In the bad old days, psychology was just for wimps on the lookout for excuses to justify poor performance. But these days, it’s an essential part of every serious athlete’s armoury – as crucial to success as training, recovery, kit, hydration and nutrition.
That’s why we make no excuses for devoting an entire special report to this most elusive and personal of sports-related topics. Prepared almost entirely by Sports Performance Bulletin’s resident sport psychologist Lee Crust, the report ranges over a wide swathe of psychological territory, from goal setting (much more than New Year resolutions) to confidence building (confidence being a cause rather than an effect of good performance); from imagery (an all-sensory experience encompassing and surpassing visualisation) to ‘flow’ (that wonderful sense of being in complete control of your game); from individual performance profiling (to build on strengths and buttress weaknesses) to team cohesion (a prerequisite for success).
We also home in on how to make your thoughts and emotions work for you rather than against you, and consider the potential impact of psychological factors on the risk of sports injury. The overall message is that training your psyche can actually make a better athlete of you. You may not believe it now, but the articles that follow should start to convince you that there is more to peak performance than a well-honed body. And I suspect that once you start using some of the intensive exercises contained within the articles, you’ll experience such benefits that you won’t look back.
I hope you enjoy reading this special report and find it both interesting and useful.
Imagery: Mental drills for physical people:
how recreating all-sensory experience can profoundly affect your performance Lee Crust
Goal setting: One step at a time – how to raise your game by setting smarter goals
Confidence: The majestic self-belief of Jonny Wilkinson – or how expectations can make or break your performance
Performance profiling: A coaching tool for pinpointing strengths and weaknesses, designing training strategies and building better communication with athletes
Flow: For peak experiences in sport, you need to go with the flow
Emotional control: These pre-performance strategies will get a grip on your emotions before they get a grip on you
Team sports: Team cohesion and success: is there really a link?
Thought control: When it comes to doing your best, it’s the thoughts that count
Injury: How much do psychological factors contribute to the risk of injury in sport?
What the scientists say: Choking under pressure
What the scientists say: Bodybuilding dependence – not just a problem for men
What the scientists say: Thought suppression – a paradoxical effect
What the scientists say: How encouragement boosts performance