How Sports Psychology Works

psychologyFor many people, participating in any sporting activity is a fun way to stay fit and active. A select few people may have a decent living by playing sports professionally. We cannot all be the same, as I find my pleasure serving client at Abingdon Tow Truck. One interesting sector of sports is sports psychology.

When we talk about sports psychology, it is a branch of psychology which places its focus on how individuals are affected by playing sports. It also deals with ways of improving the mindset of an athlete in order to perform to their level best in their specific sports. A sports psychologist has a good understanding of a person who participates in sports and working on improving their mental preparedness to excel.

 

Importance of sports psychology

Sports psychology is very important as it helps in understanding what motivates an athlete and what makes them perform to their level best. Professionals in the field of sports psychology are very knowledgeable and compassionate on matters that determine the challenges and pressures that many athletes face today. Athletes who take advantage of the advice and counseling that they get from a sports psychologist tend to perform better and have more fulfilling careers.

 

Starting a sports psychology career

To start a sports psychology career, it is important to combine physical education and psychology. There are many colleges and universities that offer certification in this career. Their programs are based on a blend of psychology courses and physical education ones.

 

Working as a sports psychologist

stressAthletes seek help and advice from a sports psychologist to boost their performance. This normally happens when an athlete starts to lose focus on their performance or feels that they have a potential to perform better. An athlete may become overly anxious or lose focus during a competition, prompting the need to seek help from a sports psychologist.

An athlete might also have some problems communicating with teammates, or even controlling their temper. They might also be looking for ways to motivate themselves to reach optimal performance. When a sports psychologist comes along, they may help in many ways including;

Enhancing performance – This happens through various mental strategies. These strategies may include self-talk, relaxation techniques, and self-talk. All these techniques can help an athlete overcome various obstacles and perform to their best.

Another way of helping athletes is in the sector of coping with the pressures associated with competition. These psychologists help athletes to deal with all levels of pressure from their coaches, parents, fans and other expectations.

Sports psychologists help athletes on matters of keeping up with an exercise program. Even the most motivated athletes who would want to work out every day may find themselves unable to keep up with their goals. Sports psychologists come in to help athletes on matters motivation and other related concerns.

Sports psychologists also help athletes recover from injuries. After an injury, an athlete may need assistance in tolerating the pain and adhering to all aspects of physical therapy. Sports psychologists also help athletes to enjoy their sports by promoting healthy self-esteem

Guide to Eating for Sports

nutritionThere are a number of factors that contribute to success in sports and one of them is diet. The diet of an athlete depends on a number of factors including the athlete’s goal, the environment he operates in and other practical issues. Research shows that proper nutrition is key to minimizing injury and optimizing performance for athletes.

When it comes to nutrition, there are three mains issues that must be considered. These include;

 

Carbohydrates

Athletes need glycogen that comes from carbohydrates. Glycogen is a form of energy that is stored in the liver and muscles. It is readily available and highly needed during strenuous activity. When you maximize glycogen prior to exercising helps an athlete to last longer. It also helps in delaying onset fatigue and increasing performance. The recommended dosage should be about 10-12 grams per kg of body weight. It should also be taken about 36 to 48 hours as pre-workout. When you are participating in low-intensity exercises, you do not need a lot of carbs.

 

Hydration

Hydration plays a very vital role when it comes to determining the overall performance of an athlete. When you experience fluid loss that is greater than 2 percent of body weight, it can have a significant impact on your performance. It can lead to impaired neuromuscular control, reduced cognition and pain in muscle joints all this increases your chances of injury. To minimize these risks, you need proper hydration prior to performing in an intense exercise. The normal recommended levels are one ounce of water per pound of body weight.

 

Electrolytes

As an athlete, you need an electrolyte supplement such as Gatorade which are taken along with carbohydrates. It helps in providing a very significant increase in resistance training such as sprint training and bench pressing. It is very important to maintain a balance between the electrolyte and water intake.

Other Considerations

There are other considerations that come into play when it comes to delivering an optimal performance by an athlete. One of these issues is rest time. Rest is very important to ensure an athlete gets enough time for muscles to recover. Most coaches push an athlete to rigorous training so that during the actual sport, it can be easy for them. Training methods and tactics also impact the way an athlete will perform. Ensure that you switch training patterns to be all round and perform to your best during most the challenging times.

Best Strength Training for Athletes

medicine ballsImproving speed and performance should be the goal of every athlete no matter what sport you are involved in. All sports require movement and the only thing in your body that creates movement are muscles. Muscles are attached to bones and are used to create movements. You either have strong and powerful muscles that help you to create quick and powerful movements or you just have weak ones that hinder you from achieving your optimal performance.

All athletes want to promote their strength, agility, speed, balance, and flexibility. There are top exercises that can help you develop your strength and conditioning as an athlete. Top exercises include;

 

Compound movements

You need to practice compound movements incorporating accommodating resistance. You must train your body to achieve explosive speeds. You can train the body using a series of bands and chains. These tools allow you to control your acceleration and deceleration by the use of moving loads. When used correctly, it can help to increase your strength.

 

Medicine Balls

The greatest advantage of medicine balls is that when used in a large open area, these balls allow athletes to release the ball with incredible power. These balls can be thrown in different directions, be it overhead, sideways or behind and allow an athlete to accelerate the ball with no deceleration time.

 

Plyometric

Plyometric employs the philosophy of jumping or jump training. It is an exercise that has brought new ways to increase the fast spasm muscle in the lower body. When done in the correct manner, with a low rep and right rest between sets, jump training can make one be very explosive.


Push/Carry

Many athletes need to gain weight and strength during the time they are not on sports. The best way to go about it is to pick up heavy objects and walk, carry, pull or push them. These exercises shock the central nervous system into growing muscles in a quick manner. These exercises prove to be the best ones for wrestlers, rugby players, and football players.

Sprinting

 

For an athlete to fully prepare for a game time, they need to practice with the same period and intensity involved in an actual game time. Short and fact bouts of explosive sprinting with enough rest can prove to be very helpful for athletes. You also need to have a positive frame of mind. Also, understand that there is not a perfect training program. Every training program seems to be incomplete. You have to include as many programs and training as possible to achieve your optimum levels.

How to Improve your Athletic Performance

AtheleteIs there are a blueprint to improving athletic performance? If there was a clear one, we would all adopt it. But for athletes, there is always a room to grow. It has been discussed that the modern day athlete is becoming faster, stronger and better in comparison with the past years. These are the words of David Epstein as discussed in TED Talk when he compared the performance of Usain Bolt against Jesse Owens, who dominated sports in 1936.

We are living in a period where we have a lot of information facilitated by advances in technology. We have accumulated a complex know-how of sports science, supplementation as well as nutrition. If you are an athlete, or just plan to become one, there are key things you can put into practice to maximize your athletic performance.

 

Eat the Right Food

You need to eat the right food at the right time. Food plays a very crucial role in athletic performance. An athlete cannot just decide to eat anything they like and expect to be in top performance. An athlete’s meal should be cleaner as compared to that of an average Joe. This is the reason we have nutritionists who are specifically tailored for athletes. Nutritionists can create meals that are specially tailored for athletes.

Eat the Right Supplements

As an athlete, you need to eat the right supplements at the right time. There are those instances that you can’t just rely on the food you eat. There are those times you have to mix it up with supplements. The most important supplements you need are vitamins. You will equally need proteins and various pre and post workout supplements to fuel your body before a workout as well as healing and recovery after training sessions.

Functional Exercises

athelete performanceAs an athlete, you need to focus on functional exercises. To up your performance, you need to have the right workout for the right sport. In most cases, isolation exercises will not deliver you the results. Exercises tailored for bodybuilders won’t work for athletes. There are those athletes who don’t look muscular, but their physique is tailored for their sport; a good example is swimmers.

Drills

The way athletes perform is very important. One of the best ways to improve athletic performance is by repeating the same movement and exercise until you master it. Ever wondered why some athletes react so fact to different situations? It is because they have mastered a specific drill over a long time. You need to mix up workouts every three weeks. This helps your muscle memory in your body to adapt to stressful and changing encounters. You also need to apply muscle confusion which can produce amazing results for athletes.

Conditioning

First, an athlete needs to log their performance and improvement. They need to know what they have accomplished so far, and the progress they are making.  Secondly, they need to include conditioning in their routine. Athletes should take time to improve and refine their techniques. They should also incorporate conditioning exercises during their training routines to make their body adapt fully.