November 23, 2010

Sports Psychology

"Chess is played with the mind and not with the hands!" - Renaud and Kahn

"Could we look into the head of a chess player, we should see there a whole world of feelings, images, ideas, emotion and passion." - Alfred Binet

"A strong memory, concentration, imagination and a strong will is required to become a great chess player." - Bobby Fischer

"Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponents mind." - Bobby Fischer

As we can conclude from the above quotes, psychology plays an important role in chess: "It is not enough to be a good must also play well!" - Tarrasch. In order to do that, like any other muscle, your mind needs training. It is not enough to presume the way you should think, practical exercises are needed to help you in difficult moments. Otherwise you will do nothing but feel sorry for yourself, incapable to cope with stress. Instead of sticking with inefficient resources, you should know that everything can be learned! And you won't say anymore: easy to say, difficult to do, you will just do it!

But for that, of course we need some guidance. This is what I don't understand! I don't see in the chess federations a sports psychologist. This happens, most probably, because the importance of such a service is highly underestimated. And finally, the chief of the delegation plays the following roles: captain, friend, father, mother, trainer, psychologist, maybe even a player too! Which turns out to be a bit too much...

Many sportsmen and coaches are confused about the role of sports psychology in improving performances. The goal of sports psychology is to help us performing our best, by improving the necessary mental skills to excel in a sporting endeavour. Sports Psychology is not about working with problems or abnormal behavior!

In this section, as I already did with my previous post: The Chess Wheel, I will bring you different techniques to help you with your mental training, in the overall goal of performance improvement and enhancing consistency in performance.

How do you know when you need or could benefit from sports psychology? You can start by asking yourself a few questions.
1. Do you perform as well in competition as you do in practice?
2. Are you performing up to the ability you have shown?
3. Do you worry about what other people think about your performance?
4. Are you motivated by a fear of failure?
5. Do you become easily frustrated when things do not go according to plan?
6. Do you get distracted easily by things that go on around you in your environment?
7. Do you have any doubts about your chess before or during the competition?
8. Do you lose your concentration during the game?

How to break the mental barriers which are holding you back from peak performance...coming up soon!

Inspiration from Dr.Cohn,


  1. hallo mevr. l'Ami

    first of all just found your blog and i realy enjoy many of your articles!!!

    it's a difficult subject because many don't believe "Sports Psychology is not about working with problems or abnormal behavior!"

    i believe the 8 questions you asked are answered easy... when you add the why question you could get to some serious unsolved issues/pain.

    i am realy curious to read your "how to break the mental barriers"....

    an interesting read for you, maybe!??

    met vr.groet jacco

  2. Hello Jacco!

    Thank you, both for your kind words and interesting link. Unfortunately my understanding of Dutch is not yet on such a high level. I would very much like to follow this course, perhaps in the future, when my Dutch will be better!
    About the future posts...I hope they will prove usefull. Even if it will help just one person, I'd be more than happy!

  3. Thank you for this post, from Argentina.

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