In the world of physical activity and sport , psychology is a discipline that still has a long way to go. There is a lot of confusion about what the role of psychology is and what benefits it brings.
In my opinion, despite the progress that sports psychology has made, its importance has not yet been understood.
There are people who see psychology as a fundamental part, others believe that one only works on an individual level with athletes, others that one should dedicate oneself only to high performance or that it only serves for the formative phases, there are those who do not “believe” in it, those who think that it only serves to work on motivation, etc.
The psychology of sport and its scope
There are different ways of thinking , something logical considering that people’s thinking differs a lot from one another. However, sometimes it is too similar.
Within these visions of sports psychology, there seems to be one that, in my opinion, is unfortunately shared by many professionals (or not so many) in the world of sport. I have observed this in comments, questions that people have asked me, requests for help, etc., both from people who value our work in this field as something important, and from others who do not have so much faith in its usefulness.
Whether it’s an extra confidence or a lack of knowledge, or a reaction provoked by frustration derived from a competitive situation , many times coaches and sportsmen come to us in our search when “all the fish is (almost) sold” to see if we are able to solve a situation they have been trying for a long time, or not, in a few hours.
I’d like to know what kind of magic psychologists think we can do to think we can turn their situation around by spending a tenth of the time they’ve spent for an entire season without getting it. Because one reality is that, many times, we count on our work when there is no other option , of “putting out fires”, forgetting the preventive tasks. And those times usually coincide with situations that are already difficult to save.
The worst thing about all this is that in the end, in most cases, the situation does not vary enough, reinforcing the idea that the sports psychology professional should not devote himself or herself to sport and should limit himself or herself to being in a clinic , following the medical model, which is more popular in our sector.
I dedicate this article to commenting on this situation, without wanting to convince you of the importance of my work, with the only intention of helping to understand that psychologists do not have a miracle pill that changes things overnight.
There are no shortcuts: change requires effort
Like any fitness or technical-tactical training, psychological training requires time, work and dedication. If a runner wants to increase his endurance, he will not achieve this in two training sessions, but will require constant work through which he will obtain a series of improvements over time until he reaches the desired performance . In the same way, if this rider wanted to optimise the handling of concentration and relaxation before the competition, a day or two of practice would not be enough to acquire this skill.
Just as with training, so too with the work of the sports psychologist. Just as a coach who arrives at a team needs to gain the confidence of the group, get them to believe in his work and follow him in his purposes, a sports psychologist needs to know the people with whom he will be working and, fundamentally, gain their trust so that they work and develop their proposals, convinced that this will help them to achieve their objectives.
All good work, in the long run, depends on the same factors: time, dedication, perseverance; there are no miracles. The success in the attainment of the objectives, comes preceded by the combination of an interdisciplinary training that includes the physical, technical-tactical and mental areas ; and the training will be of greater quality, in the measure that each one of its aspects, comes executed by a professional of this area.
Luckily, it’s not all that black. The importance of our work in the world of sport and physical activity is being recognised more and more every day and we are becoming more relevant as another important figure within the field of sport. I look at reality with hope, trusting that with work and perseverance we will manage to make our way, tearing down this and other myths that are created around us and giving way to a reality in which we are valued as just another professional. It takes time.