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The top 6 questions we get asked as sport and performance psychologists

The top 6 questions we get asked as sport and performance psychologists

5 min read
  • Sport psychology

Although sport and performance psychology is a growing field and many of the best athletes benefit from using it, there is still a lot of confusion around what it actually is. We often get asked questions about what we do, so we wrote this blog to try and answer some of them…

What do sport psychologists actually do?

As sport and performance psychologists, we work one-to-one with athletes to help them improve their performance and give them that competitive edge. Where coaches work with the athletes on their physical performance, we are working with the athletes’ minds. Sport psychologists can help athletes to achieve their goals.

This may include working to overcome any problems they may be facing, such as nerves. But we don’t just work with the athlete on problems, we also work to improve all areas of performance. We want to help the athlete become better in every way, whether that’s helping prepare for competitions, coming back from injury, developing a pre-competition or pre-shot routine, or just developing their mindset and skills so they practise better.

We spend a lot of time listening to the athletes and working out what will help them the most. We offer solutions mainly in the form of practical techniques and methods that the athlete can use, both at home and out in the field.

How does sport psychology work?

We usually have clients approach us asking about sport psychology and what we can offer them. The process begins with an initial meeting, which can be in person or over the phone, where we ask some questions and get to know the athlete and what they want help with.

From there, we set out a plan for moving forward, including how often we will meet and what the sessions will look like. Then, in each session we will work with the athlete, teaching them strategies and techniques to help them improve their performance.

Our support isn’t just limited to the sessions we set out however – we are there for the athlete at all times, whether that be on the phone the night before a competition or booking in an extra session at times when they need more support.

Our overall aim to is give our clients as many tools as possible that they can use to perform at their best.

How does sport psychology help athletes?

Engaging in sport psychology can help you in a wide range of areas. Here are some of the areas we help our athletes with:

This all helps athletes to perform better under pressure and reach their full potential.

Train your mind as well as your body. Unlock your full potential with sport psychology coaching.

Do you just fix athlete’s problems?

People assume that when an athlete is working with a sport psychologist, it’s because something is wrong with them and they need help. But this isn’t always the case. People sometimes work with us just to improve on their skills and practise techniques to give them that competitive edge.

It’s not just focusing on bad things – it can include working with the athlete to analyse what they’ve done well and how they can carry on improving. We are giving them strategies to use when performing to help them with all areas of their performance, not just the bits they struggle with.

We are that extra person in their team, that is there to listen to them and support them with their training and preparation for competitions.

Is a sport psychologist just like a therapist or councillor?

People hear the word psychology and think we are like a therapist or councillor, sitting on the sofa talking to an athlete and making them get better. But this isn’t a very accurate view of what we do.

As explained above, it’s not just about working with athletes who have problems. We are working with all types of athletes to make them the best athlete they can be. The focus is on performance and how you can deal with the pressures of training and competing, to help you improve and perform to your best when it matters.

In comparison, therapy is more about resolving problematic behaviours, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues, and somatic responses (sensations in the body). 

Who do sport psychologists work with?

Sport psychologists work with a range of athletes, both amateur and professional, and all different ages. Some people argue that it is only for elite athletes who need to perform under extreme pressures, but sport psychology techniques can very much apply and transfer to amateurs. Even when sport is a hobby, most people want to improve their performance to some extent.

Here at InnerDrive, we have worked with lots of different athletes, young and old and in a range of different sports. Some of these sports include football, athletics, rugby, tennis and in motorsport. Our athletes all train at a variety of levels, from youth athletes to semi-professionals, Premier League footballers and Olympic athletes.

One of our most asked questions is, who is the biggest person you have worked with? Something important in the world of sport psychology is confidentiality. This relates to practitioners not revealing their clients’ identity, or what their concerns or treatments are. This is important because this is the client’s personal information, and they should get to decide if they want this known or not.

So, we are not allowed to disclose which athletes we work with.

Final thoughts

If you want to boost your performance and become the best athlete you can be, working with a sport psychologist will help you do just that! We want to help you reach your full potential, overcome your fears and perform with confidence!

Get in touch with our team today to discuss how we can help you achieve your goals – we’re always happy to talk sport psychology.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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