Over the next few weeks,the Olympics will no doubt generate many headlines focusing on inspirational stories, unexpected successes, good/bad television ratings, and even scandals.
But here’s a fact you probably won’t hear much about: With each Olympics, countries throughout the world rely more heavily on sports psychology to help their athletes achieve success and win gold.
Canada, for example, is hoping to rebound from their disappointing 2002 effort by sending 12 psychologists with their team to the Olympics in Turin, instead of the seven they sent to Salt Lake. The U.S. took just two psychology experts to Lillehammer in 1994, and then attempted to achieve greater success by taking 11 to Salt Lake.
Why this increased reliance on sports psychology?
Simple. Sports psychology works.
Numerous studies have shown that the techniques of sports psychology significantly enhance success and performance. That’s particularly true in the Olympics, when the different between gold and silver is often hundredths of a second or fractions of a point. When physical performances are nearly equal, the mental edge determines winning and losing. Psychology becomes crucial to success.