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Thalia Panayi began her studies at the University of Cyprus where she completed her Bachelor degree in Psychology. After completing her bachelor, Thalia furthered her studies In Psychology, by completing a Master in Sport Psychology from Liverpool John Moore’s University. Also, she obtained a Master in Clinical -Counseling Psychology from La Salle University in Philadelphia, USA.

Finally, she acquired a certificate from the University of West of Scotland in Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy.

Thalia Panagi

Trainings - Thalia Panagi

Psychology

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It is a common phenomenon to observe athletes perform better during their training sessions than they do during their competitions. Whilst performing for competitions they sometimes seem incapable of reaching their peak performance due to many reasons.

Why does this phenomenon occur so often?

There are a lot of factors that can determine sports performance especially during a match, such as anxiety and worry concerning the performance itself. Anxiety regarding the competition or match can be debilitative or facilitative. Facilitative anxiety results in improved performance and helps athletes to increase their effort and preparation. It can also motivate them. On the other hand, debilitative anxiety results in worsened performance. Most athletes worry excessively regarding their competition, as they want to satisfy their coach, co-players, administrative staff, fans or even themselves. Thus, the pressure they feel about winning leaves them incapable of concentrating to the match, affects their decision-making and reduces their enjoyment and self-confidence.

In addition, some other important factors which can affect performance are: low self-confidence, adjustment difficulties as well as other exogenous factors such as family problems or problems with other people meaning the coach or co-players. Finally, an injury can affect an athlete’s performance both physically and psychologically since an injured athlete needs time to recover and then get back to the level that he previously was. An injury produces an immediate imbalance in athlete’s life. It affects the athlete’s self-confidence and self-esteem. The experience of an injury can lead an athlete to the formation of many negative emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and concentration problems. An injured athlete is often concerned about gaining his previous condition or even if he will ever be able to perform again. Moreover, an injury can cause psychological trauma to an athlete, as he might be afraid that he will be re-injured.

Thalia Panagi

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So, how can we help athletes to perform better and reach their peak performance?

Firstly, before maximizing an athlete’s performance, we have to identify the factors, which affect his performance. After pointing out these factors, the Coach and the Sport Psychologist will work together, and then with the athlete through discussion and counseling, in order to solve his issues. During this process, empathy, trust and rapport are very important.

Secondly, as one of the most important ingredients of an optimum performance is goal setting, all athletes must set both long and short-term goals. Goal setting can help athletes to remain concentrated and focused, in order to achieve their goals. Itmust be stated that goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based (SMART).

The role of the coach is also very important. The essence of the coach comes down to teaching, motivating and supporting athletes. How? Through rewarding, encouraging, and supporting the athlete during, through and after a match or practice.

The Sport Psychologist can help both athletes and coaches to reach their peak performance either through counseling, assessing and educating athletes on how to use the main mental skills such as: imagery, self talk, anxiety management, goal setting and relaxation.

The contribution of the Sport Psychologist is very important in Sports as he/she helps the athletes to develop their personality and improve themselves. Besides this, the development of a close relationship with the coach, the collaboration of the two, can effectively support and provide a variety of techniques and methods to athletes so they are helped towards enhancing their performance and achieving their goals.

It is clear that an athlete’s performance can be affected by different factors but can also be optimized. Effort and time are needed along with the co-operation between the coach, the athlete and Sport psychologist. This specific triangle is vital for enhancing an athlete’s performance. The emotional stability and success of an athlete can be attained through this triangle.

The decision on whether working or not with a Sport Psychologist primarily rests upon the hands of the Coach and then to the Athlete. Sport Psychology aims at the optimization of each and every athlete through a wide spectrum of methods and by teaching new skills and techniques to both coach and athlete, offering the athlete the chance to eventually obtain control of his psychology to the highest level possible.

To conclude, everything arises within us thus we have to work from within in order to have results and get over plateaus. The right counseling and mentoring are our means to achieving success.

Thalia Panagi
Psychology

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Sports injury is a common phenomenon among athletes since the majority of them experience an injury during their sport participation. An injury can be one of the worst experiences for an athlete as it can mean a number of different things to an athlete besides the physical pain they experience.

Under which circumstances can an injury be caused?

An injury can be caused by different reasons. It might be caused by physical factors, such as musculoskeletal anomaly, previous injury, poor field condition, over-training, bad weather conditions. Also, match and training conditions can cause an injury, as well as the time of participation and the sport mechanism. Finally, psychosocial factors namely lack of confidence, stress, negative thoughts/mood (intenseness, depression, anger, fatigue) can also cause an injury.

As a result, an injury produces an immediate imbalance in an athlete’s life for it can bring many psychological changes. Injuries affect the athlete’s self- confidence, self-esteem and can also become connected to fear, anger, sadness, isolation, intenseness, anxiety and lack of concentration.

Thalia Panagi

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How can we help athletes to cope with their injury and manage their psychological changes?

Sport Psychology can contribute to injury rehabilitation in several ways. How?

A Sport Psychologist can aid athletes to deal effectively with their injury by helping them with their injury process. A sport psychologist assists the athlete by providing him with emotional support for accepting and understanding the injury. Furthermore, by building trust and rapport with the injured athlete, a sport psychologist can inform the athlete about the nature of his injury, the goals of the treatment and the details of his restoration in corporation of the medical staff. Finally, the Sport Psychologist can teach the athlete how to use the main mental skills, which can help him adjust to the restoration process, to manage his pain, reduce his stress and anxiety and increase his self-esteem. These skills are: goal setting, relaxation, imagery, and positive self-talk. The usage of these skills can also be used to enhance performance on a consistent basis.

Social as well as emotional supports are very important for an injured athlete too. Social support includes coaches, athletic trainers, teammates, family and friends. Social support can be of use to injured athletes to endure their difficult times and accept a comprehensive rehabilitation program. Undoubtedly, social support is very important since it can help athletes to establish their self-confidence.

An injury can happen under many different circumstances. A comprehensive rehabilitation program, which includes social-emotional support, medical and psychological support can help the athlete to cope with his injury, recover and successfully return to his previous condition. Coaches as well as team physicians must consider the psychological and physical factors, whilst treating and coordinating care for injured athletes. Finally, it is important to highlight that systematic use of psychological skills can prevent the likelihood of an injury.

Thalia Panagi
Psychology

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Goal Setting is a huge topic, which is practical in nature. Goal Setting is used across numerous contexts and anyone can set a goal for any aspect of life.

Goal setting helps us improve an athlete’s motivation and commitment, stay focused on what to accomplish. It is also very helpful on assessing our strengths and weaknesses, as well as tracks our performance and improvement.

Thalia Panagi

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Every successful manager or athlete or achiever set goals.

What is a goal?

How we set SMARTER goals?

What is a Goal?

A goal is a target or a specific standard or accomplishment that one strives to attain’ (Locke and Latham 2006; 2002).

Goals are proposed to influence performance in 4 distinct ways:

  1. Increasing focus and directs attention on a task
  2. Mobilising effort
  3. Enhancing persistence
  4. Developing new learning strategy

How we set goals?

You must set short term, intermediate, and long term goals.

Process (How we do something), Performance and Outcome Goals (What we do)

More specifically, process goals are focused on improving specific behaviours, exhibited throughout a performance (e.g. skill technique), whilst performance goals are focused on the Specification of the performance (e.g. skill achievement). Finally, outcome goals are focused upon outcome of an event (e.g. winning).

For example a football player can set the following goals:

Outcome- Winning the game

Performance- Making accurate and successful passes

Process- food placement on the ball, spin on release

In order to have an efficient goal setting, our goals should be SMARTER.

What I mean?

Your goals must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable/attainable/assignable/action oriented/agreed
  • Realistic/relevant
  • Time-Based
  • Evaluated/ethical/ecological
  • Rewarding/rewarded/recorded/re-evaluated.

Try to follow the following Goal Setting Principles:

  1. Set specific goals
  2. Use a mix of process, performance, & outcome goals
  3. Set practice and competition goals
  4. Record goals
  5. Provide evaluation and feedback
  6. Develop goal achievement strategy
  7. Set moderately difficult but realistic goals
  8. Consider the participant’s personality and motivation
  9. Foster goal commitment
  10. Provide goal support
  11. Set long and short term goals

NOW THINK:

  • Which is the perfect long-term goal for you, if all goes well by your potential?
  • What is your dream goal for this season?
  • What is the realistic goal for this year, based on your capabilities?
  • What is your goal for this month? Where are you going to focus more?
  • What is your goal for today? Where are you going to focus more, in which area?

Concentrate on the first step. Write down the first step you are going to follow.

Thalia Panagi

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Is the Goal SMARTER?

What is the Strategy you are going to follow?

Now:

  1. “Write your goals down.
  2. “Pick long term, medium term and short term goals to create stepping stones to take you from where you are, to where you want be, in gradual steps.
  3. “Don’t constantly think too far ahead – just approach each session one at a time. Don’t worry about how far away from your dream or goal you are.”
  4. “Commit yourself to your plan. You won’t see results immediately but a big part of it is being mentally committed to the process. Be prepared for the fact it won’t be easy.”
  5. “Have a way to measure your performance objectively. Chart your progress so you can be honest with yourself, leaving no room for interpretation. This is the only way to truly analyse your progression, so you can see if you’re improving or if the plan’s not working.”

"Dreams are free. Goals have a cost. Time, effort, sacrifice, and sweat. How will you pay for your goals?"

Usain Bolt

Thalia Panagi