Why Should Non-Athletes Care about Sports Psychology?

· February 17, 2018

Physical exercise takes both physical and mental effort. It helps children grow up healthy and adults stay in shape, body and mind. But it’s hard to find the motivation, which is where sports psychology comes into play.

You don’t have to be an Olympic medalist like Michael Phelps to understand that “you can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”

Whether you do it to feel better about yourself, because you enjoy it, or because you need it, exercise is important throughout your entire life.

“If you have to jump, jump.”

-Fablehaven, Vol 3-

Why learn about sports psychology?

While learning sports psychology makes the most sense in the professional sports, these tools can be used in different areas of life, too. You’ll soon understand how valuable they can be, even if you don’t play sports.

But first, it’s important to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Then we’ll be able to apply the concepts more effectively.

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation, according to Sánchez-Oliva et al (2010, University of Extremadura), can be defined as the involvement of the individual’s own initiative in an activity. In other words, you do it for the mere satisfaction of participating in the activity.

woman using sports psychology to train better

Along the same lines, in “Training Children in Soccer” (2000, Paidotribo), Sans and Frattarola suggest that intrinsic or internal motivation is useful for improving performance. When motivation comes from within, it satisfies the need to pursue a goal.

Logically, one needs specific knowledge to know when and how to encourage instrinsic motivation in people. What moves them? What are their interests? That way, you can adapt the tasks to their specific needs.

Extrinsic motivation

Now let’s go back to Sánchez-Oliva et al (2010) to describe extrinsic motivation.

This type of motivation arises when the person is seeking some kind of benefit that would contribute to personal growth. However, the reason for performing the action is to obtain an external reward, such as avoiding guilt.

For example, some people practice sports because they were influenced by other people. Performance, attitudes, and motivation vary widely among players and coaches.

All of these factors have a dramatic effect on the improvement of athletic skills. That’s what Cruz Feliu explains in Psychological Advice to Coaches: Experience in Children’s Basketball (1994).

This type of motivation comes from outside the person, imposed by other people. These may be friends, family members, teammates, coaches, etc.

10 reasons to use sports psychology in your daily life

Psychologist and personal trainer Jonathan García-Allen has 10 reasons why you should use sports psychology in your daily life. See what they are and discover their benefits below.

Ideal mental state

Sports psychology allows you to achieve an ideal mental state. In addition to being in shape, you also need mental preparation to physically exert yourself, especially when competing. This is known in the field of psychology as optimal level of functioning.

woman eyes closed arms open

Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement improves self-esteem. It’s also a basic principle in learning psychological techniques and abilities.

Goals

You can use sports psychology to meet your goals. With proper planning and realistic goals, it’s much easier to take the steps you’ll need to get there. This also gives you self-confidence and ups your self-esteem

Group cohesion

Group cohesion is an advantage in team or group sports because it makes groups work better together. If the team is united, it will be better. It improves athletic performance and reduces internal problems.

Self-instruction

Self-instruction can increase motivation and improve skills. According to García-Allen, it can help you get rid of bad habits. It’s also ideal for improving your attention, focusing on your goal, improving performance, and handling the exhaustion exercising causes.

Visualization

Another great reason to implement sports psychology into your life is visualization. Practicing in your mind helps with any anxiety and actually can make you better.

Stress management

Playing sports is a great way to manage stress. While the actual competition part involves stressful situations, in general, an active lifestyle is much healthier.

It helps you to get your to-do’s done more efficiently and it is stress-relieving. It helps you react better to complex situations and reach your goals in all areas of life.

Improves attention

Sports psychology is a great way to improve your attention and performance. All you need is proper emotional regulation, strong concentration, and optimal learning. Only then will you be able to overcome the hardest parts of playing sports.

More productive emotions

Physical activity also fosters more productive emotions. This is because your mental state is a determining factor in how you perform in competitions.

Therefore, it’s important to generate productive emotions that will help you do your best. For this, stay away from anger, disappointment, and fear. Instead, let positivity enter your mind during physical activity.

happy people running

Recovery support

Sports psychology can support athletes when they’re in recovery from injury. It’s very important for athletes to accept the injury and the fact that they’re benched. Professionals do a lot of motivational work in this regard. The result is a better recovery, both physically and psychologically.

“I’m a very positive thinker, and I think that is what helps me the most in difficult moments.”

-Roger Federer-

The work of sports psychology

Notice that it takes a lot of work to incorporate sports psychology into your daily life. But it’s helpful if you want to do your best, whether you’re a pro or a weekend warrior. That said, proper physical training is also necessary to meet your athletic goals.

While physical ability is very important, if it’s not accompanied by emotional, technical, strategic, and psychological training, it can only take you so far.

Mental agility focused in the right direction is also a very important part of athletic pursuits, which is why sports psychology is so useful.

“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.”

-Carl Lewis-