The psychologist is met with mixed emotions in professional sport. Some coaches and athletes meet the psychologist with an open mind while others remain sceptical. This article puts forward some potential explanations to explain this mixed response, and presents a strategy to overcome this. Commentary on this topic can also be explored on the Mindsport Blog
The psychologist in sport
Many mainstream sports overlook the importance of learning to master the mind.
While physiotherapists are used to prepare the athlete’s body, sport psychologists should abe used to prepare the athlete’s mind.
The mind is just another muscle that needs to be exercised.
By applying the techniques and tools that a sport psychologist has, athletes are able to create a mindset that is conducive towards success.
Unfortunately some athletes refuse to embrace the advice and the support that the sport psychologist has to offer.
I don’t believe that these athletes have a problem with the information, but with the way it is presented. Here are three reasons why?
1. Out of context
Usually the sport psychologist will conduct sessions outside of the sporting environment.
Traditionally meetings are held in an office, an environment that many athletes are unaccustomed to learning in.
Learning is context dependent, which is why mental skills training should take place in the sporting arena where athletes works best.
2. Listening to someone that has never played sport
Often the psychologist does not have the experience of playing sport at a high-level. Some athletes find it difficult to listen and take the advice of someone that has usually never played there sport. Rapport is usually built upon similarity, and often the psychologist and the athlete are worlds apart, making it hard to develop a healthy level commonality.
3. Not enough time
It is rare for the sport psychologist to get more than 2 hours a week with each athlete. Consequently it becomes very difficult for the athlete to habituate the techniques and strategies presented by the psychologist during their time spent together.