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Mental Skills Training: Difference in Individual & team Sports

The meaning of a successful athlete has been set all around the globe: If you win or get selected for some major events, only then you are considered to be the successful athlete.

But here is a fun fact:

To be a successful athlete one does not need to win multiple medals or participate in any major events. they just have to be committed to giving their best shot with all the possible shortcomings around.

What is this situation in India?

Athletes in India have been working a lot more on their physical aspects and technical aspects. Work on the mental aspects of an athlete has been lacking. No doubt, over the years awareness around the mental aspects in sports has been growing. Yet it is not being considered by many sports enthusiasts.

Mental training or working around the mental aspects in sports will not only help athletes enhance their performance but also help them enjoy their sports.

For that there are some sets of mental skills that can contribute to an athlete's success.

Mental skills training, also known as psychological skills training, is one of the major areas of sports psychology.

Mental skills training basically involves development and application of mental techniques and skills that helps in enhancement of the performance and well-being in athletes.

Just like physical and technical aspects in sports, mental skills should be worked on a regular basis in order to get good results. Mental skills training involves like:

  • goal setting

  • imagery or visualization

  • communication

  • self-talk

  • relaxation

  • confidence

  • control over thoughts and emotions

  • motivation

  • mindfulness and more.

Even though each mental skill can help athletes with their performance, but for each sport the hierarchy of the skills might change. For individual sports one might need different skill sets and for team sports one might need different skills sets.

What is the difference between individual sports and team sports?

Even though an athlete has to work on all the mental skills, the ration of the skills needed might differ for each sport.

For example: In team sports like basketball or football the main skill that they can work around is focus. Because they have to keep an eye on one particular object (ball) throughout the time. Next very major skill that can be worked on is communication. An effective way to communicate with fellow players and coaches during the game will always be a key factor to success in a team game. Whereas in individual sports like gymnastics or boxing, one might need to work on anxiety, confidence and motivation more. And so each sport has its own hierarchy of skills that can also be considered as demands of the sport, but each skill helps in enhancement of an athlete.

Lastly mental skills training not just helps athletes to achieve success in the area of sports but also helps them achieve success in other areas of their lives.

This post is written by Dwija Asher.

Dwija is a Gymnast and a sport psychology consultant with MFP


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