• Question: how does psychology help people get better in sports?

    Asked by thurga to Helen on 9 Jul 2012.
    • Photo: Helen O'Connor

      Helen O'Connor answered on 9 Jul 2012:

      Hi Thurga, great question, and a difficult one to answer in lots of depth but I will try 🙂

      Psychology is the science of how we think, feel, and behave and the connection between them. With athletes, I help them learn new “mental skills” that can help them perform better, whatever is going on around them. Lots of athletes can perform well in training, when no one is watching and when there is no pressure. The problem is to perform this well even when there IS lots of pressure, in a competition like the Olympics, when you are having a bad day, or when you just had a fight with your parents etc.

      So I help athletes learn things like relaxation exercises, how to use their self-talk to stay calm and focused, (what they say to themselves inside their head), how to develop a routine that helps them get “in the zone”. Athletes need to have strong minds as well as strong bodies – and most athletes would say that their best performances are at least 50% psychological – feeling positive or feeling negative could mean the difference between winning or losing.

      I hope this helps – ask me anything else you would like!