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Sports Psychology For Dummies

Sports Psychology For Dummies

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by Leif H. Smith, PsyD, and Todd M. Kays, PhD

Published by
John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
6045 Freemont Blvd.
Mississauga, ON L5R 4J3
www.wiley.com

Sports—Psychological aspects

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Book Details
 Price
 3.00
 Pages
 362 p
 File Size 
 2,867 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 ISBN
 978-0-470-67659-2
 Copyright©   
 2010
 by John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd 

About the Authors
Leif H. Smith, PsyD, is the president of Personal Best Consulting, a sports
psychology and performance consultation fi rm located in Hilliard, Ohio. He
has worked with hundreds of individual athletes from all walks of life — from
amateurs and weekend warriors to professional athletes from Major League
Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Football
League. Leif’s company contracts with the Department of Athletics at The
Ohio State University to provide counseling and performance consultation
to its 36 sports and nearly 1,000 athletes. He has also worked with teams
and athletes from The University of Iowa and Duquesne University, among
others. Leif is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Dayton, teaching
graduate courses in clinical assessment. He earned his doctorate in clinical
psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and did
his postdoctoral fellowship in applied sports psychology and counseling at
The Ohio State University Sports Medicine Center. His work has been cited
in publications such as The New York Times, The Columbus Dispatch, and
Entrepreneur magazine, among others.

Todd M. Kays, PhD, is president of the Athletic Mind Institute, a sports and
performance consulting fi rm in Dublin, Ohio. He is a licensed psychologist,
devoted to helping athletes and people of all walks of life achieve peak
performance on a consistent and frequent basis. He attended the University
of Notre Dame for his undergraduate degree and earned his doctorate at
the State University of New York at Buffalo. His training and guidance have
helped hundreds of athletes eliminate the most common mental errors and
breakdowns in sports. For fi ve years, Todd was the sports psychologist for
the Columbus Crew, the major league soccer team in Columbus, Ohio; he
continues to work with numerous soccer players and coaches throughout
the country. He has consulted with athletes and coaches from all different
levels of sports, including Major League Soccer, USA Olympic Hockey, the
Professional Golf Association, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
He consults regularly with the athletic departments at The Ohio State
University and Ohio University, both of which he serves as an adjunct
faculty member. Todd was the fi rst sports psychology fellow at The Ohio
State University, training several athletes, coaches, and teams, including
national champions, all-Americans, and Olympians. He has coauthored two
books — Positive Transitions for Student Athletes: Life Skills for Transitions in
Sport, College, and Career (Holcomb Hathaway Publishing) and The Parent’s
Playbook: Developing a Gameplan for Maximizing Your Child’s Athletic
Experience (Champion Athletic Consulting ) — and produced Peak Mental
Performance in Golf: Sharpening the Mental Side of Your Game, a CD, book,
and video series addressing mental training for the sport of golf. Todd has
appeared on radio and television and in newspapers and magazines, including
ESPN, Fox Sports, the New York Post, and NASCAR Illustrated.

Introduction
Sports psychology is a relatively new field, but it’s one of the fastest-growing
areas in sports performance. Professional sports are big money, and
teams want a return on their investment in their players. So it should come
as no surprise that every NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL team employs someone
trained in sports psychology to assist them with helping players work
through mental blocks, slumps, and general decreases in performance.
We wrote this book because we want to get the information that we teach
to elite athletes and teams to the general public. The services we provide as
sports psychologists can be expensive, and most athletes who are just
looking for a way to get the edge in their sports participation can’t afford to
fork over hundreds of dollars to meet with their own sports psychologist.
With this book, you don’t have to — you hold in your hands the same
information we share with our clients, for a tiny fraction of the cost.
This book is packed full of information that can help you get more out of
your physical talent. We’ve filled this book with techniques and skills that
we teach to professional and Olympic athletes — skills that you can apply in
your own training today.


Table of Contents
Introduction ................................................................. 1
About This Book ..............................................................................................1
Conventions Used in This Book .....................................................................2
What You’re Not to Read ................................................................................2
Foolish Assumptions .......................................................................................2
How This Book Is Organized ..........................................................................3
Part I: Getting the Winning Edge:
Sports Psychology Fundamentals ....................................................3
Part II: Your Mental Toolkit for Success .............................................3
Part III: Staying Competitive: Sports Psychology in Action ..............4
Part IV: Improving Team Performance with Sports Psychology .....4
Part V: Sports Psychology for Coaches and Parents.........................4
Part VI: The Part of Tens .......................................................................5
Icons Used in This Book .................................................................................5
Where to Go from Here ...................................................................................6
Part I: Getting the Winning Edge:
Sports Psychology Fundamentals ................................... 7
Chapter 1: Introducing Sports Psychology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
Your Secret Weapon: Your Mind .................................................................10
Defi ning mental toughness .................................................................10
Setting effective goals ..........................................................................11
Understanding your motivation .........................................................11
Building confi dence in sports and life ...............................................12
Assembling Your Mental Toolkit .................................................................13
Seeing Sports Psychology in Action ............................................................13
Harnessing the Power of Teams ..................................................................14
Applying Sports Psychology as a Coach or Parent ...................................15
Chapter 2: The Gladiator Mind: Strengthening
What’s Under the Helmet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17
Defi ning Mental Toughness ..........................................................................17
What mental toughness is ..................................................................18
Why mental toughness matters .........................................................19
Increasing Your Mental Toughness: A Plan of Attack ...............................21
Knowing your starting point: Your mental toughness today .........21
Making the commitment .....................................................................22
Preparing for specifi c situations ........................................................25
Evaluating and measuring your progress .........................................26
Chapter 3: Setting Goals: Aiming High and Hitting the Bull’s-Eye . . .29
Setting Effective Goals ..................................................................................30
Determining your goals .......................................................................31
Making your goals specifi c .................................................................33
Setting goals that challenge you ........................................................34
Setting deadlines for each goal ..........................................................34
Tracking Your Success in Reaching Your Goals ........................................35
Holding yourself accountable ............................................................35
Coming up with a way to measure your goals .................................36
Giving yourself permission to adjust your goals .............................38
Chapter 4: Stoking the Fire in Your Belly:
How to Fan the Flames of Motivation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Debunking Common Myths about Motivation ...........................................40
You can get your motivation from other people .............................40
Fame and fortune are great motivators ............................................40
Motivation alone can lead to success ...............................................41
Defi ning Motivation .......................................................................................41
The two types of motivation: Internal and external ........................41
Identifying which type of motivation is better .................................43
Assessing and Understanding Your Current Motivation Level ...............43
Measuring your motivation ................................................................43
Making sense of your motivation .......................................................44
Maximizing Your Motivation: How Fires Can Become Bonfi res ..............45
Being completely honest with yourself.............................................46
Thinking about why you play the game ............................................46
Focusing on tasks, not ego .................................................................46
Finding ways to experience success .................................................47
Mixing up your training .......................................................................47
Surrounding yourself with highly motivated people ......................47
Being disciplined ..................................................................................48
Seeking support ...................................................................................48
Moving on from your mistakes ..........................................................48
Thinking positive .................................................................................48
Overcoming Obstacles to Staying Motivated .............................................49
When your role on the team has changed ........................................49
When you’re burned out .....................................................................49
When you’re being pulled in different directions ............................50
When you’re not seeing eye to eye
with your coaches and teammates ................................................51
When your priorities in life change ...................................................52
Chapter 5: Swagger: The Art and Science of
Building Real Confi dence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
What Confi dence Is and Why It Matters .....................................................55
Debunking Myths about Confi dence ...........................................................56
Tapping Into the Confi dence Cycle .............................................................58
Thinking positive .................................................................................59
Taking risks...........................................................................................60
Experiencing success ..........................................................................61
Building Your Confi dence .............................................................................61
Focusing on day-to-day success ........................................................62
Concentrating on process, not outcomes ........................................63
Tackling the Obstacles That Get in the Way of Confi dence .....................64
When you have a bad game ................................................................65
When you’re not getting playing time ...............................................66
When you’re sick or injured ...............................................................66
When you aren’t as prepared as you could be ................................67
Part II: Your Mental Toolkit for Success ....................... 69
Chapter 6: Mastering the Art of Focus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71
What Focus Is and Why It Matters ..............................................................72
Thinking Big or Sweating the Small Stuff: The Zones of Focus ................74
Focusing on What Matters ............................................................................76
Relevant points of focus......................................................................76
Irrelevant points of focus ....................................................................77
Using Focus to Reduce or Eliminate Pressure ...........................................80
Overcoming the Obstacles to Focus ...........................................................81
Thinking about outcomes ...................................................................81
Getting too emotional ..........................................................................82
Letting off-the-fi eld stuff get in the way.............................................83
Dealing with fans, offi cials, and coaches ..........................................83
Improving Your Focus ...................................................................................84
Chapter 7: Seeing Is Believing: What You Need
to Know about Imagery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87
Introducing Imagery ......................................................................................88
Internal imagery: From your own point of view ...............................89
External imagery: Looking at yourself from the outside ................89
Determining What Type of Imager You Are ...............................................90
Visual: Monkey see, monkey do .........................................................91
Auditory: I hear you loud and clear ...................................................91
Physical: I feel you, man ......................................................................92
Considering the Key Characteristics of Ideal Images ...............................92
Painting images with vivid detail .......................................................93
Picturing images of your success ......................................................94
Getting Started with Imagery .......................................................................96
What to image ......................................................................................96
When to use imagery ...........................................................................98
Where to use imagery .......................................................................100
Evaluating the Success of Your Imagery ..................................................101
Chapter 8: Self-Talk: Making Sure You’re Not
Yelling in Your Own Ear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105
Considering the Consequences of Self-Talk .............................................105
The two types of self-talk: Positive and negative...........................106
How self-talk affects performance ...................................................106
Changing the Channel on Negative Self-Talk ............................................109
Paying attention to the messages you send yourself ....................109
Stopping the negativity .....................................................................111
Replacing negatives with positives .................................................111
Using Self-Talk to Improve Your Performance .........................................114
Journaling before practice ................................................................114
Coming up with cue words ...............................................................115
Creating a mental recovery routine.................................................115
Practicing positive imagery ..............................................................117
Chapter 9: Getting a Hold of Your Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .119
Time Management versus Task Management:
Recognizing the Difference .....................................................................120
Time management: The old way ......................................................120
Task management: An easier way to manage your time...............121
Clarifying Your Values ................................................................................122
Setting Priorities ..........................................................................................125
Adding Up the Hours You Waste ...............................................................127
Maintaining Accountability ........................................................................128
Part III: Staying Competitive:
Sports Psychology in Action ...................................... 131
Chapter 10: Winning Habits: How Routines
Improve Performance in Competition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .133
Identifying How Routines Improve Focus and Performance ..................135
Recognizing the Difference between Routines and Superstitions .........136
Exploring the Routines of Elite Athletes ...................................................138
Example #1: First on the fi eld ...........................................................139
Example #2: Leisurely and relaxed ..................................................140
Example #3: Movies and meditation................................................141
Coming Up with Effective Practice and Game-Day Routines .................141
Practice routines ................................................................................142
Game-day routines .............................................................................145
Knowing When and How to Adjust Your Routines ..................................147
Chapter 11: Handling Pressure: Playing in the
Fire without Getting Burned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .149
Probing into Pressure: What It Is and Why It Occurs .............................150
The signs of pressure ........................................................................150
What causes pressure in sports.......................................................152
Why some athletes choke under pressure .....................................153
Understanding the Difference between Arousal and Pressure ..............154
Handling Pressure like a Pro ......................................................................157
Focusing on the task at hand ...........................................................157
Being prepared, in every way ...........................................................157
Getting perspective ...........................................................................160
Changing your self-talk ......................................................................160
Understanding what you have control over ...................................161
Journaling ...........................................................................................162
Breathing and stretching ..................................................................163
Chapter 12: Staying Strong: The Importance of
Managing Energy Levels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .165
Eliminating Energy Wasters .......................................................................167
Negative self-talk ................................................................................168
Emotional excess ...............................................................................168
Lack of preparation ...........................................................................169
Tracking Your Energy Levels .....................................................................170
During practice...................................................................................171
Before competition ............................................................................171
During competition ............................................................................171
Managing Your Energy Levels ....................................................................172
Identifying your ideal competitive state .........................................173
Pumping yourself up .........................................................................173
Competitive relaxation: Relaxing while kicking butt .....................175
Chapter 13: Handling Adversity: The Psychological Art
of Bouncing Back. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .181
Looking at Loss Differently .........................................................................182
Recognizing that loss isn’t necessarily failure ...............................182
Seeing the difference between getting beat and losing.................183
Pulling Yourself Out of Slumps ..................................................................183
Understanding why slumps happen ................................................184
Focusing on fundamentals ................................................................184
Being mindful......................................................................................185
Bouncing Back after Mistakes in Competition .........................................187
Knowing what happens mentally after a mistake ..........................187
Establishing a post-mistake routine ................................................189
Dealing with Injuries ....................................................................................191
Preventing injuries .............................................................................192
Coping with injuries...........................................................................194
Part IV: Improving Team Performance
with Sports Psychology ............................................. 199
Chapter 14: Communicating as a Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .201
Dispelling Common Misconceptions about Communication .................202
Communication is all about the words you say .............................202
As long as you say it, they’ll hear it .................................................203
Understanding How You Communicate:
What You Say without Words ................................................................204
Body language ....................................................................................205
Tone of voice ......................................................................................207
Setting Up the Conditions for Ideal Communication ..............................207
The right time .....................................................................................207
The right place ...................................................................................208
Improving Your Communication Skills .....................................................209
Don’t take things personally.............................................................209
Remember what they say about assuming .....................................210
Focus on the present, not the past ..................................................210
Never say “always” or “never” .........................................................211
Chapter 15: Leading Your Team to Victory: Athletes as Leaders. . . .213
Knowing What Leadership Is (And What It Isn’t) ....................................214
Investigating Your Style of Leadership .....................................................215
The dictator ........................................................................................215
The people’s champion .....................................................................215
The hands-off leader ..........................................................................216
Being the Leader in the Big Moments .......................................................217
Before competition ............................................................................217
During competition ............................................................................217
After competition ...............................................................................218
In the off-season .................................................................................219
During practice...................................................................................220
Off the fi eld .........................................................................................220
Enhancing Your Leadership Skills .............................................................223
Building trust and respect ................................................................223
Walking the walk ................................................................................223
Holding your teammates accountable ............................................224
Modeling effective leadership ..........................................................225
Chapter 16: Developing Teamwork. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .229
Developing a Team Mission .......................................................................230
Coming up with your mission statement ........................................230
Getting the buy-in of everyone on the team ...................................231
For Coaches: Helping Your Players Come Together as a Team ............232
Defi ning your players’ roles and responsibilities ..........................232
Getting the team to take ownership of their success....................233
Building a “we” mentality instead of a “me” mentality .................235
Managing egos ....................................................................................236
For Players: Putting Your Team above Yourself .....................................237
Getting to know your teammates .....................................................237
Knowing and embracing your role on the team ............................238
Recognizing that you’re responsible for your
own success and failure ................................................................239
Part V: Sports Psychology for Coaches and Parents ..... 243
Chapter 17: Coaching Today’s Athlete . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .245
Improving Your Athletes’ Focus ................................................................246
Preparing athletes for practice ........................................................246
Keeping athletes focused ..................................................................248
Tracking and evaluating your athletes’ focus ................................248
Teaching Your Athletes to Perform under Pressure ..............................249
Simulating competition .....................................................................250
Using imagery before, during, and after practice ..........................250
Creating pressure-packed drills .......................................................251
Motivating Your Athletes ...........................................................................253
Showing them the big picture ..........................................................254
Designing fast-moving practices ......................................................256
Finding inspiration .............................................................................256
Getting Your Athletes to Play as a Team ..................................................258
Discussing the common mission everyday ....................................258
Demonstrating how “we” is better than “me” ................................259
Giving teamwork more than lip service ..........................................260
Chapter 18: Parenting an Athlete: How to
Be More than Just a Fan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .263
Differentiating Between Your Motivation and Your Kids’ ......................264
Encouraging Your Kids Instead of Pushing Them ...................................266
Getting Your Kids Ready for the Game .....................................................267
Asking what they need ......................................................................268
Providing pre-game reminders and encouragement .....................268
Emphasizing effort .............................................................................269
Focusing on fun ..................................................................................269
Cheering on Your Kid the Right Way ........................................................270
Cheer, but don’t yell ..........................................................................270
Follow the 24-hour rule .....................................................................271
Let the coach coach ..........................................................................271
Have a sense of humor ......................................................................271
Be patient with offi cials .....................................................................272
Don’t play the blame game ...............................................................272
Keep age and skill level in mind .......................................................272
Be a role model ..................................................................................273
Teach, don’t lecture ..........................................................................273
Understanding and Managing Athletic Burnout ......................................273
Talking with Your Kids When They Want to Quit ...................................276
Exploring the best decision for your kid ........................................276
Separating yourself from the process .............................................277
Finding the right time ........................................................................278
Exiting gracefully ...............................................................................280
Part VI: The Part of Tens ........................................... 281
Chapter 19: Ten Ways You Can Use Sports Psychology at the Offi ce...283
Preparing for the Workday .........................................................................283
Defi ning Career Success .............................................................................284
Balancing Work and Your Personal Life ...................................................285
Concentrating Amidst Distractions ...........................................................286
Taking a Timeout from Stress ....................................................................286
Performing Well Under Pressure ...............................................................288
Developing Effective Work Routines .........................................................288
Focusing On Tasks rather than Outcomes ...............................................289
Coping with Confl ict and Adversity on the Job .......................................290
Enlisting Your Own Support Team ............................................................291
Chapter 20: Ten Ways to Be a Better Competitor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .293
Evaluate Where You Are .............................................................................293
Know What Motivates You .........................................................................294
Defi ne Your Goals ........................................................................................294
Set an Action Plan ........................................................................................295
Improve Gradually and Consistently ........................................................295
Train Your Mind Daily .................................................................................296
Improve Your Physical Skills .....................................................................296
Tweak Your Methods ..................................................................................297
Develop and Maintain Your Fitness ..........................................................297
Seek Out Pressure .......................................................................................297
Chapter 21: Ten Ways to Manage Stress Better. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .299
Prioritize .......................................................................................................300
Strive for Balance ........................................................................................300
Meditate ........................................................................................................301
Use Imagery ..................................................................................................302
Manage Your Thoughts and Emotions .....................................................302
Exercise .........................................................................................................303
Get Enough Sleep .........................................................................................304
Cultivate a Support Network ......................................................................305
Laugh .............................................................................................................305
Practice Gratitude .......................................................................................306
Chapter 22: Ten Ways to Parent an Athlete. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .309
Deciding Whether to Specialize .................................................................309
Choosing the Right League .........................................................................311
Knowing What to Say after a Loss .............................................................311
Being a Fan, not a Coach .............................................................................312
Cheering, not Yelling ...................................................................................312
Talking with Your Kid’s Coach ..................................................................313
Rewarding the Things That Matter ...........................................................314
Budgeting Your Time and Money ..............................................................314
Focusing on Learning Life Skills .................................................................315
Living Your Own Life instead of Living through Your Kid .....................316
Index ....................................................................... 317

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About This Book
Most sports psychology books provide good stories and education on sports
psychology concepts, but they don’t take the next step and cover actual
techniques and strategies that athletes can use. In this book, we do exactly that.
Plus, this book is organized for busy athletes who are on the go and don’t
have a lot of time to waste. The information is easy to access and written in
plain English, without any psychobabble to bog you down. You don’t need
a PhD to understand this book. All you need is a thirst for knowledge and a
willingness to work hard to reach your goals — we bring the rest.

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