Recommended Sites
Related Links


Article Content

How Can Sports Psychology Help Athletes?

The question you need to ask yourself is this: Am I performing up to my capability? I’m sure you know some fellow athletes who have “great talent” or physical skills, but haven’t played up to their potential. One of the myths athletes buy into is that you first must develop “perfect” technique or knowledge about ones sport before you can work on the so-called mental game. But, from my perspective, you cannot separate the mental from the physical when it comes to motor skills. Decisions, thoughts, images, and feelings set up each action you take. Sports psychology helps athletes develop confidence and focusing skills as they master the technical aspects of the game.

Athletes often ask me this question: “How do I know when a poor performance or error is a physical or a mental problem?” From my experience, here are a few hints that it may be a mental breakdown:

  1. You perform much better in practice than during competition

  2. You have a tough time performing well when others are watching you

  3. You maintain many doubts about your sport before or during games

  4. You feel anxious or scared when you perform in competition

  5. You are not sure why you play your sport or what motivates you

  6. You only participate in sports to feel better about yourself as a person

  7. You lose focus or have mental lapses during critical times of the game

  8. You can’t perform the way you did pre-injury, but are physically 100%

  9. Everything is fine, but you just want to improve your mental attitude

Sports psychology sometimes get a bad reputation because of the association of psychology with pathology. That is why I prefer to call what I do mental game coaching or mental training, which athletes understand. Mental game coaching is for athletes who want to improve upon their current performance and take their games to the next level with the help of a mental coach like myself.

But most athletes, unfortunately, seek out my

services because of an particular performance barrier or decrease in performance. As a mental game coach, I often become the last resort after athletes have tried other means to get beyond performance slumps. I wish it wasn’t this way, but athletes wait until some needs to be “fixed” and they have exhausted all other resources before they commit to mental game coaching.

How can sport psychology help you perform better? Here is the most obvious list:

  1. Improve focus and deal with distractions.

  2. Grow confidence in athletes who have many doubts.

  3. Develop coping skills to deal with setbacks and errors.

  4. Find the right zone of intensity for your sport.

  5. Help teams develop communication skills and cohesion.

  6. To instill a healthy belief system and weed out irrational thoughts.

  7. Improve and balance motivation for optimal performance.

  8. Get back into competition after an injury is healed fully.

  9. To develop game-specific strategies and game plans.

  10. To identify and enter the “zone” more often.

Sport psychology may not be for every single athlete. Not everyone involved in sport wants to “improve performance.” Sport psychology is probably not for recreation athletes who just like the social component of sport. Most of my students are committed to excellence and seeing how far they can go. They love competition and testing themselves against the best in their sport. They want every possible advantage they can learn including the mental edge over the competition.

About The Author

Dr. Patrick J. Cohn is a leading mental game coach who consults with Tour Pros and amateurs. He is the author of Going Low, Peak Performance Golf, The Mental Game of Golf and The Mental Art of Putting. For more information, visit:

Written by: Dr. Patrick J. Cohn

Informative Articles

Gambling Psychology
Gambling psychology for most people conjures up images of stony faced poker players and their habits and actions (tells) that suggest the value of the cards they are holding. I contend that there is much more to gambling psychology. When we look...

How Much Is Your Popcorn Worth?: Powerful Lessons In Marketing And The Psychology Of Selling - Part 4
Let's continue to discuss the various marketing principles that are involved in "popcorn marketing": 4. Engaging the "Senses" You may already know that people usually buy for 'emotional' reasons more than 'intellectual' reasons. You can try to...

Investing Psychology - Know Thyself
America will continue to be the land of opportunity and regardless of what course our economy takes over the next few years, it's likely that investment opportunities will be numerous and attractive. Companies driven by the ever...

Stock Picking & Trading Psychology ... Stock Tips ... Beyond Stock Market Basics
Stock Picking & Trading Psychology ... Stock Tips ... Beyond Stock Market Basics .- The trading method you employ to approach the stock market can make a big difference in your results. Stock trading is a very competitive field and in order to...

The Psychology of Color in Web Design
Persons engaged in website design, here’s a scoop for you! Would you just like to know that by understanding the basics of cognitive psychology around color and patterns, we could further improve our Web design! Designing a Web site does not only...

Recommended Products