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Sports Psychology II - Think Your Way to Success

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Today, sports psychology is regarded as an essential component of sporting success. Discover the will to win with these ground-breaking techniques for changing behaviour and improving confidence on the field.

No longer is sports psychology regarded by coaches and athletes as a subject for wimps needing an excuse for poor performance. Ten or fifteen years ago, that might have still been the case, but the adoption of ‘mind coaches’ (otherwise known as ‘mental game coaches’) by such top athletes as Tiger Woods, Andre Agassi and Colin Montgomerie soon put paid to that.

Today sports psychology is recognised as an essential component of sporting success, particularly for the serious athlete – every bit as important as training, recovery, kit, hydration and nutrition. That’s because, the more accomplished the athlete, the bigger the role the mind plays in performance. After all, if you’re a beginner in a sport, you’re probably still working on mastering a basic competence in physical skills and not worrying about your mind game.

Moreover, we now know that it’s not simply a question of harnessing the power of the mind to achieve peak performance on the day of a big event. The correct mindset must underpin an athlete’s efforts all year round. After all, the best-designed training regime won’t help if you’re not sufficiently focused and motivated to follow it, week in and week out – or if you’re liable to ‘choke’ at the critical point in major competitions because you haven’t done the proper mental preparation for the event.

That’s why research into sports psychology has accelerated considerably in recent years, mirroring its more general acceptance amongst the sporting community. Today, sports scientists are scaling new heights in their understanding of the mental factors that underpin peak performance – and, equally, those factors that can undermine it.

So we’ve chosen this fast-developing subject as the topic of our first-ever sequel in the Peak Performance series of special reports. Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success builds on the knowledge contained in our previous psychology special report (Sports Psychology: The Will to Win), introducing you to the very latest developments in sports psychology, analysing some recent research findings – then spelling out in plain English their significance for the serious athlete. Through the Peak Performance shop, you qualify for a special 42% discount off the original price of $59.99! Instead, you pay only $34.99 (£21.69)!

The first book is now into its third edition and has helped over 3,493 athletes and coaches in their performance and training. Read on to find out how you can get the latest report in both print and electronic format and as a special bonus instant access to the findings of the first report at a very special price.

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Here, chapter by chapter, is what you’ll get with Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success:

Motivation The first chapter takes a look at the dynamics of motivation, without which there is little hope for sporting success.

Coaching Selfmotivation is one thing. Creating a positive motivational environment as a coach and continuing to motivate is another. This chapter explains the best methods of approach.

Tactics Half-time can be crucial in team sports. Here is a chapter that will analyse how to conduct yourself and communicate with those around you at the interval.

Nutrition Dieting and Nutrition play a role in most athletes' lives, although sometimes it is a detrimental role. This article considers new ideas on eating, moods, and performance.

Performance Assessment Attribution Theories are critical to understanding how to assess performance. This chapter explains how to learn from success and failure.

Emotional Intelligence The term may sound like an oxymoron but it is in fact a vital branch on the sports psychology tree. In a two part chapter we explain why this is, and how endurance athletes especially can prosper from it.

Imagery This two part chapter will get to grips with the basics of imagery then take a specific look at how music and video can enhance training and performance.

Here’s a quick taste of the sorts of issues Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success covers – and what you can expect to learn:

• What are the three attitudinal differences that separate elite athletes from the merely good?
• What’s the best way to use music to enhance athletic motivation?
• Why do some approaches to goal-setting fail… and others succeed?
• What’s the right (and the wrong) way to schedule positive reinforcement?
• Why can too much praise sometimes undermine an athlete’s performance?
• Can video and music really boost an athlete’s performance in training – and on the Big Day?
• How should coaches make the most effective use of the half-time period to raise the team’s game in the second half?
• What’s the right way – and the wrong way – to make a half-time substitution?
• How can you use imagery and self-hypnosis to speed up recovery from sports injury?

All in all, 105 pages of cutting-edge information every serious athlete and coach needs to know – and integrate into their training and conditioning programs.

The Psychology of Motivation: how do you lift your sporting potential?

What is it that makes individuals like the 45-year-old sprinter Merlene Ottey, who competed in her seventh Olympics in Athens 2004, churn out outstanding performances year in, year out? Elite athletes such as Ottey have developed an ability to channel their energies extremely effectively. Indeed, motivation is essentially about the direction of effort over a prolonged period of time.

There are numerous approaches to the study of motivation. Some are based on schedules of positive and negative reinforcement (eg BF Skinner’s and Ivan Pavlov’s behaviourism) while others focus on an individual’s sense of mastery over a set of circumstances (eg Albert Bandura’s self-efficacy theory).

Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success explains the very latest thinking, explores the constituents of motivation using a contemporary approach, popularised by Americans Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, known as self-determination theory, which emphasises the role of individual choice.

We examine some of the key findings from recent literature and set out four evidence-based techniques you can use to enhance motivation. You will be able to tailor the motivational techniques to enhance your participation in sport or the performance of others, in the pursuit of superior sporting performance.

The discussion includes an explanation of the differences between high achievers and also-rans in the world of sport. We provide the results of a recent study, based on interviews with 10 elite Australian track and field athletes, that reveals the three central attitudinal differences between merely good and elite athletes. Coaches will find this section particularly interesting as we also identify the best way to set and pursue sporting goals, the correct approach to praising and rewarding athletes, the value of using motivational music and the key role of self-talk in enhancing motivation amongst athletes.

You get all the information you need to understand how motivation works – and how you can put it to work for yourself, or your team.

The Coaching Challenge: How do you create a positive motivational climate?

The motivation for participating in sport and striving for improvement is likely to vary considerably from person to person. Indeed, most people have multiple motives rather than single reasons. For example, a tennis player might be attending individual coaching sessions to improve her ranking in order to demonstrate competence, repay the support of her parents and qualify for more prestigious tournaments offering more prize money!

Sometimes these multiple motives reinforce each other, but at other times they can cause internal conflicts – as with the young athlete who feels pulled between his athletic career and his academic studies – and then something has to give!

One of the major difficulties for coaches working with groups of athletes with diverse motives and goals is to create a motivational climate that facilitates the development of all these motives – or at least as many as possible. If anyone tells you this is easy, they are talking nonsense.

So this section of Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success reviews established thinking on the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ approaches to coaching and motivation – then delves deeper, into recent thinking on how best to encourage optimal motivation and shape desired behaviours. You’ll find out the right (and wrong) way to schedule positive reinforcement and give constructive feedback – including why continuous praise can do more harm than good.

And we’ll share with you the best way to work with athletes who are confirmed attention-seekers.

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The Psychology of Tactics: are you making the most of the half-time opportunity?

The half-time period in a match is not just about refuelling and physical therapy. It’s also an absolutely crucial time for the coach and team to gather their thoughts and prepare mentally for the challenges of the second half.

That’s because the half-time period in a game tends to create an emotional experience amongst the players and the coach. A full review might take place a day or two after the game, which can be generally analysed free of the emotional reactions associated with the game itself. However, at half-time the outcome of the game is yet to be decided. The interval is often only around 15 minutes in duration, and is the only direct opportunity the coach will have to speak to all the players and to influence the second-half performance and result.

So Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success devotes a special section to explaining the importance of effective communication and other underestimated factors during the half-time period, focusing on the crucial role of the team coach. You’ll learn the number one element of a successful half-time talk – and how you should go about tackling it.

Then we discuss the psychology of half-time substitution – how to do it, and how not to…

And we explore the role of Neuro-Linguistic Programming in raising your communication game, along with specific techniques like dissociation, reframing and anchoring.

The Psychology of Eating: new thinking on mood, food and performance

Weight management and diet is an important issue for athletes and exercisers alike. Exercisers tend to be interested in diet for health or body image related reasons, while athletes are often motivated to lose weight because they believe it can lead to improved performance or as a necessary part of preparation in weight-classified sports.

Studies show that some athletes are prone to using extreme strategies to lose weight. Moreover, athletes needing to reach a certain bodyweight often use extreme weight loss methods in a quest to lose a large amount rapidly. Unfortunately, some athletes may also believe that they will gain mental toughness by making the weight using these methods, and this will improve performance.

While a low body weight can be helpful for health and/or sports performance, caution is urged if success comes from using extreme strategies. Although engaging in sport and exercise and eating a healthy diet is an effective way of controlling weight and raising self-esteem, it is important to avoid developing obsessive thoughts about diet.

Because the optimising of eating patterns for maximum performance can increase the risk of eating disorders in vulnerable athletes, Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success examines how athletes and exercisers can gain confidence to exert healthy self-control around food.

First we examine some of the myths about controlling eating behaviours, then go on to examine the reasons why unhealthy eating behaviours develop, before proposing strategies to gain confidence to exert self-control around food. We use data from a recent case study to explain the intervention we propose.

The Assessment of Performance: how to learn from sporting success and failure alike

In order to learn from mistakes and failures, it is important to be able to assess what has happened objectively. But this is less easy than it sounds since the emotions connected with both success and disappointments can cloud our judgement and compromise our objectivity.

When we compete against others, or against our own standards, the consequences of what sport psychologists call ‘achievement strivings’ are quite naturally going to provoke evaluation when the outcomes are very important to the individual. In such situations, people naturally strive to make sense of what has happened to them. The problem is not about persuading coaches and athletes to reflect on and evaluate their successes and failures but ensuring this is done in an objective manner.

One thing that is clear from examining the research literature is that in situations with definite outcomes (ie win/lose), our perceptions of why we either won or lost have important consequences for our affective states (eg feelings of pride, anger or shame), self-esteem, future motivations and behaviours (eg persistence)

So in Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success we discuss several theoretical frameworks designed to enable sports psychologists to study how attributions influence individual, and suggest how best a coach can remain objective when faced with such situations.

You’ll learn the best way to deal with different athletes – from those who refuse to accept their role in failure on the field to those individuals who always assume it’s all their fault.

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Emotional Intelligence: why your head should rule your heart

In recent years, sports psychology research has seen the rise of a concept named emotional intelligence. But what is it, how can it help sports performance and how can we enhance our own emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence can be briefly summarised thus:

• The ability to recognise different emotional states
• Assessing the effects of emotions on subsequent behaviour
• The ability to switch into the best emotional state to manage a particular situation

Not surprisingly many businesses have used emotional intelligence ratings as part of their selection processes, but the ability to recognise the emotional states in others in the sporting context is clearly desirable, and the skill of raising the emotions of the team is a potentially priceless asset.

So in Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success we devote a double section to this important topic. Part One provides a full grounding of the thinking and fundamental concepts behind emotional intelligence, including a step-by-step summary of how to develop this mind skill. Part Two focuses in on emotional intelligence for endurance athletes, where the mind can suffer as much as the body.

You’ll learn how to develop emotional self-awareness, then how to master this ability during daily training and competition. So many athletes fail to explicitly recognise the personal emotional profile that they associate with success – and are therefore unable to harness it correctly.

You’ll also be given strategies for regulating emotion, and visualising success, before finding out how to set emotionally-focused goals. Finally we discuss the value of positive self-talk and of role-play in developing an individual athlete’s emotional control competencies.

The result? A new understanding of both the role of emotion in influencing sporting performance, and the power of harnessing it correctly.

The Psychology of Imagery: use the power of imagination to enhance your performance

The progression of the human species has relied heavily upon our capacity to look beyond where we are now. These same qualities of foresight and vision can be harnessed to produce superior sporting performance Just as a bright and active imagination can facilitate progress in academic, work-related and social domains, so it can facilitate progress in sport.

Indeed, 30 years of personality research in sport have shown that the most common psychological characteristic of elite athletes is high intelligence. You may find this quite surprising as athletes are often teased by non-athletes as being ‘intellectually challenged’.

However, top athletes regularly engage the right side of their brain, the creative side that uses images and abstract concepts, to practise skills and rehearse various scenarios that are integral to their discipline.

To assist coaches and athletes in harnessing the power of imagination, Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success explores recent research and practical applications of two techniques that are often taught by sport psychologists: Imagery and Self-hypnosis.

The chapter kicks off with a discussion of how imagery and self-hypnosis both work, dismissing some of the common myths. In the process you’ll learn the key differences between the various forms of mental imagery, and the role that imagery is now understood to play in the recovery of athletes from sports injury.

We also show you how to use imagery to enhance the learning of a new sports skill or technique, and share with you an exercise you can use to get yourself – or your team – properly ‘psyched-up’ before that important match. And we give you the full text o a script you can use for successful self-hypnosis.

The practice of mental skills such as imagery and self-hypnosis will enable you or your athletes to add an entirely new dimension to your training programme that will certainly pay dividends in the long run.

Ergogenic Aids: how to use video and music to boost sports performance

Recent research has seen some creative approaches to developing psychological skills, such as listening to carefully selected music and watching personal motivational videos.

Sport psychology researchers have sought to move from anecdotal to scientific knowledge in this area. The development of a scientific evidence base for the effects of music and motivational videos requires researchers to design appropriately controlled studies that seek to control for a number of factors that could affect the results. The scientific base for these new ideas is emerging with encouraging results from initial tests.

Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success evaluates these new techniques, explains how they can be assessed and suggests ways in which they can be incorporated into training. We discuss the difficult question of how best to choose performance-enhancing music given that most athletes have their own personal music favourites and musical associations, not to mention a difference in their susceptibility to music. The discussion is illustrated by a case study that draws on work with a world-ranked professional boxer. We explain exactly how to integrate both music and video into training – before, during and after a session.

We also list the top ten tips for producing effective personal motivational videos.

Exclusively from PP, you can get a copy of Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success at a special discount. Place your order today and you pay just $34.99 (£21.69) instead of the full price of $59.99. You save 42%.

Ou Unconditional Money-back Guarantee: if, for any reason, you decide Sports Psychology: Think Your Way to Success doesn’t deliver what we promise, just let us know. We’ll refund your money in full, immediately and without question.

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