Sport Psychology Basics

Sport Psychology Is Vulnerable to Over Complication. Let’s Get Back To Basics

Sport Psychology Basics

I am a big fan of keeping things as simple as possible at any time, but especially at the start of a new year. With this in mind, this first blog post of 2023 is a shorter one and is designed to remind all of us – practitioners as well as clients – of some of the fundamentals that can be forgotten.

There are three fundamental questions that arguably once answered can summarise any profession. Why do you choose to do what you do? Who do you work with? What do you actually do with them?

Below, I will endeavor to address each of these questions and finish up with some very simple sport psychology tips. As always comments and questions are welcomed via the section at the bottom of this article.

Sport Psychology Basics; Why Do You Choose To Do What You Do?

Firstly I appreciate that many people don’t actually choose to do the work that they do. I’m thinking about the single parent who takes on a second job packing shelves to make ends meet. But certainly, I choose to do the work that I do. My experience and training would now allow me to pick from a considerable number of jobs. And it is not uncommon for me to be contacted by recruitment agencies asking if I would be interested in work related to psychology.

So what is it about my role at Condor Performance that means that I don’t even take a look at the details of these kinds of offers? One of the biggest reasons is that it feels like we are really making a difference now. Not only in terms of the quality of our consulting but also the sheer amount we are doing now. The current size of our team allows us to get a lot more work done compared with most of our competitors.

With our friend and colleague David Barracosa in charge of the smooth running of the day-to-day operations, it allows me much greater flexibility. I can now focus on building new relationships and content clarification in a way that would have been impossible a few years ago.

The Second Reason …

The second reason why I continue to choose my work at Condor Performance over other jobs is that I still love the vast majority of my working time. Maybe it’s because of how important I know the fun factor to be. I always ensure that the work that I am doing a Condor Performance is highly motivating. Writing this blog post and the vast majority that are published through the Mental Toughness Digest might not be many sport psychologists’ cup of tea. But I love it. Writing really lends itself to my strengths. I have unlimited ideas and passion when it comes to sport psychology. From sport psychology basics to the most complicated aspects of the profession.

Work-Life Balance

It also helps me tremendously with the all-important work-life balance. I can tap away – as I’m doing now – at any time of day or night. This flexibility is key when you have bitten off more than you can chew. Furthermore, it acts as practice for one of our most exciting future projects. A number of sport-specific mental toughness training guides are in the pipeline, most of which will have a written version initially. Watch this space.

Sport Psychology Basics; Who Do You Work With?

When answering this question it might be better for me to answer on behalf of the entire Condor Performance team. For I myself now work with only a very small percentage of our overall clients. Still to this day, the majority of our one-on-one clients are athletes. This should come as no surprise when the first word of the profession is the word ‘sport’. Non-sporting performers, sporting coaches, and sporting officials make up the rest. By non-sporting performers, I’m referring to students, medical personnel as well as those in the military for example. These non-sporting performers have correctly worked out that the mental skills required by an elite athlete to perform consistently at the top are very much the same as would help them in their profession.

Probably the most exciting group of individuals who have shown real interest in what we do over the last few years are sporting coaches. These are often highly qualified and highly motivated individuals who have identified that their training was potentially lacking in evidence-based applied psychology. Much of the work we do with sporting coaches is as a mentor with little or no direct involvement with their athletes. If you are a sporting coach, and you’d like to learn more about having a qualified sport psychologist or performance psychologist in your corner then start by completing our MTQ-C here.

In terms of the athletes that we work with individual sports still dominate over team sports. In other words, we are more likely to be contacted by a golfer than a water polo player. The range in ages and professional levels is truly vast. We work with 8-year-olds through to 80-year-olds. We work with athletes ranked inside of the Top 10 of their sport right through to the amateurs who just want to win their club championship.

Sport Psychology Basics – What Do You Do With Them?

Again I am answering this question on behalf of the team rather than just myself. Despite the fact that our methodology has evolved over the past 20 years there are still some very common core ingredients. I have listed these below in bullet point form and I invite you to consider the benefits if you were guided by a professional in adopting all or some of them. If you think you would be then get in touch and request info about our 1-on-1 sport psychology services.

1. Focus mainly on the process (effort) and let the results (outcomes) take care of themselves.

2. Try to concern yourself much more with anything you have a lot of influence over – such as your actions – rather than factors you have little or no influence over – such as thoughts.

3. Avoid only working on your weaknesses. Improve your strengths as well.

4. Don’t underestimate the impact that overall mental health can have on performance. But also don’t confuse mental health with the mental aspects of your sport or performance area.

5. The number of ways to improve is unlimited, but the time you have to improve is very limited. So learn to prioritise.

6. Fake It Til You Feel It. Basically, work on your body language regardless of how you’re feeling. Try and look confident more so than trying to feel confident.

7. “Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it”. Quote borrowed from Baz Luhrmann.

8. Learn to visualise and then do it regularly.

9. If you don’t already, start a training diary/journal.

10. Learn to breathe properly. An entire blog post is currently being written on this topic. If you don’t already get notifications when new articles are added to our website then add your details here.

Author: Gareth J. Mole

Gareth J. Mole is an endorsed Sport and Exercise Psychologist. He is the founder of Condor Performance and co-creator of Metuf™. He lives between Canberra and Sydney (Australia) with his wife, their two children and their fourteen chickens.

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