Sports psychology involves properly motivating and preparing an athlete mentally for their sport. It is generally accepted that the psychology of sports is 1/3 or more of a championship player's ability. Coaches and athletes, though, commonly report that 50-90% of their performance is based in their mental state.
Sports psychology is, at its core, three basic concepts that each sport's players, athletes and coaches alike, extrapolate to fit their sport's needs and expectations.
- Goal setting, motivation, and self-confidence (setting a goal and taking the steps to accomplish it - i.e. "This game I will get on base at least once")
- Simulations and imagery (knowing and visualizing the steps to achieving goals and expectations - i.e. Visualizing the mechanics of a good pitch, mentally reviewing the steps, and then executing them)
- Concentration and focus (complete attention on the skill at hand to the exclusion of all else - i.e. Pitching while seeing only the mitt you are aiming at and have no audio input aside from the coaches and fielders as needed)
Each sport has separate details regarding their individual expectations and steps to proper mental preparation. The underlying steps to preparation, as outlined above, remain consistent from sport to sport. Baseball imagery involves mechanics of hitting and pitching whereas the imagery of lacrosse involves fluid passes and proper dodging techniques. Both are, in essence, imagery and practiced in the same matter but the actual make-up of each is completely different.
Sports psychology is still moderately infantile compared to many other forms of psychology. In time, the theories of proper in-game motivation, post-game wrap-ups, and game-time plans will be better evolved to aid both the players and coaches.