Myths about Sports Psychology in India

What do Sport Psychologists do? Majority of the players ask this question regularly. The lack of awareness over Sport Psychology is due to the lack of exposure to Sport Psychologists in India. Since, there are a few qualified Sport Psychologists in the country and plenty of athletes, this has led to non-availability of Sport Psychologists for majority of the Indian players. Here are some commonly perceived myths over using Sport Psychology Services! 

Athletes who go for Sport Psychology are mentally weak!This is one of the most common statement when you ask players about the use of Sport Psychology services. It is certainly not true as many elite athletes like Roger Federer, Sachin Tendulkar, Tiger Woods who are quite mentally strong still seek the Sport Psychology services on a regular basis. The purpose of going to a Sport psychologist is to improve and practise the mental skills which is required by athletes to succeed in addition to practises on physical aspect of the game.

My coach is my Sport Psychologist! Majority of the players consider their coach as their sport psychologist. Coaches are well-equipped to handle matters including the technical and tactical aspects of the game. Of course, coaches play an important role in supporting the player in developing their competence level of the game. Sport Psychologists are qualified in working on training the players over psychological skills as opposed to technical or physical aspect of the sport. Athletes are more successful when they work with a support team including Sport Psychologist, Nutritionist, Physiotherapist and a Strength & Conditioning trainer along with the Coach and Parents.

Sport Psychologists provide a quick solution to the problems!I won’t say Sport Psychology is a quick fix to the concerns at hand. It requires practise and persistent effort, just like physical practises to achieve that level of success in psychological skills.Players work hard for years to reach the level of an elite player. At a young age, they start practising the physical skills through regular coaching, investing hours of practises on the field developing their physical, technical and tactical skills throughout the years in a particular game. But, the psychological aspect is often ignored from a young age, which is often realised by the athletes in the later stages when they face certain performance issues. Some prominent players like Roger Federer has been using sport psychology services since the age of 17.Japan’s Kei Nishikori had experienced an improvement in his performance by using Sport Psychology services, making him stronger psychologically.

Only Elite Players go to a Sport Psychologist!Not Really! Sport Psychology services benefits every level, gender, age or sport. Coaches and Parents also benefit from these services.  

When everyone is practising as hard as they can in an academy together, having similar physical skills, then why is one performing better than the other? The difference in mental skills like confidence in one’s abilities, concentration, emotional regulation, ability to handle pressure, rebound ability after setbacks, rehab from injuries, ability to handle success/failure, ability to handle aggression while playing/training, motivation level of the athlete are all factors which play an important role in success of an athlete and his/her overall development in general life. A good level of self-awareness as well as understanding is incredibly important along with focus, determination, and having the ambition and drive to be the best.

Due to availability of numerous facilities for world class training everywhere and loads of competition around, it all comes down to how effectively a player handles his/her situations at hand. In the end, I would like to say that a healthy body resides in a healthy mind.

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