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Does Sports Psychology work and can it work with both professional athletes and amateurs?

The simple answer is YES, YES, and YES!

Sports Psychology

  1. Identifies the mental barriers that limit performance.
  2. Applies mental training to overcome performance barriers.
  3. Instills the mental game needed to succeed and excel in sports.

Professional Athletes – The higher the level of competition the greater need for a competitive edge. At the elite level talent is established. The mental game is what separates great athletes and championship teams from the rest in sports.

Youth and Amateur Athletes – Young athletes can have all the talent in the world and watch it pass them by. Talent like growth spurts only go so far. Only with a strong mental foundation will athletes achieve their true potential.

For many youth athletes, Sports Psychology and Sports Mental Training are untouched avenues of performance enhancement training. Why? Many young athletes and parents do not understand Sports Psychology and may be skeptical of its value.

The stigma that Sports Psychology Services are for athletes with psychological issues is 100% false – nothing but a myth from long ago. During a time when “sports psychologist” referred to anyone with a degree who worked with athletes because there wasn’t a sport psychology degree.

Sports Psychology today is far from the field it once was. Do not let the world psychology confuse or discourage you. Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes. Sports Psychology is the scientific study of human performance and mental processes in sports.

Sports Psychology is not therapy or counseling it is education, training, coaching and consulting. The late great Major League Baseball Sports Psychologist Harvey Dorfman said it best:

“I’m not a shrink; I’m a stretch,” Mr. Dorfman told skeptics. “I don’t diminish – I expand.”

History of Sports Psychology from Prohibition to Sports Psychology Today

Sports Psychology is an emerging field, but not a new one. It is as old as the Disney Company and Barbra Bush. The pioneers of Sports Psychology were experts in two areas – their field of study and of course sports. Sports Psychology Today is far from the field it once was and is no longer reserved for the world’s best athletes.

Known as the founding father of Sports Psychology, Coleman Griffith, was a psychology professor with a background in education. He began conducting research on athletics in the 1922, and published the first study in applied sports psychology in 1925. Dr. Griffith began giving lectures on the Psychology of Athletics was during the roaring twenties and prohibition. It was officially born the same period the first Yankee Stadium opened in the Bronx and the Giants joined the NFL.

The 1930s were a difficult time all around and the whole world felt it with the Great Depression, Nazi Germany and the threat of Communism. Yet, the principles of sports psychology emerge as did the mentally tough. Gandhi used self-discipline, composure and commitment in his protests. Amelia Earhart broke down performance barriers with confidence, motivation, and determination rather than fear. Cinderella Man and FDR – talk about mental toughness. Both are great examples of human ability armed with the mental tools needed to succeed.

Outside of the military, the psychological study of human performance lacked momentum in the United State. It wasn’t until athletics and the military joined forces to gain a competitive edge over Russia during the Cold War Olympic Games that Sports Science found its momentum. In 1965, the First World Congress of Sport Psychology met in Italy, and the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP) was born.

By the 1970s and 1980s mavericks in the field began to emerge from diverse disciplines and some remain active in Sport Psychology today. A list of our top five and their contributions is currently in the work.

To Be Continued. Please bare with us as SportsPsychology.com undergoes maintenance.

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