Mind, sports psychology and high performance
What makes us different from other species? What makes our technological development be so exceedingly superior to that of the other beings on the planet?
Indeed the secret is in the marvellous human mind, our most formidable tool, responsible for most of the achievements of mankind in history. Another decisive factor is our ability to help each other and to work together in order to enhance our knowledge by learning from others and from our own mistakes.
For those reasons, as we pursue a person’s high-performance in a field like sports, we must use his two most powerful weapons, his mind and his ability to associate with other people with the aim to create synergies. Reaching this point, sports psychology has a fundamental role, since it helps us to measure and balance both qualities and allows us to:
- Assess the mental balance of the sportsman with regard to his needs.
- Assess the relationship of the sportsman with his related professionals.
- Design a mind training plan to make it be more efficient.
- Teach the professionals who take care of the sportsman the best way to convey information to him and to address difficult issues such as correcting mistakes, overcoming setbacks or coping with injuries.
I wish to explain why am I using the expression mind and not intelligence. A mind capable of permitting a person to develop high performance would be a balanced mind but not necessarily an exceptionally intelligent one.
An efficient way to assess a sportman’s abilities is by measuring his emotional intelligence, since it comprises many variables which have a direct effect on his performance and can be modified by training.
We have some tests that have been designed using sophisticated statistical techniques which reveal the value that each variable of the emotional intelligence takes in each sportsman. The psychologist by using that information can detect the weak spots of the sportman’s mind and thence design the training program which will allow him to modify them and improve his performance. Also based on the results of that test the psychologist will determine the type of instructions or messages which will most have an influence on the sportsman and by doing so he will be able to direct the coaches and other professionals in the best way.
Therefore, the study of sportmen’s emotional intelligence must be taken very much into account, both at an early age, so as to properly develop the abilities of the young ones from the start and also in the case of the experienced ones to enable them to channel in the best way all their potential to win. It has, no doubt, been a little explored aspect in sailing sports so far.
Miquel Salom Martorell (Degree in Psychology)