THEN: The Story goes back some six or seven years from now… I had just started my practice in the field of sports psychology. The word sports psychology was not a very known word then, during that time Psychology was mostly associated with the clinical field. People always wondered “whats the role of a psychologist in sports”. I still remember my very first meeting with my first team which was a district level cricket team. They had this big Question Mark on their faces and some of them had this “not for me” attitude. Challenging job! Players would come to my sessions only because their coach asked them to meet me, but for them it was “I am fine and I don’t need your help”. This went to such an extent that some of the players started calling me ‘psycho’. But as we started knowing each other and I started contributing my bit to their performance, they slowly started accepting me in their team. And then after a few days everybody started coming to me with their issues or to discuss ways through which they could improve their game. It was fun working with them.
Now: In these seven years of working with more than 500 players, their coaches and parents, across sports disciplines and levels, one thing I can say is that now people are quiet aware of the ‘word’ sports Psychology but most of them still have this question “whats the role of a psychologist in sports?” There are very few players, parents and coaches who know that you don’t necessarily have to have a problem to meet a sports psychologist. A few days back a state level badminton player’s mother called me and said, ” the coach had asked us to contact you, but i don’t want to bring my child to your place for i don’t want to let people know that my child is having sessions with a psychologist and also this would affect his self confidence”. This is a very normal first meeting conversation for me. Most of the time my first session goes with answering to the question of what is my (Sports Psychologists) role or what is sports psychology?
This gave me an idea of writing a blog “My Game My Psychology” on sports psychology, the objective is to generate awareness for this very interesting field of psychology, to share my experience and to pen down the different techniques that I use with my players. So from next article lets start exploring this field of psychology and for today just to give you an idea, I leave you with these cases where sports psychology techniques can help:
Scene I: ‘Rahul’, a 13 year old Table Tennis Player. Rahul performs much better in practice than during competition. His practice game is flawless, but in competition his performance is below par. He feels free and loose in practice and then is plagued with doubts or indecision in the competitive arena. Something changes between practice and competition.
Scene II: ‘Mansi’, a 20 year old athlete. After an injury she has physically 100 % recovered, but she can’t perform the way she did pre-injury. She is afraid of re-injury and this causes her to play tentatively. She has lost her confidence and wonders if she can return to previous performance levels pre-injury.
Scene III: ‘Adi’, a 15 year old cricketer- batsman loses focus and has mental lapses during critical times of the game. When up to bat while chasing for a higher target, with 4 out and the game unchanging, has pressure to produce runs for his coach, teammates and for himself. He commits simple errors that he wouldn’t normally do in other less threatening situations.