Psychological, or mental, factors can have a major effect on how well a sportsperson performs. These relate to the individual’s state of mind.

Motivation is very important in sport; it pushes you to keep going or to work harder. The amount of motivation you have is known as arousal. If you’re feeling bored then it’s very easy to quickly become unmotivated.

Being too anxious or annoyed will also have a negative effect on performance because these kinds of emotion cause the body to tense up.

This is why feedback is so important: it helps you to stay focused and keep motivated. However, as long as it’s given in the right way: if a coach points out only your bad points and fails to look at any of your positives then this can be very demotivating.

There are methods that can help with motivation. For example, some sportspeople mental prepare themselves by using relaxation techniques. A good diet can assist with the ability to make good decisions and concentrate. Also, the more experience a player has, the better they can understand themselves and know what motivates them best.

The sport you choose in the first place will be dictated by the sort of person you are:

      • Extroverts are outgoing people. They tend to need a lot of motivation from others in order to keep their arousal levels high. They usually opt for games which are unpredictable and so require open skills, for example rugby.
      • Introverts, on the other hand, are shyer in comparison. They require calm and focused team mates in order for their arousal levels to stay lower; higher levels will cause their performance levels to drop. They tend to opt for sports in which the environment can be controlled and so require closed skills, for example snooker

There are also games that require:

      • direct aggression which involves direct contact with other players like in boxing or wrestling
      • indirect aggression where players want to ‘beat’ each but there’s no direct contact, like with tennis or badminton