As I now complete the final part of my psychology course, one of the assessment questions is along the lines of the following: In the style of a diary entry, write an account of what you think might be a typical day in the working life of a sports psychologist.
Well, I've altered the question slightly for copyright purposes but you get my drift.
This really got me thinking because I compete at chess at a reasonable level and I also coach junior players. This apparently puts me in a somewhat favourable position to be able to answer this question with some authority. Perhaps a first for me?!
I am not a professional chess player but I am a "professional" in my work life and I understand the differences between professionalism (surveyor) and a “contractor” (general builder) and I like to think that I take at least some of this professionalism into my chess life.
When coaching and at an event with a group of kids, in my experience they all react very differently when they are in competition. Reactions can range from not seeming to care to being a complete and absolute neurotic mess.
The same can be said for some of the parents by the way! ;-)
My job as "coach" seems to be two-fold;
1) Get the kids to have faith in their ability, enjoy themselves and not to worry too much
2) Stop the parents from being “over protective” and to not “stroke out” from the stress
Therefore, I have now listed my own “10 point plan” for pre-competition along with what I instinctively feel is some very solid advice for after the game;
1) Analyse the opposition’s weaknesses and draw up a strategy to exploit them
2) Not over focussing on opposition strengths but not becoming complacent
3) Focus on OUR strengths and have faith in OUR ability and work ethic
4) Build up a “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” mentality
5) Reinforcement of our own ability
6) Remember that our opponent fears us and won’t want to be in the fight
7) Be calm and ENJOY!
8) Remembering at all times that, as long as we can state honestly and without prejudice, that we ALWAYS GIVE OUR BEST that defeat, although possible, is NEVER AN EXCUSE TO GIVE UP
9) Play appropriate inspirational and uplifting music
10) KICK ASS!
Appropriately suitable "inspirational and uplifting music"
Win, Lose or Draw – How did we feel? Is there anything we could have done better? Was our preparation satisfactory?
Did we work as hard as we could? If we lost, how are we going to prevent the same thing happening again? How will we learn from our experience?
Lastly and at ALL times
Can we state honestly and without prejudice, that we DID THE VERY BEST WE COULD?