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Scope Series 4 RTÉ Two, Thursday, 7.00pm

Sports Psychology

Kieran ByrneIt was recently in the news that a study recommended all GAA inter-county teams employ sports psychologists.

Wexford famously used one throughout the campaign leading up to their triumph in the 1996 Senior Hurling Final.

Sports psychology is a relatively new field that employs various techniques in order to give competitors the edge.

Goal setting: This is a very powerful technique that gives long term vision and short-term motivation.

By setting goals you can:

  • Achieve more
  • Improve performance
  • Improve the quality of your training
  • Increase your motivation to achieve
  • Increase your pride and satisfaction in your performance
  • Improve your self-confidence

Research (Damon Burton, 1983) has shown that people who use goal-setting effectively:

  • suffer less from stress and anxiety
  • Concentrate better
  • Show more self-confidence
  • Perform better
  • Are happier with their performances

Some people focus doing well whereas others just want to win.

Concentration exercises: These would be short tasks that involve for example finding numbers on sheets called concentration grids while distracted etc. The concentration grid is a numbers grid where under pressure of time and distracted by the other presenter one presenter must find in order as many numbers as possible between 1 - 100.

Relaxation exercises: These can be used between any practical competitions to refocus the competitors. These would involve relaxation breathing techniques which are pretty easy to teach and do.

The Stroup test: This is based on saying the colour of a word rather than the word. It helps people to remain focused on a particular task.

The MA in Sports Psychology at Waterford Institute of Technology teaches a range of means of enhancing sports performance, sports participation and best practice at a variety of age and performance levels.

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