Sports Psychology Training - How Athletes Outwit Opponents

Sports psychology is a growing field primarily because athletes are always looking for an edge to help them succeed. But at many levels of athletic endeavor, the talent across the line is similar from a physical point of view. How then, does the modern athlete achieve peak performance? They do it by incorporating elements of psychology into their game.

Here are four ways that athletes utilize psychology within the lines of play.

Intimidate their opponents. You’ve seen it at the beginning of boxing matches, or during the jump ball at a basketball game: players staring each other down in the hope that the other guy will blink first. This is not simply an act of machismo. Intimidation is a form of sports psychology where the individual will attempt to damage an opponent’s self-esteem, thereby throwing them off of their game. A scream after a slam dunk, an aggressive gesture or even an end-zone dance are all forms of intimidation (and ones that could easily earn someone a technical foul or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty).

Shut out distractions. Personal problems, noisy opposing fans, serious hangnails and other distractions don’t mean a thing to the mentally trained athlete. The ability to focus only on the task at hand is one of the primary forms of sports psychology employed by the best of the best. To the athlete who has achieved sports excellence, there is nothing but the game and the opponent. This high level of clarity helps dispel myths about home-court advantage or the nervous behavior such as the “putting yips” in golf.

Boost their self-esteem. Athletes psych themselves up in a variety of ways, but one of the most common simply occurs when they convince themselves of their own greatness. It is not strange to see an athlete standing in front of a mirror before a big game repeating that "they are the greatest” or that “nobody is going to beat them today.” By boosting self-esteem in this manner, athletes are invoking a self-fulfilling prophecy in which they come out on top every time.

Outwit their opponents. Sometimes to be successful in a sport, be it basketball, badminton or chess, an athlete has got to stay several steps ahead of their opponents. That’s why great athletes use their mental prowess to consider what their opponent is going to do next, and prepare the appropriate response ahead of time. Sometimes, these back-and-forth reactions occur in the blink of an eye, but in fast moving contact sports, that can be all it takes to gain the advantage.

Visualize success. It is often said that great athletes can see the game unfolding before it actually happens. This sounds like they can predict the future, but really it is just one of the hallmarks of effective sports psychology: the ability to visualize success. Athletic achievement is often accomplished before the individuals take the field, especially for those who understand the importance of visualizing a game plan, and focusing enough to make it happen.

Moonview Sanctuary works with top amateur and professional athletes every day to help them achieve optimal performance. Through the ground-breaking sports psychology of The Optimal Peak Performance programs, Moonview takes athletes to the next level by showing them how to utilize the mind and the spirit as complements to their tremendous physical gifts. For more information, contact Moonview today.

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