6 Figtree Drive Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127

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What is Sport Psychology and how will it assist my performance?

by Paul Penna

Sport psychology is, quite simply, the study of psychological and mental factors that influence performance and participation in sport. While there are many factors that contribute to the overall performance, at an elite level most sports rely significantly on mental functioning and processing of the individual athlete.

Athletes use a range of skills and strategies to assist their mental performance. The basis of these mental skills includes goal setting, self talk, visualisation, arousal regulation, and concentration strategies. The development of these mental skills is going to be a primary part of this section, as they significantly improve performance. Many people may have heard of these strategies before, and while they are extremely beneficial in assisting performance, most people regularly fail to maximise their impact.

One of the greatest predictors of an individual’s success in athletic competition is their performances in training. It is easy to be “good” at least once or twice every year, but what about every day? Or better still, what about when you are under maximum pressure, trailing on the scoreboard with the game clock running down?

It is the individual’s ability to perform in a pressurised situation that really counts.

Without any doubt sport psychology is for every athlete. It doesn’t discriminate with age, experience, gender or success. You don’t have to be a member of the Olympic Games Team. You may very well be a junior athlete or a “weekend warrior” who just wants to get better, with a goal of one day perhaps winning a club championship, making the cut-off or achieving a long held dream. And you don’t have to a “headcase” to benefit.
I guess that is one of the major misconceptions with Sport Psychology and the role of the sport psychologist. The common belief that you have to be a headcase, a choker, anxious when on the mat in order to use a sport psychologist, isn’t accurate. While there is certainly an opportunity to assist individuals that may find themselves in these situations, I spend most of my time assisting individuals to improve their overall performance.

Performing is the name of the game; whether that is an individual, team or corporate company. What we do, and the way we work together is ultimately a measure of success. More commonly it is about the strategies and systems we have in place to enhance performance, perform more consistently, and ultimately perform under pressure.

Performing under pressure is significant component of competition, while most people would prefer to avoid pressure. Performing with it, or under it, is certainly a test or challenge of your skills. While I’m certainly interested in your ability to make a perform in training and maximise the “daily training environment”, I’m more interested in your ability to control your thoughts and feelings to nail that “pressure point”. It’s now I get to see if you can perform.

FOCUS Performance Psychology are experienced Sport Psychologists that provides services for athletes, performing artists and other high achievers, as well as corporate development, and coaching programs to clients based in Sydney, regional areas of Australia and overseas.

It is easy to be “good” at least once or twice every year, but what about every day? Or better still, what about when you are under maximum pressure, trailing on the scoreboard with the game clock running down?


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Sydney Sports Medicine Centre
Level 2, NSWIS Building
6 Figtree Drive
Sydney Olympic Park
NSW 2127

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Rhodes NSW 2138

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Opening Hours

Mon - Thurs

8 am - 7 pm

Fridays

8 am - 6 pm

Saturdays

8 am - 1 pm

Appointments from 7am for some services