Sports Psychology & Its Importance

Sports Psychology

The mind is absolutely instrumental in achieving results, even for athletes. Sports psychology is a very small part, but it’s extremely important when you’re winning and losing races by hundredths and even thousandths of a second.” Micheal Johnson 

Psychology is a study of mind and behaviour and it has its applications in various facets of life and branches out in many different directions . When we talk about psychology and its branches, many come to our minds ranging from Clinical psychology, Cognitive psychology, Developmental psychology, Health psychology, Neuropsychology and lots more. 

But there is one more field, named SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY, which was not tapped upon until a few years ago and is gaining its recognition and significance in the present. As more and more professional teams and sportsmen are understanding the importance of mental factors in sports and seeking psychological guidance, the branch of Sports Psychology is expanding and growing with time. 

Sports psychology is a field that focuses on how psychological processes influence athletic performance. It investigates and studies the role of the mind and mental variables in developing athletic abilities and performance. Sports psychology deals with understanding how sports people think, feel and behave in different sporting situations, what situations trigger fear, anxiety or pressure, what mental processes help facilitate their performance, what practices improve their motivation and confidence,

comprehending how sportspersons react and respond to stressful training sessions and competitions etc. 

A sports psychologist acts as a facilitator for a sports person’s performance. During the course of an athlete’s career he or she faces many different circumstances which may invoke lots of different emotions like fear, hopelessness, anxiety, performance 

pressure, inferiority complex, disappointment,helplessness, and many others that tend to burden the player and negatively impact their performance. These emotions can really get to a player’s mind where he or she feels that there is no way out and starts to question his or her abilities and strengths. 

Just as a coach works on the technicalities and skills of a player, a fitness instructor on the physical aspect, a sports psychologist has also a very key and vital contribution of attaining holistic development and improvement of players by strengthening and working on the mental factors.

IMPORTANCE OF SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY 

  1.  Sports psychology has really been a hot topic in the recent present, players at the peak of their performance and even the players striving towards their goal lean towards psychology to facilitate their performance and increase their chances of success. 
  2. Psychological strength and control can really be the differentiating point between a successful and a struggling athlete. The way a player conducts himself or herself mentally before, during and after the competition has a lot of significance.
  3.  There are many unnoticed and ignored mental aspects which are very important in terms of achieving your goal. Sports psychology is a foundation which taps upon those unrecognised aspects and works towards them.
  4. Confidence building, stress management, effective teamwork, motivation enhancement, all of these are steps that make up a ladder for success. Due to lack of awareness of these intricacies, all these factors have not been given importance and much weightage. 

“Physiologically, you may be fine but mentally fatigued athletes find the same task much more effortful” (Dr. Samuele Marcora) 

The above quote gives us a glimpse of how our performance is a by-product of how we are mentally at that point of time, what our mental conditioning is irrespective of the physiological condition. If we take an example of two players competing against each other with the same sets of technical skills and physical fitness, it all comes down 

to how well the player manages his or her emotions and handles stressful situations. One may win just because of how calm, composed, collected and fearless he or she was. While the other may be so mentally fatigued that he or she loses mental control and strength to face the task at hand.

 Sports psychologists help athletes progress and improve their performance by working psychological variables affecting their performance. They implement and design a variety of activities and strategies accustomed to specific players depending on their needs and requirements. They use visualisation and imagery, positive self talk, many breathing and meditative exercises, and lots of other techniques as a part of their sessions. 

 Sports psychologists aim towards helping athletes cope challenging situations that they come across in their journey, be it returning to the field from a massive injury leading to self doubt, be it coping from successive failures, be it maintaining composure after a big win and working with the same focus and dedication, be it waking up every morning and kick starting the day with motivation and aim, be it handling the pressure stemming from performing in front of a large audience. 

Therefore, Psychology plays a very important role in sports. It has now become almost mandatory to throw spotlight on sports psychology and consider it as a necessary and inseparable part of a player’s journey.

Blog by an Intern, Ms. Mahika Dixit

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      Dass 21 Questionnaire

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      1 (s) I found it hard to wind down.

       

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      2 (a) I was aware of dryness of my mouth.

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      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      3 (d) I couldn’t seem to experience any positive feeling at all.

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      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      4 (a) I experienced breathing difficulty (e.g. excessively rapid breathing,
      breathlessness in the absence of physical exertion).

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      5 (d) I found it difficult to work up the initiative to do things.

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      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      6 (s) I tended to over-react to situations.

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      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      7 (a) I experienced trembling (e.g. in the hands).

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      8 (s) I felt that I was using a lot of nervous energy.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      9 (a) I was worried about situations in which I might panic and make a fool
      of myself.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      10 (d) I felt that I had nothing to look forward to.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      11 (s) I found myself getting agitated.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      12 (s) I found it difficult to relax.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      13 (d) I felt down-hearted and blue.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      14 (s) I was intolerant of anything that kept me from getting on with what I
      was doing.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      15 (a) I felt I was close to panic.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      16 (d) I was unable to become enthusiastic about anything.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      17 (d) I felt I wasn’t worth much as a person.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      18 (s) I felt that I was rather touchy.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      19 (a) I was aware of the action of my heart in the absence of physical
      exertion (e.g. sense of heart rate increase, heart missing a beat).

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      20 (a) I felt scared without any good reason.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      21 (d) I felt that life was meaningless.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
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      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

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      Locus of control

      A big question we all feel - am I in control of my life?

      This test helps you ascertain the degree of control that you believe  you have over your life and the events that occur. This belief plays a huge role in the satisfaction levels that we feel.


      /10

      1 / 10

      Is there some bad habit, such as smoking, that you would like to break but can’t?

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      3 / 10

      Do you believe that your personality was firmly laid down in childhood so there is little you can do to change it?

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      Do you make your own decisions, regardless of what other people say?

      5 / 10

      Do you find it a waste of time to plan ahead because something always causes you to change direction?

      6 / 10

      If something goes wrong, do usually reckon it’s your own fault rather than just bad luck?

      7 / 10

      Are most of the things you do designed to please other people?

      8 / 10

      Do you often feel you are the victim of outside forces you cannot control?

      9 / 10

      Do you usually manage to resist being persuaded by other people’s arguments?

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          How do You Cope with Anger?

          (The Behavioural Anger Response Questionnaire, BARQ)

          What do you most likely to do when you experience anger? This 34-item measure assesses your anger responses for children and adolescents – and may tell you which response you tend to favour when experiencing this strong, unpleasant emotion. A list of statements are provided below. State whether each of the statements are not true, sometimes true, or often true. This measure was developed specifically for children and young adolescents.


          /34

          1 / 34

          I say something nasty to the person who made me angry.

          2 / 34

          I use strong gestures (for example, make a fist, wave my arms, or give a hand sign).

          3 / 34

          I swear or curse, at the person who made me angry.

          4 / 34

          I hit or push the person who made me angry.

          5 / 34

          I express my anger by slamming a door, or hitting something.

          6 / 34

          I shout.

          7 / 34

          I wait until I am calm again and then talk to the person who made me angry. 

          8 / 34

          I carefully think it over and then tell the person who made me angry how I feel.

          9 / 34

          In a calm voice, I tell the person who made me angry how I honestly feel.

          10 / 34

          I try to understand what happened, so I can explain things to the person who made me angry.

          11 / 34

          I stay calm, and I try to talk about the problem and the person who made me angry. 

          12 / 34

          I leave the situation in order to calm down, and then try to solve the problem.

          13 / 34

          I do not show my anger but I talk about what happened with someone afterwards.

          14 / 34

          I leave the situation and look for someone who will agree with me.

          15 / 34

          I leave the situation, find someone to listen to my story, and ask for advice. 

          16 / 34

          I think about the problem first and then talk about it with someone.

          17 / 34

          I leave the situation and call a friend or family member to tell him/her how I feel. 

          18 / 34

          Even without planning it, I usually end up talking about my feelings with someone.

          19 / 34

          I get rid of my anger by playing music, writing, or painting. 

          20 / 34

          I just keep busy, until I stop feeling angry.

          21 / 34

          I work off my anger by doing some sport. 

          22 / 34

          I stay on my own to get rid of my anger.

          23 / 34

          I simply get very busy with other things to get rid of my anger.

          24 / 34

          I work off my anger by doing something else, like playing on the computer.

          25 / 34

          I tell myself that what happened is not important.

          26 / 34

          I try to forget what happened.

          27 / 34

          I put what happened out of my mind.

          28 / 34

          I do not want to have to cause trouble, so I keep my feelings to myself.

          29 / 34

          I just wait to feel better.

          30 / 34

          I try to keep busy so I can forget about what happened.

          31 / 34

          I keep thinking about what I wish I had done, but didn’t do.

          32 / 34

          I find it hard to stop thinking about what happened.

          33 / 34

          I am upset for a long time after this kind of situation.

          34 / 34

          In my mind, I go over the situation that made me angry again and again.

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          Are You Kind to Yourself?

          (The Self-Compassion Scale – Short Form, SCS-SF)

          Are you kind to yourself, and accepting of your personality? Self-compassion relates to your ability to ‘hold one’s suffering with a sense of warmth, connection and concern (Neff, 2003). This ability consists of self-kindness, self-judgement, the view that others suffer too (common humanity), feelings of isolation from others when one fails, as well as mindfulness towards one’s difficult situation and the extent to which one over-identifies with failure. This 12-item measure assesses your self-compassion ability. Simply answer each statement from ‘almost never’ to ‘almost always’ to indicate the extent to which you engage in these behaviours during difficult times of challenge and setbacks.


          /12

          1 / 12

          I’m intolerant and impatient towards those aspects of my personality I don’t like.

          2 / 12

          I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies.

          3 / 12

          When I feel inadequate in some way, I try to remind myself that feelings of inadequacy are shared by most people.

          4 / 12

          When I’m feeling down I tend to obsess and fixate on everything that’s wrong.

          5 / 12

          When I fail at something that’s important to me, I tend to feel alone in my failure.

          6 / 12

          When something upsets me I try to keep my emotions in balance.

          7 / 12

          When I’m going through a very hard time, I give myself the caring and tenderness I need.

          8 / 12

          I try to see my failings as part of the human condition.

          9 / 12

          When I’m feeling down, I tend to feel like most other people are probably happier than I am.

          10 / 12

          When something painful happens I try to take a balanced view of the situation.

          11 / 12

          I try to be understanding and patient towards those aspects of my personality I don’t like.

          12 / 12

          When I fail at something important to me I become consumed by feelings of inadequacy.

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          How Mindfully Aware and Attentive are You?

          (Mindful Attempt Awareness Scale; MAAS)

          Being mindful means being consciously, deliberately attentive towards your present circumstances and environment, and being curious and non- judgmental towards the thoughts and emotions that arise as a result of one’s situation. This 15-item measure of mindfulness, called the Mindful Attempt Awareness Scale (MAAS) is designed to assess how mindful you generally are.


          /15

          1 / 15

          I could be experiencing some emotion and not be conscious of it until sometime later.

          2 / 15

          I break or spill things because of carelessness, not paying attention, or thinking of something else.

          3 / 15

          I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present.

          4 / 15

          I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I experience along the way.

          5 / 15

          I tend not to notice feelings of physical tension or discomfort until they really grab my attention.

          6 / 15

          I forget a person’s name almost as soon as I’ve been told it for the first time.

          7 / 15

          It seems I am “running on automatic” without much awareness of what I’m doing.

          8 / 15

          I rush through activities without being really attentive to them.

          9 / 15

          I get so focused on the goal I want to achieve that I lose touch of what I’m doing.

          10 / 15

          I do jobs or tasks automatically, without being aware of what I’m doing.

          11 / 15

          I find myself listening to someone with one ear, doing something else at the same time.

          12 / 15

          I drive places on “automatic pilot” and then wonder why I went there.

          13 / 15

          I find myself preoccupied with the future or the past.

          14 / 15

          I find myself doing things without paying attention.

          15 / 15

          I snack without being aware that I’m eating.

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