Week 4 – “The Sport Psychologist’s Handbook” by Joaquin Dosil

This week I decided to take a different turn, going from modern and sexy sport psychology books to a more fundamental and serious one. This book is called the Sport Psychologist’s Handbook for a reason, with 43 contributors from all over the world Dosil has managed to create a handbook for the newcomers in sport psychology and how they can offer a better service.

This book presents the key elements which sport psychologists should take into consideration if they want to become qualified in the applied field, under the premise that the greater their specialization in a sporting discipline, the better the service they can offer.

This book aims to fill the contemporary void in sport psychology training. It offers action guidelines used by some of the most important professionals in the world for each specific sport to achieve sport psychology peak performance. This book is like a dictionary and guideline all gathered in one book, recommended to any sports psychologist hoping to work in the field.

I will try to make this blog interesting, but it will be hard since this book is a manual for those who want to become sports psychologists. It begins with a general “introduction to working with athletes.” It then branches out into five chapters dealing with the basics that sport psychologists should take into consideration before working in the applied field. Starting with, educational training, coach-athlete relationships, the athlete’s family, and interventions in the sport, through assessment, evaluation, and ending with counseling.

After that, there is a section for each of the 26 sports and how to approach each. The sports being: basketball, football (soccer), baseball, rugby, handball, cricket, athletics, tennis, golf, cycling, martial arts, wrestling, ice hockey, figure skating, sailing and windsurfing, rowing, surfing, motorcycling, archery, dressage, showjumping, polo, fitness activities, bodybuilding, gymnastics and athletes with disabilities.

I have to admit that I did not read every page of this book because it would take me way over a week to finish it. Instead, I read portions that I fancied. Each chapter is specifically structured the following way: first a description of the sport and the psychological aspects, then a description of general psychological aspect evaluation is described, and lastly how it’s all put into work out on the field. This gives all the readers a specific psychological strategy to study in each specific sport.

At the end of the book, there is a little Q&A where questions like “what kind of a relationship should an athlete and sports psychologist have?” are answered.

What is the mental peak performance? Athletes who achieve maximum mental control and deliver excellent performance in any circumstance. They have learned how to apply all of the mental techniques on a conscious and unconscious level when facing adversity. They are always in full control of themselves and what they can do to maximize their performance.

Then, I came across the definition of “toughness” and this was one of the most interesting passages throughout the book. Dosil and his college’s mean that the definition of mental “toughness” is different depending on the situation.

For example, a basketball player who grew up struggling and perhaps having quite some issues during childhood learned to “forget” or “ignore” those while playing the sport two hours a day. On the other hand, a basketball player who did grow up with the same external challenged instead had damaging and perhaps traumatizing experiences that came with the sport. Both athletes were mentally challenged and damaged in one way. However, the first example is looked at as a “tough athlete” while the other is a “soft one” when talking about mental strength.

In my opinion, both athletes have completely different backgrounds with different reasons to be mentally damaged/severely challenged. So, I wouldn’t compare the two, I would agree with Dosil and say that there are two different types of toughnesses. One external and one internal in regards to the sport.

Until next week, think about your definition of mental toughness.

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