Dr. Darlene Treese
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Bringing Sports Psychology Into Your Life: Analyze

When should you be analytical? Here are some general sports psychology rules that can help you determine if you're using your capacity to analyze to your betterment or detriment.

Being analytical is useful when you are first learning a new skill. It's very useful to break a task down to its smallest elements and master each and then sequencing them together. In undertaking any goal, understand what the basic steps are and then master each individually by analyzing your strengths and weaknesses in a detached manner.

The pressure to perform perfectly the first time or to learn a new skill quickly is the biggest problem most athletes have. They place the emphasis on performing rather than learning. By not taking the time to analyze and remind themselves of the various things they need to do - and finding mental cues to do them - they tend to make the same mistakes over and over.

What should you analyze? The amount of information that we can deal with at one time is limited. Some athletes become distracted by cues that are irrelevant to their peak performance such as noticing the crowd or their own anxiety or being "faked out" by cues that they think are relevant but they're really not. You can use your analytical ability to improve your performance by noticing what you need to think about when you're having problems with stress and tension or concentration.

Here's what a good coach does:

  • If an athlete's tension level is too high and she/he is worried and has low self-confidence, have them concentrate on the act of competing rather than thinking about the final outcome.

  • If the arousal level is too low and lacking drive and motivation or concentration is distracted by other things, focus on outcome and consequences of failure and call forth commitment to self and others to do your best.

  • If an athlete is angry and reacting in frustration and blaming others, confront them to become more analytical, to go inside their own head and identify the reactions within their own control regardless of the situation. Give them time out to regain their composure to become more logical and analytical and emotionally detached.

  • If an athlete is worried or depressed or has gone inside their mind to the point of not reacting to the game situation, draw them out through reassurance and support rather than confrontation. Help them stop the over-analysis that is going on and give external structure in one or two performance cues that they can focus on.

Be your own best coach today!

Next Week: Bringing Sports Psychology Into Your Life: Controlling Adrenaline