By Otavio Souza
Fans typically watch sports to see the physical elements of the games, but most of them are unaware of how many athletes prepare mentally to perform well under pressure. BYU coaches often count on psychologists to help their athletes with this important part of the game.
“I think our ability to perform skills at the highest level is what ends up winning matches and to be able to do that under great pressure takes a lot of mental fortitude; it takes a lot of confidence,” said BYU Volleyball Coach Rob Neilson.
BYU sports psychologist Marie Worsham helps athletes to develop the mental skill to think positively in tough situations.
“These skills that increase your positive thinking ability helps a lot because it enhances performance, changes your emotional state, and improves performance. I think that’s probably one of the aspects that underlies a lot of other skills,” Worsham said.
Patrick Kawka plays tennis for BYU, a sport that is usually compared with chess by its players.
“In tennis, what makes it so difficult is the mental aspect of it and how physically and mentally tiring it is and you still have to incorporate more of your mind,” Kawka said.
With their coaches’ help, the cougars are learning that they must physically and mentally prepare to perform their best.