Being a good rugby athlete does not only mean training for many hours. Part of the training hours must be dedicated to mental work, specifically to enhance mental toughness.
In recent decades, sports psychology has become a fundamental part of increasing performance in sports such as rugby . Currently, it is no longer understood that to be a better athlete, it is enough to train more hours, but that an effort must be made that transcends beyond the physical.
If there is something that characterizes rugby, it is the mental strength that is needed to practice it. Said mental toughness is not an inborn trait, but is enhanced with training. Even so, at first it is difficult to adapt and not everyone is able to endure.
In addition, being a collective sport, variables such as group dynamics that do not occur in individual sports must also be taken into account. The group influences the person and vice versa, so to enhance sports performance it will be necessary to work with the group and optimize its functioning .
With all this, below we will review how sports psychology positively influences performance in rugby .
You have to learn to work under pressure conditions.
Not knowing how to handle pressure is a common problem for many athletes.
During a rugby match, the athlete has to open his five senses and have a clear mind to be able to act correctly . Unlike other sports, in rugby there is a lot of physical and mental exhaustion, this means that the athlete will have to get used to working well in conditions in which he feels uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable situations are those in which there is not a long period of time to make decisions. When facing a rival who is also looking for victory, any mistake can be expensive. For this reason, part of the mental training involves teaching the group to make decisions under pressure, what factors to take into account and how to make the process much more efficient.
To achieve all of the above, other variables such as attention must also be worked on. If you know how to direct attention to what is important, it is easier to make the decision-making process more accurate.
Mental resilience is a fundamental value
We have already discussed that if there is something that characterizes rugby , from a psychological point of view, it is the mental hardness of those who practice it. Mental toughness is perhaps the most important factor in this sport, and that is why training must be aimed at enhancing it.
Continuing with this idea and according to a study published in the Lecturas: Educacion Fisica y Deportes magazine , athletes with high mental strength present a series of added benefits, among which are:
- They are more competitive and suffer less stress.
- They perceive difficult situations as opportunities for growth, and therefore become more involved in solving them.
- They have greater emotional control, especially negative emotions. They handle difficult situations better.
- They can maintain concentration for longer periods of time.
Athletes know how to control the impact of evaluations
In any sport there is an evaluative component of execution. The coaches evaluate how their athletes perform, the public does the same from the stands, and reacts positively or negatively. Even, the person is evaluating her performance throughout the training or competition.
You have to know how to handle this component, which is something inevitable, since the fear of negative evaluations is a drag that slows down performance . It is not about avoiding evaluation, but receiving it as a correction to continue improving, instead of a personal attack.
In a study carried out by the University of Murcia, it was found that rugby players obtained a high score in the factor “influence of evaluation on performance”. High scores on this factor indicate that the athlete shows high control over the evaluations of others and their own.
Rugby players manage to overcome the impact of negative evaluations from third parties.
Apply psychology to rugby to succeed
Success in sport is the combination of several factors. Physical training, mental work, correct nutrition and rest are just examples of factors that are part of the complex recipe for victory.
In the case of rugby things were not going to be different. It is necessary to work the mind, and specifically to enhance the mental strength variable . Thanks to it, the athlete can make a greater effort and face difficulties in a constructive way.
Finally, remember that you should not leave other variables aside. Mental toughness is something more specific to rugby , but other more well-known factors such as concentration and decision-making also play a role.