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An Insight Into The World Of Sports Psychology By Dr Olivia Hurley

As we prepare to enter into a new year, one sport event is likely to capture the hearts and minds of many people around the world, namely, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. As a former athlete, and now academic, research and applied sport psychologist, engaged in a career I adore, I’m very excited by the prospect of what great experiences could unfold in the months ahead, for many athletes.

For such athletes, a 2020 goal is likely to be producing their ‘peak’ performances at those Summer Olympic Games. As a scientific, evidence-based, accredited sport psychology practitioner, while I aim to assist such athletes to achieve those desired feats, I am also reminded of how much the discipline of sport psychology has evolved in recent times. No longer is, nor should, performance enhancement be the dominating feature of conversations, when advising athletes, of any age, gender or level of performance. Athletes’ wellbeing and life management skills, including the combining of their sport pursuits alongside their other, just as important, life roles and interests (such as studying, socializing, setting up businesses and engaging in hobbies - music playing, for example) should be the
primary focus of such interactions.

Many recently published research studies have uncovered how some very successful athletes encounted the most challenging, and unfortunately health-debilitating, experiences of their careers when a facilitate environment, characterized by ‘high challenge’ and ‘high support’, was not their reality - it
should be. Athletes typically perform at their best in competition when they are challenged in training and when their social and emotional needs are also being prioritized, with an emphasis being placed on recovery, rest and fun-filled days too!

So, as we enter into 2020, I remain excited by the prospect of what this year will bring in the arena of sport, while also being acutely aware that what makes people, athlete or not, ‘awesome’, is a combination of lots of qualities they possess and display. They should not be defined solely by any year or any sport performance. Seeing athletes as people first, with flaws, as well as great qualities, should be practiced not just preached. Real greatness in any person is portrayed by acts of kindness, a willingness to learn from mistakes, an ability to embrace life’s challenges and a desire to inspire others by being #AwesomeInAction.

I look forward to sharing more topics related to these modern-day principles of ‘2020 Sport Psychology’ in my e-book, published here by the Fitness Collective next year.

Wishing you all a wonderful end to 2019 and Bring-It-On 2020! …… #BeBrave

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