Becoming professionally involved in sport is much more than developing your strength, maximizing the speed of reflexes or learning a lot of theory about the sport to which you devote a large part of your life.
It is also, among other things, knowing how to take care of oneself physically and mentally, and develop skills from which it is possible to live thanks to effective preparation habits.
Therefore, in this article, we are going to do a brief review of the advantages it has, from the point of view of elite athletes, of learning to live in an organized manner and to apply the principles of order in their daily life.
Why is it important to lead an orderly life in the face of the demands of elite sport?
It is not only a question of knowing the training schedules and the rules of healthy living (physically) imposed by the sports club, the sponsors and other entities involved in the professional career of the athlete.
Beyond this formal version of what is meant to be an orderly life, there is a whole series of guiding principles on which healthy lifestyles and effective preparation are based (both physically and psychologically).
Ignoring them is not just exposing yourself to health complications in an environment where hard work can lead to a lot of wear and tear; moreover, it produces a disadvantage against other athletes who take advantage of their ability to establish habits and routines consistent and adapted to their goals and talents. And that, in such a competitive field of sport and professional development, is a double problem.
Corn… What exactly do we mean by living an orderly life and where stability prevails? It is not about carrying the existence of a robot, not from afar (in fact, ignoring the emotional side of the athlete is a very serious mistake in the psychological preparation of a league, a tournament or of a championship).
It is about being aware that if we do not realize and do not have some control over what we do and how we do it during and outside of training sessions, we expose ourselves to many situations that cause us to waste time and health, and we lose many opportunities in which we could win on both fronts.
For example, adopting a series of routines that are psychologically adapted to your sporting characteristics and goals makes it possible to:
- Learn to temporarily distribute the incentives that allow us to motivate ourselves as athletes, aspiring to climb an increasing curve of difficulty.
- Don’t fall into the trap of “covering up” stress with bad habits
- Don’t get into procrastination (that tendency to say “I’ll do it tomorrow”) and know when it’s best to do everything.
- Don’t overdo it with workouts and have the opposite effect.
- Improve the ability to concentrate on sports activities through good management of moments of rest.
- Have memorized the appropriate spatial and temporal references to know at all times what to do and which activity to play immediately after.
These are all areas of work which, as you can see, they do not adhere strictly to what is generally understood as physical preparation, and which are completed by this one.
What can psychology bring to this?
Psychological therapy is not only a means of treating psychopathologies; moreover, it also adapts to the needs of people without significant mental health problems, and among the intervention strategies and techniques included in this area, there are many that are used to help professionals, adversaries, people with creative projects going on… and elite athletes too, of course.
At the end, applied psychology should not be limited to treating psychological disorders; the challenge is to implement all the discoveries and technical advances generated in this field of science to help as many people as possible. Therefore, many of the psychotherapy services offered are aimed at supporting people with very stressful careers or under high levels of stress and demands.
In the case of psychological assistance to elite athletes, one of the main functions of the psychologist is to help the person to structure the routines and habits so that from this way of life it is possible to support an effective and sustained training program (physical and mental). overtime, without burning the person because of an excess of anxiety but at the same time causing him to always face new challenges.
Some of the ways professional athletes can be psychologically helped in this regard are as follows:
Train self-motivation skills to make training a consistent routine.
Establishment of a trigger action program to make good use of time and organize sequences of tasks.
Learning in the early detection of trap thoughts associated with the onset of a distraction.
Learn to detect dysfunctional behavior in reaction to stress (eating without appetite, biting your nails, etc.).
Creation of training space conditioning routines.
Relaxation training techniques to easily fall asleep.
Learn to spot the signs that it’s time for a mental rest.
Related article: “Action triggers: what they are and how they influence behavior”
Would you like to benefit from professional psychological assistance?
If you would like to have the support of a psychologist to help you with any problem related to the management of emotions or behavioral patterns, or simply to request psychological assistance to deal with challenges in the professional field, please contact me.
- Gollwitzer, Peter and Brandstätter, Veronika. (1997). Intentions to effectively implement and achieve objectives. First ad. in: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73, 1, p. 186 – 199.
- LeBoeuf, M. (1979). Work smart. New York: Warner Books.
- Morgenstern, J. (2004). Time management from the inside out: the foolproof system for taking control of your schedule and your life. New York: Henry Holt / Owl Books.
- Nachon, C. and Nascimbene, F. (2001), Introduction to sports psychology. Buenos Aires: EUDEBA.