Sport may require hours and even years of

Sport may require hours and even years of

Sport is defined as an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often a competitive nature (Websters). Since the creation of man, sports have played a huge part in the way people live their lives. The world today is consumed by sports. What is it about the competition and the games that make us so drawn to something that consumes so much of our time? From the time we are born, until the time we die, most of us are in some way involved with competitive physical activity.

Whether it was gym class in elementary school, varsity basketball in high school, or even professional baseball as a career, sports have an influential role in our everyday lives. Children are taught at a young age to love sports and that they are a necessary part of life. Why is it essential that children be placed in sporting activities? Other than the joy of participating in the sport itself, there are several valuable lessons learned by young athletes through the involvement of sports that make them better, well rounded, people in life. Lessons learned through the participation in sports include psychological skills, self-confidence, and motivation (Hardy).

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These lessons empower young athletes to be more successful as they are applied to their normal lives. Whether the sport is gymnastics, golf, or even hockey, psychological skills become key in the development of a successful athlete. Not only do these skills play an important role in how an athlete performs in his game or routine, but they also help develop character, building skills off of the field. The first of the very important psychological skills learned is that of goal setting (Hardy and Jones, 19). In every sport it is vital to the athlete to learn how to set goals and accomplish them successfully. Goals should be difficult but realistic, important, and accepted by the athletes so that they will commit themselves to them. Every competitive athlete wants to win first place and in order for that goal to be met, he or she has to set that goal and make guidelines in order to obtain the prize.

This may require hours and even years of practice to become the best athlete possible. Bonnie Blair, 1988 Olympic speed skater says, Having that ultimate goal and knowing those steps are what youve got to take in order to get to that ultimate goal makes it easier to comprehend (Mertzman, 300). Its like child in school. If you wind up doing your homework, you are hopefully going to be able to get those good grades. For Blair, if she did those workouts and spent the countless hours on the ice, she would hopefully get the results that she wanted.

Goal setting pertains to any athlete and any person in life who wants to achieve an ultimate goal. Imagery and mental rehearsal is the second psychological skill learned in most sports that can be applied to everyday life. Imagery perspective refers to the basic distinction between internal and external imagery which Mahoney and Avener (1977) described as follows: In external imagery, a person views himself from the perspective of an external observerInternal imagery, on the other hand, requires an approximation of the real life phenomenology such that the person actually imagines being inside his/ her body and experiencing those sensations which might be expected in the actual situation (p.137).

In a sport such as gymnastics it is detrimental for a gymnast to learn how to picture himself doing routines in competition and practice. When it comes down to the actual competition when a gymnast has to perform his routine, it is proven that the routine will have a better outcome if the gymnast has learned the skill of mental imagery (Mertzman, 62). This learned skill of imagery can be beneficial to those who learn to use the skill in other parts of their lives as well. Young people have far better chances of becoming what they want to be later in life if they learn the skill of imagining themselves in that situation (Roberts, 1976). Self-confidence is an extremely important skill learned through sport that is detrimental to the well being of individuals throughout life.

A study done showed that greater precollege sport participation predicted higher self-esteem (Richman). They foster positive body images, enhance perceptions of physical competence, and more flexible gender identities, which in turn, predict higher self esteem. As athletes become competitive and earn rewards for their efforts, at any level, it places in them a desire to become better. This encouragement builds greater self-image (Thomas, 155).

It is important that each individual athlete believes in himself and knows that he is capable of performing any feat. Confidence is distinguished between successful and less successful performers. In a study done by Mahoney and Avener in 1977, 13 gymnasts involved in the final trial for the 1976 United States Olympic team were questioned and administered for 48 hours before the trial competition.

In comparing he data of those who qualified with those who did not qualify for the team, the questionnaire data showed that the qualifiers tended to be more self-confident. Mahoney, and Avener also reported a higher frequency of gymnastic performance-related dreams among the successful gymnasts, within which they tended to see themselves being successful. One of the most important skills learned through sport is that of motivation.

To say that elite performers must be highly motivated is a statement of the obvious. However, extremely high levels of motivation may be necessary to repeatedly produce the kind of high quality training sessions that are required for elite performance (Hardy and Parfitt, 1994). There are several factors involved in the motivation process. As for the younger aged athlete, motivations can include those such as school or even family obligations. Along with the incentives of winning games or placing in a sporting event, come the results outside of the sports realm.

Bonnie Blair stated that once she became a better athlete and had the success within her sport, she began to see tremendous improvement in her schoolwork (Mertzman, 300). It is proven that young athletes who participate in sports see improvement in their discipline skills applied to school and other responsibilities (Green, 1142). There are athletic teams and organizations for just about every educational institution in the world.

There has to be some kind of incentive or motivation for those who participate on the teams to make the grades in school as well as perform on the field. Most institutions have grade point requirements that have to be met in order for the student athlete to actively participate in the sport. Meeting this requirement serves as the motivation for a lot of student athletes. When asked if he could convey ideas to young athletes still in grade school who are not as interested in their schooling as much as their sporting accomplishments, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar replied, I would tell young athletes that their athletic dreams are great.

Those dreams will motivate them to do wonderful things, but that cant be the only motivation that they have in their lives (Mertzman, 296). There is more to life than sports, but being actively involved in sporting activities at a young age will develop lifelong skills that will benefit individuals outside of the sporting realm. Skills including psychological, self-confidence, and motivation, will be of great support to those who use and exhibit the skills on other areas of their lives.Bibliography:

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