Tag: coping

Psychology of the NBA Playoffs: One Round at a Time!

Rewind

This is what all the fuss is about.

This is what all the fuss is about.

Last year, during the NBA Final Series between the San Antonio Spurs and the then LeBronified Miami Heat, I wanted to write about some of the more mental aspects of the game that came up.

I tried to pick out an interesting story or highlight from each game, something that I thought related back to the “Psychology of the Finals” and wrote a short blog post on that topic. For example, after the air conditioning in American Airlines Arena broke in Game 1, I wrote about the need to take control of the environment, rather than letting the environment give you cramp so bad you have to be carried off the court.

I wrote about the need to focus on What’s Important Now! after both teams seemed to spend the whole of Game 2 arguing with the refs. I wrote about the need for Short Memory Shooting, being completely prepared whether you’re a starter or the last guy off the bench, and a whole host of other areas of psychology that I thought characterised the Finals.

I taped each game (Sky+/Tivo for those of you born after 2000 who have no idea what a tape is), watched it the next morning, and wrote a blog while I was watching the game. To be honest, while I really enjoyed writing about the psychology

Burnout in youth sport: Part 3 – Prevention is better than cure

How do we keep all of our young matches lit? ... That doesn't really work as a metaphor.

How do we keep all of our young matches lit? … That doesn’t really work as a metaphor.

In part one of this series of three blog posts, we looked at the characteristics of burnout. In part two, we explored various explanations for burnout, including stress, feeling trapped, lack of motivation, and the culture of performance sport. Here in part three, we’ll think about what we can do to reduce the chances of our young athletes burning out and maybe leaving sport behind.

Burnout in youth sport: Part 1 – What is burnout?

We’ve all had times when we’re feeling a bit tired and lacking motivation, when we don’t really feel like practicing or training, or when something we usually enjoy doing seems like a bit of a chore. More often than not, once we remind ourselves that we actually love what we do, or even take a few days off, we can get on with it and get back to enjoying our sport.

burnout_syndrom

What exactly is burnout? …Is this picture even relevant? …So many questions.

But sometimes that feeling can last a bit longer and feel that little bit more intense. I’m sure the coaches reading this can think of young athletes that display those characteristics. Maybe you’re the parent of a kid who’s lost interest in sport. Perhaps they’re experiencing burnout, but what exactly is burnout? What causes it? And what can we do to stop our young athletes from burning out and quitting before they’ve even got going?

This three-part post is going to address those questions. I’ll try to answer the first one here, and then see about the others in part two and part three.

Mental Toughness in the Ring

So I’ve been doing some consultancy work in boxing for a while now, and it’s safe to say that it’s a sport that’s unlike any of the sports that I’ve worked in before.  It’s a brutal sport, there’s no getting away from it.  The aim is to punch your opponent until he/she can’t punch you back any more.  

However, it’s also a sport that requires not only immense physical strength and stamina, but also discipline and control, and the ability to think tactically and strategically while under pressure.  So in some ways, I suppose it’s not that dissimilar to other sports after all. 

People will tell you that boxing is 80% mental.  …or maybe 90% mental. …. or 95% mental…. The bottom line is, nobody would question that boxers have to be mentally tough ….  but what exactly is mental toughness, and how can Sport Psychology help boxers develop it?

Coaching under Pressure: Part Three – How Can Sport Psych Help?

It is well established that coaching can be a stressful occupation and that coaches should really be considered as performers in their own right. In part one, of this blog post, I questioned the availability and accessibility of coaching/psychology research for the coaches that could benefit from it. I also discussed what stress actually is and how the stress process works.

Part two looked at some of  my research into elite coaches’ experiences of stress, the kinds of environmental demands they encounter, the sometimes significant impact that stressors can have on coaches, and the sorts of things that coaches do (or don’t do) to cope with stress. Here in part three, I’ll be summarising some of the ways that sport psychology might help coaches to coach more effectively when the pressure is on.

Coaching under Pressure: Part Two – Stress in Elite Sports Coaching

Coaching can be stressful. While coaching manuals often talk about the different roles that coaches take on, this doesn’t really cover the complexity of the coaching role. At the end of the day, coaches are performers1.

They perform in very different ways to their athletes, but they still have to prepare meticulously for training and competition, execute plans in pressurised competition settings, and handle pressure from the media, often with funding, and the future of their sports programmes (i.e., their jobs) on the line. So yes, coaching can be stressful.

In part one, I wondered how many coaches read the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology on the off-chance that there might be a useful article on coaching psychology in there?

Coaching under Pressure: Part One – What Exactly is Stress?

Twitter is great. I mean, at first I thought it was an outlet for the self-indulgent, a way for people to let strangers know what they had for breakfast, or that they were annoyed at something on the TV. I kinda still think that’s what it is, but I’ve also started to realise how useful it is as a tool for sharing information. I’m constantly being directed to interesting articles that I otherwise wouldn’t normally come across or have time to look for myself.

For example, the other day I saw a tweet linking to a BBC news story about elite coaching (here), and how the England Rugby coaches handle the pressure of competition. Now, I wrote my PhD thesis on stress in elite sports coaching. I spent four and half years studying this subject. Three of the four studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals and the fourth is about to be submitted… but how many coaches know about that research? 

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