It 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.