Sports Psychology: What Are Olympic Athletes Really Like?

The 2012 Olympics got terrific television ratings. Apparently, Americans were really drawn to this year’s games.

The Olympics are a distraction from some of the economic and political turmoil which seem to dominate the news much of the time. The Olympics also give rise to a feeling of pride and nationalism amongst fans and viewers from around the world.

The variety of sports in this year’s games was mind boggling. Where else can you see athletes from around the world competing in sports like beach volley ball, boxing, cycling, pole vaulting, high jumping, diving, archery, soccer, field hockey, wrestling, tae kwon doe, fencing, handball, kayaking, weight lifting, fencing, rowing, gymnastics and others?

And there was certainly a lot of buzz about the games here in America. People were tweeting, blogging and sharing of Olympic moments in conversations with friends, family members and colleagues.

My cohorts at my tennis club seemed to be fascinated with games from London. People were getting off the tennis courts to watch basketball, tennis and track events. As always, there were some surprises, some drama, some controversy, some new records as well as an abundance of fascinating human interest stories.

NBC uses a lot of air time to bring these close up looks of the athletes to the viewing public. And the network did a good job of communicating the nature of the time, money and energy sacrifices that the athletes and their families need to make to make it to this elite level of sports.

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to counsel a number Olympic athletes including four gold medal winners. These athletes were from a variety of sports including gymnastics, weight lifting, boxing, skiing and rowing.

This year, two clients of mine brought home gold medals. Because of client confidentiality regulations, I can not share very much about them. However, it was quite thrilling to see people who sat in my office on the gold medal platform. I have also interviewed three or four previous gold medal winners for my weekly column.

Not surprisingly, these athletes have great discipline, focus and resiliency. They also have great passion for their sport and their teammates. They also have strong feelings about representing their country.

Like the rest of us, they also have fear, anxiety and interpersonal conflicts with people in their lives.

What is really striking to me, however, is the fact that to a person, all of these remarkable athletes are quite humble, soft spoken and very respectful.

None of them were arrogant or grandiose. Rather, they were all quite genuine and down to earth.

While there is a lot of press regarding out of control athletes who make bad choices, break the law and who are poor role models for our kids, this group of competitors was a real pleasure to get to know and to work with. They all embody what is best about sports.

Source by Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.

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