By Lorraine Pelley

If you are an Olympic Games fan, more specifically, an Olympics ice skating fan, then you are probably like me and thousands of other people who became instant admirers of Canada’s super couple, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  Are they or aren’t they a couple was the question on many social media pages and news feeds the moment the power skating duo first took to the ice to dazzle us with their grace, talent, and magic.

In response to the ongoing query, Tessa responded by saying that what they had was “so much better”. She went on to reveal that part of their success was due to seeing a sports psychologist.  For those who have never heard of sports psychology before, it is the science that studies the psychological factors that affect an athlete’s participation in their sport. Many professional athletes see a sports psychology practitioner to improve their game.

Sports psychologists look at all the internal and external issues that can affect an athlete’s performance including their emotional state, past or current injuries and their rehabilitation, their relations with others, team dynamics, and any major life changes such as relationships or other career transitions. They work with the athletes, coaches, team, and family members to help the sports player reach their goals.

The field was first introduced by Coleman Griffith in 1925. Known as America’s first sport psychologist, Griffith was a professor at the University of Illinois who completed the first research and application of this field. He first studied basketball and soccer players, observing their reaction times, muscle tension and relaxation patterns and overall mental awareness. Since then, sports psychology has been used by many athletic to improve their feats.

These skilled practitioners are not only helping elite athletes, many amateur, young, and Masters Athletes are seeing them as well. In the field of sport, there are many benefits to seeing an industry trained psychologist including:

  • Reduce the risk of mental health issues related to the high pressures of being a public figure by teaching effective coping mechanisms;
  • Teach transferrable skills that can be used in their personal and professional lives;
  • Stay motivated to maintain a regular fitness routine;
  • Overcome obstacles that can affect mental and emotional health such as public pressure, team changes, moves, retirement, personal injury, and other major events;
  • Help players move to the next level of their sport by teaching effective goal setting techniques, relaxation skills, imagery, and self-talk;
  • Improve over all performance in their game;
  • Educate athletes on how the brain and body work together and how to positively manage their emotions effectively to reach peak performance.

Sports psychology is not a short-term fix as it has many long-term benefits.  It is not exclusive to top athletes only, anyone wanting to develop a consistent workout routine, improve their game and life, can gain from seeing a reputable sports psychologist. It continues to help many Masters Athletes who strive to reach their peak potential.

Have you seen a sports psychologist? At The Sports Masters, we would love to hear your stories. Please feel free to share your experiences in our comments section or community forums.

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