Do Sports Psychologists Work?

AHJS

Professional
I've had mind problems from the time I started the game. I've been through it all- getting incredibly frustrated, lacking confidence, etc. I'm wondering whether it would be worth my time working with a sports psychologist, or do I just have to grow out of these things myself?
 

Ihatetennis

Hall of Fame
I've had mind problems from the time I started the game. I've been through it all- getting incredibly frustrated, lacking confidence, etc. I'm wondering whether it would be worth my time working with a sports psychologist, or do I just have to grow out of these things myself?
They work, I went from first round loses at champs to winning a tournament and being top 60 in supers
 

mbm0912

Hall of Fame
What level of play are you looking to achieve? You must be quite serious about a future in competition to see a shrink about it.
 

coupergear

Professional
Sports are supposed to be fun. Yes, we work hard to learn and improve and there are times of frustration over poor performance or lack of progression, but it's all for fun. Imo spending money on a sports therapist to try to make it fun is counterproductive. Pick up something else.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
I've had mind problems from the time I started the game. I've been through it all- getting incredibly frustrated, lacking confidence, etc. I'm wondering whether it would be worth my time working with a sports psychologist, or do I just have to grow out of these things myself?
If you're having the same problems off the court, those need to be addressed first and foremost, outside of the sports context.
Even then, a lot of frustrated, non-confident players seem to do very well without any treatment. Vinci says she had zero confidence in beating Williams.
 

Devil_dog

Hall of Fame
As I've read and understand, he is a young junior player hoping to go far in the game. I'm not certain what his achievements are but he seems pretty skilled.

Question: do you work with a coach? If so, what does he/she say to help with your mental aspect of the game? I'm not suggesting a coach can replace a sports psyche but often having a coach whose had experience at a high level of play can often help impart good wisdom to help you over come some issues before and during competition.

Good luck.
 

Easy Rider

Professional
I've had mind problems from the time I started the game. I've been through it all- getting incredibly frustrated, lacking confidence, etc. I'm wondering whether it would be worth my time working with a sports psychologist, or do I just have to grow out of these things myself?
You have to be cooperative and willing to do/change certain things. In that case, it worth it
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
I've had mind problems from the time I started the game. I've been through it all- getting incredibly frustrated, lacking confidence, etc. I'm wondering whether it would be worth my time working with a sports psychologist, or do I just have to grow out of these things myself?
Deiton Baughman has a sports psychologist so i'm guessing it works for him.
 

AHJS

Professional
As I've read and understand, he is a young junior player hoping to go far in the game. I'm not certain what his achievements are but he seems pretty skilled.

Question: do you work with a coach? If so, what does he/she say to help with your mental aspect of the game? I'm not suggesting a coach can replace a sports psyche but often having a coach whose had experience at a high level of play can often help impart good wisdom to help you over come some issues before and during competition.

Good luck.
I work with 3 coaches, high school coach, private coach, and coach at my academy.
I've talked with the ladder two about it, and they have imparted some wisdom.
 

AHJS

Professional
Did they recommend you speak to a sport psyc or recommend against it
They didn't recommend it, but didn't recommend against it. They seemed to be neutral on the matter.
My parents probably would be against it, because of the cost and transit time required to see them, which is why I am making sure it would really be worth it.
 

AHJS

Professional
I think it would be an excellent idea if you think it would be. You should discuss with your coaches how that fits into your process and performance goals. You need to be aware that a sport psyc is going to guide you towards using skills that youll need to practice and refine in the same way you would a forehand or serve. Its not going to be a quick fix but it should be a quicker fix than spending years working it out on your own.
Great, I figured as much :) Thanks a lot
 

Oz_Rocket

Professional
For up and coming juniors I personally think it is one of the most underestimated and underutilised facets of developing your game. You wouldn't wait to grow out of a bad ball toss for example, you'd work on it with a coach, and the same goes for developing mental toughness.

Very few kids are born with a natural killer instinct and ability to control their emotions and behaviour on court. Pretty much everyone has to work on it, a lot.

Even if you don't go down the professional path for now, there are plenty of things you can try to see what works. One my son uses if he's getting frustrated is he taps the ball to his head to transfer all his bad thoughts to it before serving them to his opponent. Or bouncing on your feet if you're feeling negative. Another thing is to ignore the match and take it one point at a time, filling your head with useful and positive thoughts like consciously focussing on trying to pick your opponent's serve, seeing how well they can pick your serve or just watch them for "tells". The more time you spend thinking about your opponent, tactics, etc the less headspace there is for negative thoughts about yourself. Who knows he or she could be just as nervous and worried about their game as you are!

Or if you're stubborn like me, say to yourself you won't give your opponent the satisfaction of seeing you get angry. Tell yourself when the match is over you'll allow yourself to indulge in releasing that anger by kicking a wall, screaming out loud, etc. If they belt a hard to get winner, don't think "how can I beat that?" but "that's your one lucky shot, try it again". If you go into a tiebreak, tell yourself I am going to win this and make a statement of your intent as early as possible. If you're going to lose, lose on your terms, not on theirs. Google is your friend and try what you can until you find something that works.

I've worked with my son a lot on mental discipline to the point where he recently went to a national teams championship, with everyone he played ranked well above him. He beat plenty of players ranked 20-40 in the country for his age (he's always been just inside the top 100), took a lot of games off those ranked 10-20, won 3 of his 4 match tiebreaks and came back from 7-5 5-1 40-0 down to win another match. He just doesn't give up and will always back himself, finding a way to put pressure on the other player. And this is a kid who just over a year ago was smashing racquets and thinking he'd never be able to hold it together on court long enough to play his best tennis.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
I agree with our pal Oz Rocket in terms of the importance of emotional and psychological guidance, especially for younger developing players (it's certainly a big deal for adults, too). When I initially got into teaching and also coaching at the high school level, my focus was mostly centered on technique and strategy - more "nuts 'n bolts" empirical issues. After a few years though, I started digging into materials based more in the mental aspects of the game.

Mental Tennis by Vic Braden was the book that gave me a whole new perspective toward the game. I wanted to get sharper as a player and this book helped me substantially in that department, but it also made me much more aware and capable as a coach. Every few pages during my first reading kept me thinking that I wished I'd had this book handy back in my high school days. A couple of kids I've coached in recent years have also enjoyed this read after taking me up on my recommendation.

If you haven't taken a little time to crack a book or two from a qualified author, I'd say you sound ready to absorb a little new stuff. Aside from Braden, I've also found good nuggets of wisdom in books by Allen Fox, Brad Gilbert, and even Nick Bollettieri. You can work through a book or two in your spare time and you might get great bang for your buck this way compared with actually hiring a sports psychologist. In my opinion, this is probably a smart "square one" for you.
 
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