What is Sports Psychology?
Sports Psychology is the study and application of psychological principles to assist sports players in achieving and maintaining their goals. It covers aspects such as reducing pressure, developing presence of mind, improving performance, etc by developing mental skills. It also involves the study of a player-coach relationship, team relationship and so on.
As a former National level medalist and Khelo India Youth Games participant in Rhythmic Gymnastics, I realised the need for mental health in sports. I have witnessed players who practice so well but when the time comes to perform in a competition they are unable to give their best and they end up losing the match.
How can Sports Psychology benefit athletes?
While preparing for a competition, simple psychological skills too can help athletes manage their competitive performance environment. Some of these skills include:
1) Relaxation skills, e.g., progressive relaxation, slow controlled and deep abdominal breathing and autogenic training.
2) A mastery of all the different attentional styles or types of concentration.
3) Both kinesthetic and visual imagery.
5) Development of pre-computation mental routines that they should follow prior to their competition on game day.
In addition to this, this field also deals with injured athletes who experience at least three different emotional responses commonly: frustration, isolation and disturbances in mood. The techniques employed in sports psychology helps the injured athlete cope more effectively with these emotional responses and help prepare the athlete to get back to their sport and games.
Indian athletes and Sports Psychology
In September 2019, Harmanpreet Kaur, the Indian Women Cricket team captain in T20, urged BCCI to appoint a psychologist for the team. “Nowadays the pressure is high. You need someone to discuss things with when they are not fine,” she stated at a press conference. Even players who are preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, like shooter Manu Bhaker requested the Sports Ministry to hire the services of sports psychologists to prepare themselves better.
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