Performance Analysis and Sports Psychology are perhaps the two newest additions to the strings of the sports science bow. Documents of their effectiveness are individual entities are becoming more widespread; with professional governing bodies and clubs rapidly expanding and creating departments in recent years. However, despite the fact that support roles complement each other, how often do departments interact?
It is not always completely obvious the ways in which different departments can interact. For example, GPS Analysts communicating with Performance Analysis staff to produce and complete reports; physiotherapists communicate to seek footage of how the injury happened or psychologists getting involved with motivational videos.
The latter point is possibly the most underused as yet. Particularly in individual sports there have been high profile cases where Sport Psychologists have played an integral role in their success. The successes of Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton have thrown Steve Peters into the media spot light. Victoria Pendleton earlier on this year described Steve as “an incredible human being” and someone who “helped me to put everything into perspective in my life.” In addition to individual success, psychologists have been utilised in team sports most recently being named as Psychologist to England’s Football Team in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup in Rio, Brazil. Steve has already worked with Liverpool Football Club leading to Steven Gerrard to sing his praises adding “If the players buy into what he says, it will help. He is the best. I’ve played my most consistent form for Liverpool and England since seeing Steve.”
Psychology is used for a variety of reasons. It is most well-known for being able to describe what makes people tick. By being able to decipher what techniques boost the athlete and which ones staring down a perpetual cliff can be key to defining the athlete’s careers. Psychological profiling is now common place as is performance profiles of athletes and teams. Rhythms of behaviour and performance can be analysed to find positives and negatives. From this it is both a psychologist’s and performance analysts aim to eliminate negatives from athletes’ performances. To effectively get under the skin of athletes we can combine these roles. This leads us back to the motivational video. Motivation is often cited as a key component of athlete performance. Previous articles on The Sport in Mind site have discussed motivation and its various types:
So we know of its importance. Performance Analysis can be as much about presentation as the number crunching. Managers, coaches and athletes do not want to be bogged down by pages and pages of numbers so it is essential that reports are compiled and presented in a user friendly format. This normally takes shape in video clips that back up the statistical analysis. In post-match analysis, video is used to highlight certain actions (goals, shots, passes, tackles etc). This can be presented showing the full team or relevant to each individual player. Many clubs now highlight that each player can view their every action from every match as a whole or as individual clips.
However, this use of video does not affect player’s pre-match. Although motivational videos can be created to show a player’s highlights of a season or used to show comedy moments, again this use may not be its most powerful one. By producing a video with a powerful message, sometimes alongside one which is more subtle and pairing with the right music, an image of confidence, positivity and the ability to produce a fearless performance. Lots of images where an action that produces a winning point (whether that be a goal, basket etc) alongside examples of perfect passages of play conjure that visual image of success, whilst quotes can be added to instil the team motto and message. Overlaying motivational language and music provides the audio image which the players take out with them repeating over and over.
Where the psychologist comes in could be the music choices. Identifying music which reflects team tastes has some importance to keep them involved and interested. It should also reflect the core message and influence the team in the right way. This has already been discussed briefly on The Sport in Mind:
Timing of the video ideally should be between warm up and match performance, when the final manager team talk takes place for example. Instead of overloading with direction players could just be shown a motivation video which epitomises the manager’s message. The music and message should build up slowly, increasing the player’s heart rates slowly to peak at the end when they are about to perform.