Continuing our 5 Things You Need to Know About Sport Psychology…
#1 – Sport Psychology is not “psychology”
#2 – Sport Psychology is as much proactive measure as it is a reactive one
we now bring you #3 – Sport Psychology is about Fun
The reason that people play sports, coach sports, watch sports, and get their kids involved in sports boils down to one thing: having fun. Sure, there are other very valuable reasons – to be active, to meet new people, to be part of something bigger than yourself, to compete, to learn – but what is the common denominator for all these reasons? Because it’s fun.
Whether you are a young athlete, a professional athlete, a coach, or a sports parent, keeping this in mind is crucial to the athlete’s performance and success.
In study after study, survey after survey, fun is one of the top reason kids give for participating in youth sports is fun. But what is fun? According to a George Washington University study:
“The 11 fun factors lie within the fundamental tenets and include Being a good sport, Trying hard, Positive coaching, Learning and improving, Game time support, Games, Practices, Team friendships, Mental bonuses, Team rituals, and Swag.”
But is sports supposed to be ‘fun’ for the pros? Isn’t it their job? Sometimes hard work isn’t fun, right? Well, let’s let a couple of professional athletes have to say about their participation in sports.
Derek Jeter: “The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward.”
Lionel Messi: “Football is a game. I’m trying to have fun on the pitch, always just to play. That’s why I do it. The day I stop having fun is the day I retire.”
For coaches, it’s very important that you keep fun in mind to get the most out of your athletes. That doesn’t mean to lower your expectations, or not ask your athletes to sacrifice, work hard, deal with pressure, face adversity, and push themselves to do things they may not want to do. It comes down to perspective.
Here’s how much legendary UNC basketball coach Dean Smith (RIP) thought about his players having fun:
“He would tell us in those tight games, ‘Isn’t this what you came to Carolina for? Isn’t this fun?’ That’s how he was in every huddle. He used those as an opportunity for us to showcase our skills and what we had learned and worked on throughout the year in practice.” – JR Smith, former Tarheel
Sports parents are a young athlete’s first advocate in providing a great environment for fun. It’s their job to see the bigger picture and make sure the athletic experience is enjoyable. But oftentimes they end up putting more pressure on the athlete, and being just another detractor from the fun. From this Michigan State University study, you can keep yourself in check by following the two simple rules:
1 – Peace on the car ride home! After competition, give yourself and your young athlete time to emotionally process the day’s events, and re-convene at a later time to talk about the performance.
2 – Six simple words to say right after the game: “I love to watch you play.” Or in other words, if your kid knows that you had fun, that enhances their fun.
Sport psychology is about fun. Having confidence, staying motivated, putting in maximum effort, blocking distractions, controlling emotions, rising to challenges, pushing through adversity – those are essential elements to peak performance. They are also pretty fun to be able to do on a consistent basis. As an athlete, coach or parent, if you are losing the fun, we can help you get it back. Contact SPINw to talk to one of our consultants to get started.