources such as sports psychology and Technology.
- The increased competition, because all of the athletes have similar if not the same qualities.
- The heavy training programs that the athletes need to implement compared to few years ago when 2-3 hours of training per day were more than enough. Today, there are athletes who train 8 hours a day!
- The pressure that the athlete feels (especially in Cyprus) from her/his social life - especially from school responsibilities, friends and family which do not allow her/his to find inner peace.
- The involvement of the athletes in their sports from a very young age which can also create problems (such as burnout).
- The athlete is representing not just himself nowadays to competitions but also his club and country. Her/his performance therefore can be affected from her/his responsibility towards these factors.
The role of the Sports Psychologist
To help the individuals understand their 'self as an athlete.
To learn how to work and communicate better with their parents and coaches.
To help the athletes on navigating their sport career.
To prepare the mind of the athlete for an upcoming challenge.
To help the athlete concentrate so she/he 'Can Enter The Zone'.
To help the athlete bounce back from set-backs.
To help the athlete increase motivation and drive.
To teach the athlete how to handle stress and pressure.
To help the athlete handle the Paradox of Success.
With the kind permission of Elena Avraam