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Showing posts from 2017

Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship can be defined as playing with consideration for fairness, ethics, and respect for others. Sportsmanship is all about keeping the integrity of the game. It can be tempting to be a bad sportsman. Competitive emotions can cause disrespect for opponents. Cheating can help you reach your goals. But sports was not meant to be equivalent to war. It is not a selfish, free-for-all, activity. Sports are meant to be beneficial to everyone. When you are a good sportsman, you help keep the integrity of the game, making sure it survives for future generations. If everyone played unfair, was disrespectful and cheated, the game wouldn’t be worth playing anymore. Would you enjoy tennis if every close line call was called out? Look at the game of college football. It is becoming very corrupt with a “win at all costs” mentality. The pressure to win is tempting teams to break NCAA violations. Many colleges sweep criminal activity under the rug to prevent players from being suspended. Is wi…

Sports and Mental Health

On average, athletes are not as happy as society portrays them to be. Many collegiate and professional athletes suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, eating-disorders, and pain-medicine abuse. Injuries such as concussions have a great effect on athletes’ physical and mental well being. Many athletes mismanage their money and go broke while others (Olympians, low ranked tennis/golf pros) can barely break even playing professionally. Some athletes dedicate their entire childhoods to their sports only to burnout and quit.

With all the challenges and stresses of sports, more attention needs placed on the mental health of athletes. However, even with their mental health at risk, many athletes do not seek therapy.  In American culture, mental illnesses are stigmatized. People, especially athletes, think mental illnesses are a sign of weakness. Athletes think they are supposed to be tough and not show their true feelings. When they develop mental illnesses, they feel ashamed and embarr…

Sports and Life Skills

Whereas some people see sports as life, most people see sports as just one small component on the bigger picture of life. They see sports as just a means to a larger end, a way to provide enjoyment, relationships, money, recognition, or self-improvement. There’s a lot to gain and learn from playing sports that can be applied to the rest of your life. As an athlete, you learn virtues such as work ethic, patience, persistence, teamwork, and grace under pressure. These skills can be transferred over to other areas of life if you want them to. However, just being a successful athlete does not guarantee that you’ll be successful outside of sports. There are many examples of successful athletes that don’t know how to succeed in other careers, or manage their personal lives. The skills that you learn in sports need to be actively transferred over to life outside of sports. Don’t just expect it to naturally happen. If you are nervous about an upcoming job interview, you can use the same arous…

Injuries

Injuries are a part of sports. Whether you play a contact sport, over-train, or just get unlucky, you are bound to get injured throughout your athletic career. You have two issues to worry about when it comes to injuries: how to prevent them, and how to deal with recovering from them. Many people think injuries are completely unavoidable. When they get them, they think they were just unlucky. However, this is not always the case. Many injuries can be prevented if you take precautions. Common causes of athletic injuries include:
Common causes of injuries Preventative measures Physical contact It’s hard avoiding being tackled in football, but there’s ways you can minimize the chances of being injured. You can build up muscle mass to protect your bones. You can run out of bounds, or slide to avoid contact. Bad Equipment Better helmets, better shoes, better braces can all help prevent injuries. Overuse, lack of rest Too many reps on a daily basis without rest can cause tendonitis and other injuri…

Sports and Personality

Your personality can have a big effect on your athletic career. Your personality can determine which sports, positions, and playing styles are best fit for you. Psychologists agree that human personalities have some variation of  5 characteristics. Here are the “Big 5” personality characteristics:
Conscientiousness: being thorough, careful, hard-working, and organized. Conscientious people desire to do tasks well. You can range from high to low conscientiousness. Agreeableness: being cooperative, compassionate, sympathetic, and kind. You can range from high to low agreeableness. Neuroticism: Being nervous, fearful, worrisome, stressed, risk-averse, and pessimistic. On one end you can be neurotic, and on the other end you can be calm and optimistic. Openness: being open to new experiences and ideas, being curious and open-minded. You can range from high to low openness. Extroversion/Introversion: Extroverts seek stimuli from the external world. They enjoy being with people and settings such…

Defense Mechanisms

Competition can be stressful. With all the pressure, you will surely feel nervous. Your opponent may be very challenging. Trying to win may make you mentally and physically tired. Your mistakes may be frustrating you. Together, all of this can put a lot of stress on you and your ego. It is uncomfortable. You may want to release the stress and return to your comfort zone. Many athletes do this by using defense mechanisms unconsciously. Here are some examples of defense mechanisms. Most of them consist of excuse making, giving up, and choosing lower goals over higher goals. All of this causes you to play worse.

Situation thoughts/emotions Defense mechanism result Losing to an underdog This is embarrassing. This makes me look so bad. Tanks, gives up, doesn’t try anymore. This gives you an excuse for losing. You lost only because you weren’t trying. This protects your ego and makes you feel better. Since you gave up and became less motivated, you will play worse and most likely lose. Losing I’m play…

Team Cohesion

One goal of any leader is to increase team cohesion. Team cohesion “is the degree to which individual members want to contribute to the group's ability to continue as a functioning work unit. Members of cohesive teams have emotional and social bonds that link them to one another and to the group as a whole” (boundless.com). The best teams have a high level of team cohesion. Such teams have members that like each other, get along, and all “buy into” the team’s goals. However, high team cohesion can be unproductive if all the team members support each other's lazy work ethic and mediocre goals.

One of the reasons why high team cohesion can be beneficial is because it can create a “brotherhood” or “sisterhood” of members that sincerely care for each other and love each other. This can create “combat motivation,” which is one of the strongest motivators. Combat motivation is a military term that refers to doing something not for yourself, but for your loved ones, or your “brothers.…

Leadership

Leadership is the ability to lead, guide, or motivate a group to reach a shared goal. Urban Meyer defines leadership as setting high standards for people, and giving them the tools to reach them. There are many leadership styles. None is perfect for every situation, leader, or follower. Leadership largely consists of two types of behavior: relationship oriented, or task oriented behavior. Leaders are either attempting to make their followers satisfied and empowering them to perform better (relationship oriented behavior) or they are organizing, directing, and demanding tasks to be performed (task oriented behavior). Relationship oriented leaders are often described as “players coaches” while task-oriented leaders are more similar to a military drill sergeant. Both types of leaders can be effective in different situations, but for like most things, balancing both orientations is most effective.
Arguably, at it’s best, leadership is selfless. The best leaders sacrifice their selfish desi…

Emotions and Performance

Competition can make you emotional. You may get happy when you are winning and you may get mad/sad when you are losing. Proper emotional management leads to peak performance. You need to know how certain emotions affect your performance and how you can better manage your emotions.

Getting sad or angry after every mistake is not a recipe for success. Often, these negative emotions are just defense mechanisms that protect your ego when losing. Occasionally, getting mad can help to motivate yourself, but most of the time, it reduces confidence, motivation, relaxation, and clouds thinking and judgement. Negative emotions can sometimes create a downwards spiral: make mistake, get mad, play worse, make mistake, get more mad, play even worse.
On the other hand, positive emotions such as happiness can help performance by increasing confidence, motivation, and relaxation. However, having positive emotions after every good play can be harmful. If you are too happy, you may get complacent. It can …

Nervousness and Choking

Pressure can hurt your performance because it can make you too nervous. Nerves can make your body tight and cause you try too hard instead of just “letting it rip.” So why don’t we just stop being nervous so we can play better? It’s not that simple. First of all, nervousness is necessary. It shows you care and are motivated. We need to be motivated to play well. But can’t we be highly motivated without being nervous? Sometimes, but this is very difficult to do in certain situations. The thought of failing and what failing means to us, makes us nervous, and it is very hard to eliminate all thoughts of failure entirely.

Embarrassment, or making ourselves look bad is a big source of our nervousness. We are scared of making mistakes because we fear looking bad. This is because humans are social beings, who care deeply about self-esteem and social hierarchy. So nervousness is something we can’t completely control, we can only contain it. Every professional athlete in the history of sports …

Arousal Control

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Your ability to control your mindset and peak performance during a game has a lot to do with arousal control. Arousal can be defined as motivation, energy, or effort. It can be measured by your heart-rate, breathing, focus, and nervousness. If you really want to win, you may be highly motivated and nervous. Your heart-rate and breathing may be fast. This is high arousal. If you don’t really care about the game, you may be calm and your heart rate/breathing may be low, but your energy and effort will also be low. This is low arousal.
For most sports that involve fine motor skills such as basketball, tennis, and golf, peak performance requires a moderate amount of arousal. If your arousal is too high, you will be too nervous/tight and won’t be able to play with relaxed concentration. If your arousal is too low, you won’t have the motivation to run fast or your attention span will be too short.  
The Inverted U Theory shows the relationship between arousal and performance. So how do you co…

Mental Toughness

You always hear people talk about mental toughness. What does that actually mean? Is it any different from peak performance? If peak performance is the ability to play up to your full potential, then I define mental toughness as the ability to reach peak performance through stress, distractions, fatigue, and pain.

Any athlete can reach peak performance every once in awhile, but does that make him or her mentally strong or tough? I believe the mentally toughest athletes are the ones that can consistently get close to peak performance time and time again. They are the ones that show up and play well every game, every tournament, every year.  But even more, they can reach peak performance despite intense fatigue, pressure, or other distractions. Even when their bodies are fatigued, they come up with the motivation to keep fighting. Even when the pressure is intense, they are able to stay relaxed. Even when they have outside distractions (such as family issues), they are able to stay focus…

Peak Performance

Many athletes underachieve in games. They play well in practice but cannot execute as well in games. This is because their mental game isn’t good enough to deal with the pressure and demands of competition. They haven’t learned the skills of peak performance. Peak performance, often described as “the zone,” can be defined as playing up to your maximum potential. It is playing as well as your body, mind, and preparation allows you to. Playing with peak performance has 5 components: 1: Being fully prepared for competition physically and mentally. 2: Playing with full effort and motivation. 3: Playing with full concentration, with no distractions. 4: Playing with full confidence and trusting your muscle memory (playing loose/relaxed instead of tight/nervous). 5: playing strategically smart and making the right decisions.
The zone, or peak performance can simply be described as being fully prepared and playing hard and smart with relaxed concentration.
But just knowing what peak performance is d…