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2021 in sport psychology: our favourite moments from this year


2021 in sport psychology: our favourite moments from this year

This year has been full of some incredible sporting moments despite unprecedented times, but we believe there has never been a more exciting time to be in sport psychology.

We have thoroughly enjoyed working with our athletes throughout the year, especially supporting them through the pandemic to bounce back and be the best they can be. We are proud to have worked with some of the country’s top athletes, including several of the best Premier League Footballers, as well as Team GB athletes who competed at the Tokyo Olympics.

 

So, what are some of our highlights from the year?

Tokyo 2020 Olympics

After anxiously waiting a year, the athletes finally got to compete in the biggest sporting competition in the world. Although, this year was like no other, with no crowds and strict rules to ensure the safety of everyone. The delay in the Olympics definitely put pressure on the athletes and had an effect on not just their physical preparation but also their mental preparation.

 

For many athletes, they had been preparing for years and to be suddenly told the Olympics were postponed was devastating. As such, we spent a lot of time helping our athletes to bounce back at their best. In fact, we wrote a blog on this where we talk about how to deal with change, asking for help, and what to do to help you get back on track.

Even within this unusual environment, we saw some of the best sporting moments ever. We are proud to have supported some of Team GB’s athletes this year, some of which came home with a medal.

 

Euros 2021

This summer’s Euros was an exciting time as the country united to support the team after we reached our first final in 55 years. Although it didn’t end with a win, it did bring a lot of joy and the fans got to taste normality after a year of lockdowns.

 

But, we wanted to know more. The loss was down to penalties, so that got us thinking… why do substitutes keep missing penalties? We did the research and produced one of our most popular blogs explaining the psychology behind why substitutes miss penalties.

But we didn’t just write about it…

 

The Sport Psychologist Breakdown

2021 also marked the beginning of the Sport Psychologist Breakdown, our YouTube channel dedicated to all things sport psychology. We wanted to continue try and help athletes in all sports to improve their performance and bring light to important topics in sport psychology.

You’ll find some of our favourite videos from this year throughout this blog. We are excited to continue producing videos on new and trending topics throughout the next year - make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing!

 

The growing awareness of sport psychology

In general, it has been great to see the importance of the mental side of sport grow. Athletes, coaches and all people involved in sport are beginning to become more aware of how much it matters, and it will hopefully carry on growing from here.

For example, seeing newly-crowned Sport Personality of the Year Emma Raducanu attribute her getting to the US Open finals to taking it day by day (a piece of advice we often give our athletes) inspired us to write this blog.

 

Recently, we also explored how sport psychologists help athletes and why some of our elite athletes work with us in the first place.

It’s been great to see coaches get more involved in the psychology side of things as well. We have really enjoyed linking major theories in psychology to the sporting context, allowing them to gain even more knowledge and ideas on how to improve performance. Our video all about common cognitive biases that can influence our judgements is a great example of that…

 

We have also noticed that sport psychology has grown in not just elite sport but in athletes of all levels. We have athletes reaching out to us from all abilities and ages, and are excited to continue to support them to improve their performance and mindset.

We truly believe sport psychology is key for amateurs too. Take a look at our blog on the subject, where we emphasise that sport psychology can benefit any athlete, professional or not. It extends to improving other areas of life too: helping athletes understand how they learn, deal with everyday pressures, manage stress, be self-aware, and have emotional control and motivation. Using sport psychology, we help our athletes with their all-round development, both on and off the playing field.

 

So, what do we think will be big in the world of sport psychology next year?

Mental toughness

Mental toughness is one of those words that is thrown around a lot in psychology. However, it is one of the least understood, with many people having different ideas of what mental toughness actually is. We have written about what mental toughness actually is, and we believe this area will continue to be one of the leading topics in sport psychology.

 

These ideas, such as asking for help, and being aware of your emotions, are important and need to be emphasised in order to improve performance and help develop athletes and coaches. If views on mental toughness are wrong, it can create a damaging environment for athletes to train in.

 

Psychological safety

Psychological safety is a concept that has been bought to attention within recent literature in sport psychology. Training settings can be a damaging place for athletes, particularly when individuals feel as though they can’t talk about their insecurities and are scared to make mistakes.

Psychological safety focuses on creating a healthy atmosphere that in turn allows athletes to thrive in and become the best athlete they can be. It focuses on being able to admit to making mistakes, learning from failures and openly sharing ideas. 

 

Resilience

Resilience is another one of those words that can often be misunderstood. It isn’t just something that athletes either have or don’t have. It can be developed, and coaches and parents can help athletes to grow in resilience. We believe this will continue to be a significant area in sport psychology, and hopefully aid athletes to become an even better athlete.

 

Pseudo-scientific ideas

Among coaches and all people in sport, different ideas get thrown about and many believe these ideas to be true. However, a lot of these theories are pseudo-scientific, meaning they are not based on the facts and have no research to back them up.

These pseudo-scientific theories need to become known to ensure athletes can be coached in a beneficial way, allowing them to reach their full potential and become the best athlete they can be. Incorrect coaching methods will not allow athletes to do this.

 

Final thoughts

This year has had many ups and downs, but we are grateful to be able to provide support to some of the best athletes in the country. We hope to continue to support not just the very top elite athletes, but also athletes of all levels and sport – and we can’t wait to see what 2022 brings in sport.

 

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