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Using Sports Psychology to Become A Better Coach

Many times, coaching athletes involves looking at them from a sports psychology perspective. Enhancing even the best player’s physical performance is only part of the end goal. Coaches should strive to support their athletes mentally and emotionally, all while preparing themselves to deal with the psychological challenges of being a coach.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some ways to deal with the demands of leading your team with sports psychology from the coach’s box.

Positivity Burnout

Coaching can be accompanied by positivity burnout. When you are giving pep talks on a regular basis, you may discover that your energy is becoming lower and it is getting more difficult to give encouragement.

When this happens, recognize your need for space and give some realistic feedback to your player rather than a huge speech that may go over the top. If this continues to occur, reconsider your approach to encouragement.

Think Long-Term

It’s important to plan on long-term change within a team rather than short-term success. While winning the next race or game is good, it’s even more crucial to focus on strengths and thought processes that are contributing to a player’s behavior across a season or career.

Behavioral Change

Building on the previous point, it is even more difficult to change someone’s behavior than it is to change their mentality. Discovering why people act the way they do may involve exploring their past experiences, which could take several one-on-one coaching sessions.

Consider the impact you are trying to have on your athlete. Does their behavior warrant some restructuring? Ultimately, the player is responsible for changing his or her behavior, but your counseling can indeed put them on the path to change.

Flow State

Image courtesy of sports-psychology.com

Image courtesy of sports-psychology.com

Flow state is defined as “a state of mind in which someone is so involved with their current activity that they experience heightened awareness and perform to the best of their ability despite external pressures.”

Helping athletes achieve flow state requires frequent feedback. However, as a coach who approaches thing with a sports psychology perspective, you need to know when to give players some space to let their abilities develop as they reach this rare state of mind.

See the Whole Picture

The people who surround an athlete are just as likely to impact performance as their strategy and attitude. From home life to team vibes, every aspect of a person’s life will impact their moves on the field. Consider an athlete’s diet, exercise regime, social relationships, academic demands, sleep patterns, and financial concerns when figuring out how to coach them inside the lines.

Highlight the Good Stuff

Image courtesy of sports-psychology.com

Image courtesy of sports-psychology.com

Some people have difficulty recognizing positive accomplishments because they tend to focus on the negatives. It is possible that your athlete may be on what some coaches like to call a “hedonic treadmill.” Based on positive psychological theory, this term describes people who experience positive life changes but return to previous levels of happiness as they adapt to their new lifestyle. They constantly desire more without being grateful for
what they already have.

You should not encourage your players to rest on their laurels. But it might be wise to have them practice daily gratitude exercises, like writing down things they’re thankful for in a notebook.

Using Sports Psychology To Your Advantage

Although coaching others to achieve their fullest potential can be challenging, know that you are not alone in your struggles. Many coaches and trainers experience positivity burnout as they attempt to engender flow state and long-term impact in their athletes. Lasting change starts with one person taking small steps, so focus on getting your athletes past their mental hurdles and on the path to success.

Interested in learning more about the impact of sports psychology on athletic performance? Click here to discover the University of Florida’s online Master of Science in Sport Management.

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5 Responses to Using Sports Psychology to Become A Better Coach

  1. Banking April 8, 2016 at 1:52 am #

    I love your blog post very much.

  2. Andrea Collins February 23, 2017 at 2:34 am #

    Hi Steve,

    Amazing Post! I can’t wait to apply these tips to be a professional coach. Positivity Burnout, Behavioral Change, that’s are what I should improve to be a better coach.

    Thanks Steve so much!

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    […] Many times, coaching athletes involves looking at them from a sports psychology perspective. Enhancing even the best player’s physical performance is only part of the end goal.  […]

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