The Olympics and Sport Psychology

Sport Psychology becomes very important during the Olympics for some athletes, like Magdalena Neuner. Neuner is a German biathlete (skier and rifle shooter) who recognizes that

One has to understand that physical fitness alone isn’t sufficient. My mental training is very complex and it makes me believe in myself…. To control your mind is more difficult than to control your body.

American athletes also use sport psychologists to train themselves mentally for the game. Notably, Lindsey Vonn (skier) and Scott Lago (snowboarder) use sport psychologists to help them overcome their anxieties before a game using techniques like visualization and biofeedback.

Despite the use of sport psychologists by many, however, some mock the use of sport psychology. Specifically, a Swedish reporter says

There are only losers who use sports psychologists. My God, when athletes start to scream for psychologists is when we know that they have already lost.

Also, it has been reported that the Swedes look down on the Norwegians who have

a bit desperately called in an entire army of mumbo-jumbo talk.

(See articles in the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor).

-Posted by Ashley

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  1. I had no idea the Swedes and the Norwegians were such fierce rivals. Who knew cross country skiing could be so dramatic.

  2. I know! It makes you rethink the common use of the country as a symbol of neutrality.

    • Adam
    • February 23rd, 2010

    Lindsay Vonn skis; she does not snowboard.
    It’s probably the word “sports” in sports psychologist that people react against.

  3. I stand corrected. Lindsey Vonn is a skier. Thanks for catching that. I corrected it.

    Also, what do you mean by people probably react to the word ‘sports?’ Are people against sports or is it the combination of sports with psychology that puts people off?

    • Adam
    • February 24th, 2010

    “Sports” is a synonym with “games” — i.e. the Olympic Games. I don’t think the general public thinks of sports as a fully Serious pursuit, while it’s not hard to imagine interdisciplinary work being done between the psychology department, kinesiology profs, and the athletic department. If it’s a matter of money, then sports (college and pro) are a very serious pursuit.
    BTW, could Variety Psychology debate whether psychologists should work with interrogators? I know that’s one of the hot debates right now. Instead of a single post, your bloggers could debate!
    –adam s.

  4. That’s an interesting point. I think it is also interesting that some of the athlete’s themselves, have a problem with it (i.e., some Swedes).

    Your debate idea is also interesting. Perhaps we will post something on the topic ;o)

  5. I have a sport psychology consultant that I see for my sport, track and field, but Heather Mcphie and Jaret “speedy” Peterson meet with the same guy, and they did pretty well at the Oly’s. this guy recently published a sports psych book, The Fearless Mind

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