By Dr. Allison Belger
Serious athletes training for sport often seek the services and guidance of a variety of specialists. From massage therapists, to chiropractors, to running or gymnastics coaches, it often “takes a village” to keep athletes going strong in their sport of choice. Perhaps you can relate: you may pay a specialty coach or follow certain blogs or consult with experts you hope will propel you to the next level of awesome.
In our pursuit of optimal performance, both in sport and in life, we often forget a critical factor affecting us in profound and complex ways: our psychological profile and functioning. While sport psychologists are increasingly included as part of an athlete’s team of advisors–a good thing–what I am referring to here is a different kind of attention given to caring for our psychological selves.
Many athletes at all levels–including the serious, elite, and everyday–fail to address the fundamental aspect of who they are. Since our psychological functioning affects everything we do, it behooves us to take a good look at what’s going on inside and to take seriously the impact of our personalities and emotional standing in all areas of our lives.
We hear it all the time: train your weaknesses. We are told to be sure to attack physical skills that challenge us most, so that we may be well rounded and efficient in our athletic endeavors. But we sometimes ignore the biggest weakness of all—the one that affects us most profoundly, both on and off the field: our psyches, the foundation of who we are and how we function. Our psychological vulnerabilities are present in all we do–from our training and performance in sport, to our jobs, to our hobbies, to our relationships.
This week’s post is meant to serve as a reminder to explore your psychological self, possibly with the help of a psychologist. If you are struggling with any aspect of your life, do yourself a favor and address the foundation of all you do. Get back to basics. Deal with the forces that make you tick. Like a smart coach who pushes you to rework the technique of your front squat, deadlift or pushup, a savvy therapist will help you address the most fundamental aspects of who you are. You’re in this for the long haul, after all, and the sooner you do the work to create a stronger foundation, the more likely you are to achieve your desired goals, both in sport and in life.
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