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Sport and Exercise Psychology Services

The Essence of Sport Psychology

Danger, panic, fear, error, uncertainty, yes uncertainty. Trying to understand the mechanisms by which a sport psychologist helps people improve their performance is no easy task. But one thing common across all sport performance related activities I have noticed is the unending presence of uncertainty. Emotions and thoughts enter and exit with their associated impacts, but the puppet master at the heart of our performance maelstroms is uncertainty. It is this that creates the turmoil we often feel. Warning Signs Financial institutions tell us that "past performance is no guarantee of future performance". They also tell us "that performance can go down as well as up". What these warnings signs are asking us to accept is that whatever you do with your money the end result is going to be uncertain. I consider sport should contain the same risk warnings. The greater the amount of uncertainty you can tolerate the greater the potential reward. But those financial risks that are out of your control when you hand over your monies, need not apply to the sporting arena. Make a Friend of Uncertainty It is present as a swimmer stands poised on the starting blocks waiting for the gun to fire. It is present on the first tee as the golfer faces down the fairway and in the eye of the racquet holder when serving in any racquet sport. It is uncertainty and it is ever-present. So why make friends with it? Most humans do not like change in their lives. Part of the reason for this is that we are uncertain of what the future looks like if we choose to change it. We also have to change ourselves and our identity. It is all perfectly natural but uncertain. By choosing to accept uncertainty we can begin to access those realms of high reward that are naturally associated with it. By learning to accept an uncertain future, we can more usefully focus our attention on making that future rewarding to us rather than living in fear of it. No Easy Friend Don't be misled though about the ease with which uncertainty can be embraced. It is no easy bedfellow and requires a lot of hard work and persistence to become comfortable in its presence. However, the potential reward for such determined persistence will be worth it. As Villiers de L'Isle-Adam once said: "Uncertainty is a quality to be cherished, therefore – if not for it, who would dare to undertake anything? Villiers de L'Isle-Adam Enjoy making a new friend.
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