What is sports psychology? Learn the secrets of a booming discipline

Sports psychology: a profession to discover and in full swingAs more and more clubs and athletes take into account the psychological aspect when planning their training and their goals.

Today we will explain to you what the discipline of Sports Psychology is based on, its methods and objectives, as well as other data of interest to understand this discipline which aims to improve the performance and experience of athletes. and teams.

Sports psychology: what does it consist of?

There is no country in the world where some kind of sport is not practiced. Thousands of articles have been written on the benefits of playing sports, whether amateur or professional, and how this regular practice relates to both physical and mental health.

A sedentary life with some excess (tobacco, alcohol), added to the lack of sporting activity they often lead to serious health problems, so it seems a good idea to seriously consider playing sports as a guarantee of physical, mental and emotional health.

A little history of sport

Sport is considered to be any regulated activity associated with competition, involving the physical and mental part of the person.

Sport and its disciplines have been practiced for millennia. It is known that the first to engage in regulated physical activity were the Greeks in the 700s BC The ancient Persians were not far behind and were the first to play at the pole in the sixth century BC. Sports activity has always been closely linked to human development and their societies, which employed physical activity for relaxing and beneficial purposes, or as a means of survival in certain social conditions, as happened with slaves in ancient Rome.

Today, with all the technology we have, it is almost impossible not to be aware of what is happening with the big sports stars of the time in competitive sports who enjoy greater coverage. in the mass media, such as football, tennis, basketball, the Olympics. gymnastics, Formula 1, etc. This particular media presentation of sporting activity results in a great influence on the perception of the masses on sport in general, through the expectations of great athletes generated on the basis of certain values ​​and images.

The human need to play sports

The human being is characterized by an incessant search for knowledge and know-how, and sport has gone from being just entertainment to being fully studied by the science of sport, The mission is to unravel all kinds of questions about the influence of exercise on body and mind, when it is not the same competitive sport that is analyzed in order to discover rules to improve performance.

It is for this reason that one branch of the many that exist in psychology was created with the aim of deepening sports activity and its interaction with the psyche, founding the well-known sub-discipline as Sports psychology.

Psychology applied to sport: a new and vital discipline of knowledge

Nachon and Nascimbene (2001), in their book Introduction to Sport Psychology, perfectly define the field of study and the objectives of sport psychology:

“Sports psychology is the science dedicated to studying how, why and under what conditions athletes, coaches and spectators behave the way they do, as well as to studying the mutual influence between physical activity and participation. to sport and psychophysical well-being, health and personal development “.

The work of the sports psychologist

It is often mistakenly believed that the main (if not the only) function of the sports psychologist is to motivate athletes, And / or be responsible for containing and trying to channel those athletes with the worst temperament.

However, the job of a sports psychologist is to know both the psychological phenomena experienced by the athletes, as well as the specific character and personality of each athlete and the sporting context, in this way. perform a series of structured techniques that optimize athletic and psychological performance of the player or team. Most professional teams benefit from the services of a professional in sports psychology, performing the aforementioned functions, thus collaborating with the coaching staff in the functioning of the team.

Sports psychology has come a long way in some European countries and the United States, the state having contributed the most to the development of theories regarding sports and its influence on the psyche (and vice versa).

Fr Latin AmericaThe story is very different in terms of the development of the sub-discipline of sports psychology. This specialty is only just beginning to take its first steps, and it will be necessary to continue research in order to develop schools and theories capable of finding new paradigms and of contributing to the construction of content and knowledge in this field.

The delay vis-à-vis the old continent and the United States is motivated by the indifference and ignorance of the Latin American sports and political authorities, who until recently kept these lines of scientific research in total obscurity. .

The way of working and intervening in this branch of psychology has its peculiarities compared to other specialties, although many claim that there are many similarities with clinical psychology, Due to the topics on which the two are trying to influence (motivation, personality), although it would be daring to link them too much and in the areas of study and intervention are very different.

  • To better understand what a sports psychologist does, we invite you to read “10 reasons to put a sports psychologist in your life”

The importance of having a sports psychologist on the team

The roles and tasks of the sports psychologist can be extremely complex if he does not show an ability to meet ambitious challenges. Hence the need to also master the mental health aspect of the professional in charge of competitive groups in team sports. It is also an area that falls under the responsibility of sports psychology.

The importance of having a sports psychologist has been demonstrated when working with high performance sports groups. (Silva, J., 1984). In this sense, it has become almost indispensable in any sport or discipline. As for the king of sport in most Spanish-speaking countries, football, it is known that every year clubs and teams from all continents compete not only on the playing field, but in a number of areas. Intellectuals, communication, group management and talent detection and development, with the sole aim of going beyond what was achieved the previous year in the field of sport.

Coinciding with the wording of this article with the World Cup dispute in Brazil, I can not miss the opportunity to point out that each of the national teams manages a certain policy, the command is the federation of each country, which is responsible to follow the championship minute by minute in order to then be able to carry out the respective analyzes and thus obtain conclusions on how to improve in the future the different facets that influence the national combined gamel: strategy, direction, tactics, team dynamics, selection, motivation …

Knowing how to choose the right people for each specific role on the playing field within a team is as complex as it is decisive. Opinions and assessments, criteria and decisions should preferably be taken unanimously by both the executive group and the staff in charge of the group. Among them, including the sports psychologist, who must provide nuance on the mood of the players, their fears and their motivations at every moment of the competition.

In particular, I believe that behind optimal performance in the performance of an athlete on the playground, there is a sports psychologist who does the job effectively and professionally, manages to build confidence and plays the keys to ideal mental health. It is necessary to continue to support this specialty in order to obtain developments to reach sports groups that are cohesive, self-fulfilling and in turn a source of collective well-being, both within elite and amateur teams, and insisting on the need for a sport psychology for the basic categories.

Bibliographical references:

  • Fabre, F. (2006), Interview by the Ibero-American Association of Sports Psychology
  • Nachon, C. and Nascimbene, F. (2001), Introduction to sports psychology
  • Silva, J. (1984) Personality and Athletic Performance: Controversy and Challenge. In J. Silva and R. Weinberg

Leave a Comment