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  • Mental Toughness Tips #4: What is Sport Psychology?

    On occasion, athletes find themselves in a “flow state” or in “the zone.” During these moments, they effortlessly perform at their best. They lose all sense of time and perform without thinking. If someone can string enough of these moments together it is often referred to as a “hot streak” or “going on a tear.” However, these moments are few and far between, even for the most disciplined and gifted individuals. The vast majority of time athletes must face their inner doubts and struggle both physically and mentally. These are the times when an individual’s mindset or mental skills can either hamper their performance or give them a competitive edge.

    What is sport psychology?

    Sport psychology is defined by the American Psychological Association Division 47 as “the study and application of psychological principles of human performance in helping athletes consistently perform in the upper range of their capabilities and more thoroughly enjoy the sport performance process.”

    In other words, sport psychology is the study of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors influence athletic performance. Here at the CBT Center of Southern California, Dr. Jason von Stietz uses evidence-based and time-tested approaches to helping athletes improve not only their performance but their mental wellbeing.

    What can sport psychology help?

    Sometimes athletes are unable to perform at their best because of unhelpful beliefs. Other times athletes are already performing well and are looking for a competitive edge. Dr. Jason von Stietz can help them by teaching them skills including:

    • Focus/Refocus
    • Growth mindset
    • Team-building
    • Goal setting
    • Positive self-talk
    • Mindfulness
    • Confidence
    • Bouncing back from setbacks
    • Managing anxiety
    • Performance routines
    • More!

    At times, more serious issues can impact athletic performance (e.g. depression, anxiety, or emotional trauma). Although athletic endeavors are often highly rewarding, they can also be very stressful. Athletes can often feel immense pressure to perform well and achieve outcomes that are not fully within their control (e.g. lead their team to victory). This pressure to perform can significantly impact an athlete’s wellbeing. Dr. Jason von Stietz has extensive experience helping athletes with both performance and mental health issues. He can help athletes improve their mental health without losing their competitive edge.

    Do I need to be an elite athlete to try sport psychology? 

    No! Sport psychology can benefit anyone who is interested in performing at their best. Youth athletes, high school, collegiate, and master’s level athletes can all benefit. Sport psychology skills can play a role helping athletes reach the next level of competition (e.g. high school to college). It can also help athletes to maintain their longevity and current level of abilities such as master’s level athletes seeking to continue challenging themselves

    What now?

    If you are interested in learning more about whether or not sport psychology is right for you, schedule a free phone consultation with Dr. Jason von Stietz!

    Author Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He is available for a free initial phone consultation. Dr. von Stietz works with individuals from Long Beach, the greater Los Angeles area, and the South Bay including Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and El Segundo.