5 Sport Psych Myths Busted

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It is human nature for people to believe in myths. False ideas and opinions are shared all around the world from one person to the next. There are many sporting myths which, although are commonly accepted, are simply wrong. These myths can affect each and every athlete that strives to pursue excellence in their sport. This blog will specifically explore sports myths from a psychological lens!

Myth 1: “Some people are just born with a strong mentality”

This is simply false! Any athlete can build and strengthen their mental toughness. 

Truth:  Mental toughness is developed through overcoming small challenges on an everyday basis, otherwise known as being resilient. Consistently pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can train your mind to fight through those inevitable challenges. Choose to take the longer path when it would be easier to take a break. Stay after practice for an extra 10 minutes while your teammates head to the locker room. Small decisions that you make can ultimately strengthen your psyche. A strong mentality can be achieved by any athlete that is willing to change, psychologically. 

Myth 2: “You don't have to enjoy the sport to be successful”

While it is possible to have success in a sport that isn’t enjoyable, truly, how far can you actually get? For example, basketball Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant loved the game. He lived on the court, studied different basketball techniques and styles, and never gave up. What really drove him to be the best? His passion and love for the sport… and it showed on the court. 

Truth: To really be successful, the athlete has to crave the sport. The enjoyment and pleasure the sport brings can help an individual adopt new skills, and develop grit, perseverance, and hard work. An athlete can work hard every day without questioning “why?” because deep inside, they already know. Talent and genetics can only get you so far. Enjoying the process is almost, if not, more important than the end result. Achieving high-level success in a sport requires an athlete to love and enjoy the sport with more than their heart. 

Myth 3: “More training simultaneously leads to better mental and physical performance”

Every athlete knows that improving their practice performance can help them improve, but improper training or overtraining can obstruct those expected results. A lack of improvement can tremendously weaken your mentality. Giving up becomes tempting in this instance. Although training is essential, improper and excessive training can do more harm than good.

Truth: Excessive training can lead to injuries, inefficient work, and an ultimate decline in mental and athletic performance. Proper rest and recovery are essential to effective training. A proper training program improves performance and can lead to better results. Better results can lead to more confidence. Confidence transitions into a positive mindset, motivation, happiness, and overall physical and psychological domination, thus progressing to success. 

Myth 4:  “An athlete must specialize in the sport as early as possible or he/she will never be physically or psychologically successful” 

This common myth couldn’t be further from the truth. Mainly regarding youth sports, this myth can severely damage young athletes' mentality and love for the sport. It ignores many components of development for the athlete's athletic abilities. 

Truth: Not only does training time determine athletic performance, but coaching, passion, enjoyment, and talent all play a huge role in the growth of becoming a successful athlete. No studies have concluded that early specialization has a greater chance of long-term, high-level success. Any athlete that possesses the determination and work ethic of a champion becomes the champion. So if you start a sport late and feel further behind than your peers, don’t worry! Your passion and hard work will help you progress and succeed.

Myth 5: “Sports psychology is an easy fix for a struggling athlete”

Improving your mental game might not be as easy as it seems. Athletes do not immediately adapt to different mental strategies and ideas.

Truth: Learning and implementing mental training takes time! It takes work! It is no easy fix and certainly not a walk in the park. Practicing techniques such as goal setting and self-talk are required in mental improvement. Also, being consistent and motivated to improve is just as vital. To truly learn and consistently implement different skills and strategies when the pressure is on, you’ve got to put in the time and effort. The time you put in now will allow you to overpower your competition later. 

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Works Cited

Burridge, Pete. “6 Myths Sports Parents Need to Stop Believing.” STACK, 9 Apr. 2020, www.stack.com/a/6-myths-that-sports-parents-still-believe. 

Clear, James. “The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Health, Work, and Life.” James Clear, 4 Feb. 2020, jamesclear.com/mental-toughness#:~:text=Mental%20toughness%20is%20like%20a,worked%20to%20grow%20and%20develop.&text=Mental%20toughness%20is%20built%20through%20small%20wins.,think%20your%20way%20to%20it. 

Coleman, Patrick A. “‘There Are No Losers’ and 7 Other Awful Youth Sports Myths.” Fatherly, 8 May 2018, www.fatherly.com/parenting/8-youth-sports-myths-debunked/. 

Dr Linda Sterling. “Five Sport Psych Myths: Part 2.” Sterling Sport Mindset, 5 June 2018, drlindasterling.com/five-sport-psych-myths-part-2/.

Griffiths, Josh, and Josh Griffiths (43 Articles Published) “Top 20 Sports Myths People Actually Believe.” TheSportster, 9 Dec. 2015, www.thesportster.com/entertainment/top-20-sports-myths-people-actually-believe/. 


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