by Arlin Cuncic, Edited by Laura Morrison, for GradSchools.com, April 2014
If a corporate executive is struggling to handle pressure, having trouble with leadership skills, or afraid to take the company in a new direction – the principles of sports psychology may help them. Sports psychologists use many of the same strategies that are used with athletes to improve performance among those facing challenges as business leaders, performing artists and even medical doctors. This exciting area of consulting is called “performance psychology”.
Business executives must be adept at handling pressure, maintaining confidence and staying focused. These individuals face many of the same challenges as coaches and athletes, without the benefit of a support structure for coping. Sports psychologists work with corporate executives to help them improve performance in the following areas:
Surgeons must perform complex mental and fine motor tasks at a consistently high level with minimal margin for error, often in chaotic and time-pressured situations. Although many surgeons devise their own methods for coping with these demands, sports psychologists can offer novel ways to manage performance anxiety. Advice given to surgeons is often presented within the framework of “performance enhancement” in an educational format, rather than suggesting that their current behavior requires improvement.
Performing artists such as musicians, actors and dancers also benefit from the help of sports psychologists – much in the same way as elite athletes. Individuals in the performing arts must learn to control performance anxiety or risk being victims of stage fright. At the same time, some anxiety is important for motivation in the performing arts. Sports psychologists help performing artists learn how to maintain an optimal balance of arousal and relaxation during performances.