Psychology of Sport

6 Myths You May Still Believe About Sport Psychology (That Are Holding Your Riding Back)


Knowledge is power!

Myth #1: There is something wrong with me if I need to work on mental/emotional skills in my sport.

Fact: Mental and emotional high performance development in sport is not about fixing an athlete. It is about developing skills that are required to maximize abilities. It is an educational process. Similar to building your technical, physical and horsemanship skills each day, the same effort must be made to develop the mental and emotional aspect.

Myth #2: Mental and emotional high-performance training is for athletes who are mentally weak.

Fact: Mental and emotional training is for all athletes. Any athlete, at any level should be developing the skills that more fully allow them to express their technical and physical training. Consider that every great athlete is coached—no matter what level. Why? So they can continue to improve and ensure sustainability and consistency.

©FEI/Stefan Lafrentz

Myth #3: It’s all about the horse anyway in equestrian—as long as I don’t get in the way, it’s fine.

Fact: Equestrian is an equal partnership between horse and rider. Emotions are shared between the partners and the emotions of the rider directly impact the performance of the horse. The rider is the pilot and must have great mental and emotional competency to steer the relationship in the right direction. It’s the ultimate team sport.

©FEI/Richard Juillart

Myth #4: Mental and emotional high-performance development is only for elite riders.

Fact: Any level, age, or equestrian discipline can benefit from mental and emotional high-performance development. Parents and coaches can also benefit. Not only will mental and emotional high-performance development help you on the horse, but the skills are highly transferable to all areas of life like business, leadership and relationships.

Myth #5: Mental and emotional training is a quick fix and a short-term thing.

Fact: Mental and emotional training in equestrian is a process to build independence and confidence in the client athlete. Like any skill, it takes time and repetition to build competency and confidence. Tricks and tips never work. Mastery of fundamentals and a great process does.

Myth #6: Mental and emotional training is too much like therapy, lying on a couch talking about my feelings.

Fact: Mental and emotional training in equestrian is about developing performance skills. A great performance expert has a defined, quantifiable process that includes assessment, building detailed plans, communicating with coaches and using the latest technologies to help the equestrian athlete improve. The work is done through conversation, watching, reviewing and planning at a convenient location, at the barn or at the show ground.

Want to learn more about how mental and emotional training can improve your performance? Read John Haime’s “Are You Training Your Equestrian Mind.”


About the Author

John Haime is President of New Edge Performance. A former professional athlete and current bestselling author of You are a Contender! Build Emotional Muscle to Perform Better and Achieve Morein business, sports and life, John understands how athletes think and feel…he’s been there—under the most intense pressures of amateur and professional sports. John coaches athletes in all sports and is trusted by some of the world’s leading athletes—professional and elite amateur. See www.johnhaime.com to learn more.