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How Sports Psychologists Help Athletes Handle Pressure

Sports psychologists help athletes learn how to manage the pressures of competition. They work with athletes to develop strategies to boost performance, deal with anxiety and mental blocks, and understand the stress of competition. In this article, we’ll discuss how sports psychologists can help athletes manage pressure.

What Is a Sports Psychologist? 

A sports psychologist is a mental health professional who helps athletes cope with mental and emotional issues. They don’t just help athletes with competition, though. They also help them develop coping skills to achieve long-term success. By using a range of techniques, including cognitive-behavioural therapy, relaxation techniques, and visualization, a sports psychologist can help athletes become more confident and better equipped to handle pressure.

The Psychology Behind Pressure and Performance

Pressure affects athletes’ performance in a variety of ways. The pressure of competition can lead to increased anxiety, which can cause a person to become overly nervous or feel like they’re not performing at their best. Additionally, it can lead to mental blocks that prevent athletes from being able to focus or perform to their potential.

How Sports Psychologists Help Athletes Handle Pressure

Sports psychologists use a variety of methods to help athletes manage pressure. They help athletes to recognize and understand their fears and anxieties and develop strategies to cope with them. Additionally, they work to improve their performance through relaxation strategies, anxiety counselling, therapy, and focusing techniques. Here are some of the ways that sports psychologists help athletes deal with the pressures of competition:

1. Creating a Positive Mindset

Sports psychologists help athletes develop a positive mindset and focus on their strengths. This enables athletes to stay focused on their goals, work through their fears and anxieties, and believe in their own abilities to do well.

2. Mental Rehearsal

Sports psychologists help athletes use mental rehearsal to practice for an upcoming competition. Mental rehearsal gives athletes the opportunity to envision themselves having a successful performance and to practice the strategies they need to overcome their fears.

3. Relaxation Strategies

Relaxation strategies are important for athletes to use in order to stay focused in competition and manage their stress. Sports psychologists can help athletes learn deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to reduce stress and help them stay calm and confident in competition.

4. Goal Setting

Goal setting is an important part of any athlete’s success. Sports psychologists can help athletes develop realistic and achievable goals and then create a plan to reach those goals. This can include setting short-term and long-term goals, breaking down tasks into manageable steps, and using positive reinforcement to stay motivated.

5. Coping with Injury and Loss

Injuries and losses are an inevitable part of sports. Sports psychologists can help athletes cope with these setbacks by teaching them how to manage their emotions and refocus their energy on their goals. They can also help athletes develop strategies for dealing with losses and setbacks.


Sports psychologists provide athletes with the skills they need to handle the pressure of competition. They help athletes develop positive mindsets, practice mental rehearsal, use relaxation strategies, and set performance-based goals. By learning these skills, athletes can stay focused and confident and better manage the pressures of competition.

To learn more about sports psychologists and other forms of occupational therapy, it’s best to speak with a professional like those from Virtuous Circle Counselling. We provide Calgary counselling services that can help athletes and other individuals manage their emotions and gain the mental focus they need to succeed. Our role is to facilitate change within the individual and to provide support and guidance on the journey to reaching their goals. For in-person and online counselling in Calgary, reach out to us today.

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We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.