What Does A Sports Psychologist Do latest 2023

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How to Use the Latest in Sports Psychology to Improve Your Soccer Game

A college football player heads the ball into the goal to give his team a one-point lead. With over 20 minutes to go, the players on the team behind are starting to put their heads down. Their body language, slumped shoulders, slow walking, and frustrated and angry expressions convey their temporary lack of resilience. How quickly they can bounce back from that setback is key to their success. Do they give in to their disappointment, let it turn into resignation, and lessen their efforts ever so slightly? Or are they using their anger to stoke the fires of competition and redouble their efforts to score and equalise?

Psychology is beginning to unravel some of the mysteries around sports performance in general and football in particular. This article discusses three recent discoveries in sports psychology and how best to apply them to football.

Focus on game potential, not winning

For example, players who make predictions about who will win the upcoming game enjoy the game less than those who don’t. By predicting the outcome of the game, it creates the possibility of being incorrect and thus leads to the anticipation of regret. This anticipation of being wrong puts more pressure on the player to perform. As we know, too much pressure can push a player out of the zone (where performance is maximized) and into sub-par performance.

A better approach is one of non-attachment where players don’t get too attached to the idea of ​​winning or losing. Footballers can control one thing: their own game. By focusing the team on playing to their best individual and team potential, and decreasing the focus on winning, the team plays football more relaxed and more efficient.

Understand your players for better penalty kicks

Another finding shows that some people are looking for potential gains in general and on the soccer field. Other people devote their efforts to trying to counteract the negative results. Thus, one group seeks to maximize gains, while the other group seeks to minimize losses. Football coaches can identify this tendency in individual players and use it to realize their players’ potential. For example, when preparing players for penalty shootouts, coaches can talk to players looking to maximize gains (usually forwards and some midfielders) and tell them to focus on scoring. On the other hand, coaches can prepare those looking to minimize losses (usually full-backs) by telling them to focus on not missing the shot. These are individualized messages that can cross the shooter’s head while preparing to take the PK, which will increase the likelihood of success in the shootout.

Use mirror neurons to your advantage

Finally, football players get better just by watching world-class players. There is a “mirror system” in the human brain that reacts to the actions we watch, like Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a goal with a heel kick or performing a scissoring motion. This system in the brain has been shown to activate when the individual watches a sport or activity in which they participate. However, the mirror system does not activate for a dancer looking at a footballer. The mirror system only activates for people who have been trained in the particular sport being viewed. We’ve known for over 50 years that visualization is useful for improving sports performance (starting with slalom skiing in the 1950s). Science has just discovered that the brain also learns by observing experts. Although no muscular movement takes place in the observer, the brain acts as if the body reproduces the movements made while watching Ronaldo. The same neural pattern fires when Ronaldo performs a bicycle kick as when the player himself does a bicycle kick. Players may be able to hone their skills during injuries by watching professional football matches, YouTube highlights of their favorite players, and watching live matches.

There are a number of things that psychology can add to sport in general and football in particular. Try incorporating some of these suggestions into your playing or coaching and see the results. Above all, have fun. Football is above all a game!

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