What does it take to make a winning team? In professional sport the psychology of sport is playing a greater role in improving an athlete’s mental attitude and working more cohesively in a team environment.
I was lucky enough to go to the home of English rugby, the majestic Twickenham stadium and be beasted in the gym by three of the England Rugby 7s squad, Phillip Burgess, James Rodwell and Ruaridh McConnochie in a media training session. The players are lithe sprinting machines focused on avoiding injury and keeping the pace to conquer the world in the forthcoming International matches. Rugby sevens is a variant of rugby union in which teams are made up of seven players playing seven-minute halves, instead of the usual 15 players playing 40-minute halves.
Rugby 7s England player, Ruaridh McConnochie said that working with team’s sports psychologist has transformed his game. “The team psychologist has had a huge influence on our performance as a team. It’s about mindset. I am now focussed on how we are work together and how we bond as a team. We are encouraged to be more open about how we feel so that we can concentrate on the game. It has definitely made us work together more cohesively.”
Jeremy Snape is sports psychologist who worked with the England rugby squad. In an article in The Guardian, he said: “I think sport psychology is the final frontier in performance. From the mid-1990s there was a decade of fitness, then there has been a decade of data and analytics, and now the next decade will be about optimising the mindset of players, teams and coaches. It’s a natural progression driven by technology because it’s easier to measure physical attributes, and also, with the negative stigma around getting psychological help, people have been reluctant to reach out. Ironically, when people reach the very top we often hear it was their mental game that led to their success. With so many world champions speaking positively about their mindset training now, it has created a new drive for people to find out what they could achieve.”
Sport psychology is a proficiency that uses psychological knowledge and skills to address optimal performance and well-being of player, developmental and social aspects of sports participation.
Snape summed it up when he said: “The key is to acknowledge and maintain a healthy drive, to put in the work for yourself and your team, and to be hungry to learn as you go. A common theme in the world’s most successful performers is that irrespective of results, they have an insatiable desire to improve.”
If, as a school, you want to improve performance among your own athletes, why not try our 5 top Sports Psychology tips to help foster a winning attitude?
A Good Posture is Important The mind and the body are interdependent. Hold the body straight and the head high, make eye contact, and walk with purpose and energy. The mind will follow suit. Be Positive Negativity in any form drains energy, makes us doubt ourselves, and can make even the best of us lose confidence. Concentrate on the Performance Not on the Result If you think that the outcome is going to be defeat, then you will lose confidence and the motivation to perform. Know Your Game and Study the Game of Your Competition All great players not only know their own game, but they also study how their competitor plays and the strategies that he/she uses. When you’re prepared and armed with knowledge, you’re bound to feel confident! Have Fun! It’s important to have fun in what you’re doing – even in sport. If you don’t, it will affect your game negatively, which will pull down your confidence.
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