Self – Perception in Sport

As an athlete you are told that agility, stamina, and strength are the most important characteristics toward success. In reality if you have confidence that you are the most agile and strong it will take you much farther. As athletes we cannot underestimate the power of mind over matter. Self-perception plays a major role in sports so as coaches, athletes, and parents we need to start training accordingly. Self-perception is how a person thinks of them self. In athletes, self-perception can be gained or lost in many different ways.

An athlete’s self-perception can be shaken in every level of play. A young athlete may be affected by their parents fighting or a bad grade in school. Later in life a colligate athlete may be affected by papers, exams, or boyfriends and girlfriends. Finally, a professional athlete may be shaken by the media, family, or other social pressures. This proves that all athletes are affected by stress and emotion which comes from many different places in their lives. No matter what level they are at their perceptions can be altered by many factors.

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Looking at any professional sports leagues, it is obvious that there are different perceptions associated with each team. In professional baseball, for example, it is clear that the Tampa Bay Rays have a lower self-perception then the New York Yankees do. When a player is traded from the Rays to the Yankees that player perceives himself to have more worth. When a batter is in a slump or a quarterback has a bad game or a soccer player suffers a bad injury, it takes a certain amount of courage and perseverance to get back on the field and play hard.

This courage can come from a lot of different places like teammates, parents, fans, trainers, and even from within. A study done by the University of Florida based on self-perception showed how coaches feed back can lead a team toward winning or losing based on verbal contact alone. “When it comes to coaching, the pep talk is better than the locker room tirade” the study showed that basketball coaches who give 2 minute pep talks between halves have teams who succeed much better than teams who’s coaches give negative feedback or no feedback at all.

While athletes don’t particularly like getting negative feedback the University of Florida’s study also showed that athletes can actually perform worse if they get no feedback at all. Although coaches are an enormous part of an athletes mental state they are not the only ones who affect an athletes self perception. As young kids athletes get a sense of how to deal with their sport from their parents. Along with parents, comments and actions from teammates, fans, and even weather can affect self-perception.

As an athlete nothing plays on your mind more than a slump, and we have all heard coaches say “it is all in your head”. For the most part, that is true. For example, if an NCAA baseball player is in a batting slump he may change his swing or create superstitions. Realistically all this batter needs is to relax and believe in his talent, because he would not be playing collegiate baseball if he were not any good. In this situation, the athlete needs to find someone around him who can help him increase his self-perception. This can be done in several ways; each athlete deals with low self-perception in their own way.

One person may need their coach to scream at them Another athlete may need their parents to listen to them rant and rave A third athlete may just need to be left alone to sort out what is happening with their game. Self-perception can also have a positive affect, in softball and baseball a lot of times you can see how hitting is contagious. If I were in a slump and my team started off and inning really strong and everybody before me in the lineup had hit, more often than not when I get up to bat I am going to feed off of the momentum and help my team with what they had started

As a member a major league baseball team, JD Drew’s son was diagnosed with a rare bone disease which put him in a full body cast in May 2007. JD Drew found himself in a slump from May until September when his son was finally coming out of his illness. Red Sox fans everywhere had decided that JD was not worth the amount of money that the organization had paid for him. But really what had happened was that his self-perception was shaken with the diagnosis of his son, this was something that he had to play through, and eventually when it mattered most he got his self-esteem back and played to the best of his potential.

This shows the power of the mind and emotions over sports performance. Self-perception should be embraced by coaches, parents, and teammates because it is very powerful and can be affected by almost anything. Coaches should be aware of their team’s emotions and know how each athlete likes to be responded to in different ways in order to make their game better. Yes, an athlete is strong and agile, but they are also human and if an athlete does not consider them self strong or agile they will not be able to be an athlete much longer.

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Self – Perception in Sport. (2017, Mar 28). Retrieved from