Prevention is better than cure

While there is starting to be some change in the way that psychologists are used in sport, in my experience it is still predominantly in an attempt to ‘cure’ some specific performance issue. I find this approach interesting as, for most sports performers, that big final or opportunity comes along very infrequently. As a result, finding out that you were not good enough or couldn’t cope after the event is not particularly useful. Indeed for many individuals and teams who squander there big chance there is no second bite of the cherry. So, while you might engage the services of a sport psychologist to help fix whatever went wrong the first time round you might never get another chance.
Blog 7
Which is why, for those individuals and teams who want to be successful, you should they looking to be as good as they can be from the start. Often the problem is that neither the individual or the team are aware of their limitations of shortfalls until they manifest themselves under pressure. Often this is simply a function of the fact that they have never competed in that final or at the highest level before. Some individuals and teams do learn from these setbacks and go on to be successful in the future, but you can’t plan for getting that second chance. You always have to assume that this one time might be the only time. One way to ensure that players and teams are aware of any potential psychological issues is to test for them.
Racing
I have found it interesting in my career so far that when working with teams there is a general reluctance to engage in psychological testing/screening relating to performance. The better teams engage in physical (strength and conditioning) testing, skill-based testing, and injury risk testing, but not psychological testing. For each of these other aspects of performance that are tested this is done to understand the current position and to put in place development plans to maximise performance. So why is this not the case with the psychological aspects of performance? A similar approach could be adopted to understand current strengths and aspects of mental performance that might ultimately limit forthcoming performances. But this pre-emptive psychological testing seems to be underutilised in sport.
cycling
In my experience spots performers are less inclined to entertain the view that they are mentally not quite up-to-scratch. This in part comes back to the still prevailing view of sport psychology as something that ‘gets you back to normal’ instead of being almost limitless in its potential – a bit like strength and conditioning. So maybe if we can change the perception of sport psychology from being ‘problem-fixing’ we can empower team and individuals to start believing you can be better than your opponent rather than just not deficient. This in turn, I am sure, would drive sport to be more proactive in being better and not finding out the true state of their mental game until they experience failure.

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