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Influence Of The Mind: A Look Into The Study Of Sports Psychology

1333 words - 6 pages

“All living things seek to be in harmony with their own nature. To the degree harmony is achieved, optimal functioning and performance is possible. To the degree harmony is blocked, optimal functioning is impaired,” (Bennet, Pravitz 68). Many say that the mind is a mystery; there are no clear lines, no black and white, only grey, blurred imaginary boundaries in ones subconscious. Still, psychologists and trainers have for years managed to manipulate the psyche of the “stars” of human refinement through physical performance. The connections between mind, body, and soul are age-old ideologies that influenced the creation of sports psychology and the perfection of human harmony by inspiring ...view middle of the document...

After a lifetime of research Csikszentmihalyi discovered that the state of what he called “flow” was achieved with a perfect balance of skill and challenge. When interviewed by Csikszentmihalyi, a musician describes the perfect flow by feeling inner peace while composing a piece of music, “You are in an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you don’t exist. I have experienced this time and time again. My hand seems devoid of myself, and I have nothing to do with what is happening. I just sit there watching it in a state of awe and wonderment. And [the music] just flows out of itself” (Csikszentmihalyi 2004). Csikszentmihalyi began the basis of what all sports psychologists base their studies off of; the flow is what is believed to be the key to happiness. You cannot perfect your inner capability without first being happy with what you are doing.
Johannes Heinrich Schultz’s book Le rêve de Schultz/ Yves Baumstimler, was his first publication which discussed his new discoveries in what he called “autogenic training”. This, he claimed, was a form of self-hypnosis that was presumed to boost relaxation. However, not even he expected his autogenic theory to have any true connection between emotional and bodily states, let alone for it to apply to the enhancement of athletic performance. The idea that one can train their mind to enter a state of relaxation and calm is often the first go-to trick for athletes when in a stressful and high risk situation. It was not until self-proclaimed psychologist Jim Loehr came into the lime light of the field that athletes really became interested in the enhancement of their mind as well as their bodies. Loehr came across what is still referred to as the “Holy Grail” of all performance psychological discoveries. He created what he called the “Ideal Performance State” (IPS) or as he preferred to call it, “mental toughness”. The IPS is a human state of high positive energy and gives one the opportunity to perform surreally outside of their capabilities and skill sets. Mental toughness has proved itself indeed to be the Holy Grail of discoveries and remains a huge contributor to the larger American sports psychology industry.
The theory behind mental toughness is an extensive process that requires the cooperation of both mental and physical control, “The mind and body are one; mental toughness is not just something you can sit in a room and visualize and all of a sudden you’re mentally tough. The ability to handle physical stress takes us right into the ability to handle mental and emotional stress” (Loehr 2). Though the road to building mental strength is a long road, a majority of the journey is belief in one’s self. In the book Mind Gym, Gary Mack reflects on the 1996 Las Vegas Golf Invitational and Tiger Woods’ performance there. He recalls how confident Woods was during the whole grueling competition. When Tiger finally received his first big win as a young athlete, he was interviewed...

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