Underperformance

A player or a team underperformance on different games will be a common problem in sports. Players’ performance will vary differently according to different factors one of which is the physical fitness. The player will need to be physically fit so that he or she can be able to handle physical challenges in the pitch. The player will also be required to be psychologically prepared for the game challenges; this is one of the greatest roles of a rugby coach which is to manage the pressure off the players. In order to manage the pressure off the players, the coach must give them a lift or push when they seem to be down and need the push. The manager must balance between the arousal and the anxiety of the players in and before the game.

Arousal is an important aspect in the game as the performance will be determined by the level of arousal of the players. The player arousal will be characterized by how alert the player is in regard to the physical state of health and the mental state. The mental state will determine the performance since it will determine the level of activity that the player will be engaged in the activity. A player will be nervous in great games; this is a desirable feeling as it will make sure that the player is in toes with the game but, on the other hand, a player who is excessively nervous will have higher chances of making mistakes than a relaxed player.

In rugby, full concentration in the game will be essential in all positions but different levels of actions will be needed according to the position that the player takes. As an example, a hooker will require full concentration and be calm while throwing the ball. The full concentration will ensure that the accuracy is guaranteed while the same player will be expected to be explosive and highly active at scrum and ruck. It is the role of the coach to ensure that the player can switch into these modes at a fast rate in the game so as to ensure there is great efficiency in handling the ball for better team results.

Psychological preparation in professional rugby players is one of the major factors that lead to continued success of the players, as opposed to the struggling non-professional players.

Literature review

Rugby has been for a long period been regarded as a physical sport, for this reason, many aspiring rugby players have embarked on body building increasing their strength muscle and speed so as to cope with the demands. However, recent study has shown that rugby is not all about physical fitness but rather combination of physical fitness and psychological preparation for the game. At profession level, unlike the non-profession level, the coach will help the player make use of various psychological findings so as to increase efficiency of other sports training components that will be translated even to the match level so that the player can apply the tactics in the play (Butler, 1997).

Profession coaching will involve model training so as to regulate the current mental states. This is particularly important where the player has mood problems and the current state will keep on fluctuating with time. The coach will help regulate interpersonal relationships in the club, this will be helpful as the team has to work as a group and hence good interpersonal relationships will encourage the success of the club. This will mean that the coach has to have an influence over the life of a player that will be important so as to shape the career of the player.

Research Objectives

The research was conducted on rugby players to help investigate the social psychology of rugby union players in a professional environment. The study aimed to differentiate between the professional environments of the employees from that of non-professional level so as to help explain the main reason despite the achievement in physical traits of the non-professional players, the professional players still continue to dominate the sport. The study was to establish what else, beyond the physical traits that are needed by the rugby players to make it to the professional levels.

Methods

The research involved the use of a questionnaire to interview different rugby players. Fifteen rugby players were consulted, and they agreed to take part in the research, they were provided with a questionnaire with the material questions that were to be answered. The questionnaire was pre-set with various questions that required both single answer and some required lengthy explanations and discussions.

The interviewer was present at the time of the interview so as to record the details that the players were giving but were not in the scope of the questionnaire. There was also verbal interview to seek clarity of some points that were raised and also to pick up the player opinions about different concepts that were in the scope of the study.

Results

The research established that there exists a strong relationship between the players’ performance and the psychological preparation the player will have before the game. The study also established that the coach will have to make sure that the players are psychologically prepared for the match or the training.

The study also established that there is a great difference between the ways professional players are mentally prepared for their games. While most of the non-professional clubs will focus on the physical fitness of the player and tactics to be used during the game, the professional clubs will work hard to ensure that the player is mentally prepared for the game so that the player can give the maximum level of results that is desirable and is to the limits of the player.

Discussion

Different players will be under different types of stress during different games. The professional players are more exposed to be affected by high levels of stress than the low end players. This is because these players will mostly have a great number of audiences. The large number of audience will have different expectations from the player, the expectations will mostly be to the full performance e of the player and for this reason, and the coach must have a wide range of strategies (Winder, 1990). The coach must ensure that the stress level remains to a controllable level where the player can easily manage it.

One of the best methods of handling the stress level so that they remain as low as possible is developing coping plans. These are plans that are meant not to solve the problem or challenge the problem in a technical way, but rather to adjust oneself to the problem and look for a quick fix solution. However, the solution adapted by this method will only be short term and will only be used so as to make the player get through to the end of the game. The method will involve using various techniques of the current situation to get through to the end of the match. The method will involve the player walking away in times of confrontation to avoid ugly cases in the game or to use the confrontation as a drive. Coaches will train the players on how to use the energy that they gain as a result of anger constructively. Often, the player will get angry during confrontations and hence the coach will help tap the energy from this anger to encourage the player (Whiting, 1972). The player will be expected to play with greater energy and determination after a confrontation so as to ensure great team performance.

The major problem is posed when a player is worried about more uncontrollable things than the controllable ones. The player might be worried of getting hurt in a game or picking up an injury or worse still be worried that he or she might not give the standard performance as expected. When a player is posed with that challenge, the player will require more emotionally based coping strategy. To help the player cope with the conditions can be a hard task since it will not be easy to distract them from the idea. To help the players prepare for the game mentally and physically following steps are taken-

The first step is to ensure and encourage the player to take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Breath is known to provide the energy that can be used in balance between the body and the mind both n the conscious and unconscious parts of the body and brain. Breath will be utilized by the different body functions for positive change. The breathing process can be trained; deep breaths will boost to eliminate chest breathing. Chest breathing is the short fast breaths that will be taken fast. Chest breathing will be inefficient because the exchange of the air will mostly occur on the top parts of the lungs. Blood circulation mostly occurs at the lower part of the lungs and hence breathing on short breaths will not allow the air to get to the deep parts of the lungs, this will limit the amount of oxygen that will be supplied to the blood. Blood that is supplied with enough oxygen will help the player relax more and faster and hence reduce the tension(Whiting, 1972). The main difference between the breathing with regular players and professional players is that professional players will be trained on how to best control their breathing by professionals while regular players will not know how best to regulate their breathing.

The next important step in preparing the player is to help them visualize a good kick or throw and make them experience how good it would feel making a perfect move. Imagination will be a crucial part in encouraging creativity. When the players are left to be creative and think for themselves rather than force them to conform, they will have better chances of displaying great performance. The player training is done as a collaborative factor where both the player and the coach contribute their ideas. Both the player and the coach must be willing to cooperate so as to come up with a single way solution to the ideas and practices that are ideal. The difference between the professional coaching in rugby and the local coaching is the amount of flexibility in the coaching. Most coaches at the professional level of coaching will have more respect to the player than the nonprofessional coaches. The professional coaches will be more flexible and give the players a chance in suggesting the ideas they find fit. On the other hand, nonprofessional coaches will have ideal pre-set standards which he will expect the player to fulfil (Walsh, 1990). The coach will make a conclusion about the conditions of the player according to the conditions that were set. The coach will either gauge the player as an average, good or poor performer which is completely opposite what the professional coach will. The professional coach will set targets for the player and help them achieve those targets.

Professional players will be under various states of emotion that will range from jovial to tensed mood before and during the game. The coach should be able to handle the situation and reassure the player that there are chances of high performance. The coach should make sure that he helps the player adapt to the anxious feeling by helping him out. A coach should be empathetic and try to deduce the current feeling of the player rather than reminding him about the past events or activities that ever happened. The coach should try to cool down the player by acquiring to know the current state and helping out from the current conditions. There is a difference between how a professional coach to a professional club or professional player will act; a professional coach will be empathetic, empathetic coach will seek to determine the cause of the worry by establishing when it began and the current extent of the condition. This will help the player express the feelings of anxiety and the coach can give a solution in finer details (Walsh, 1990). On the other hand, a nonprofessional coach will be sympathetic to the player. The coach will give examples of past events that have happened so as to help the player relate to those past events. The sympathetic coach will be giving the player advice rather than coaching; the coach should boost the morale of the player by finding a solution and offering help, but not giving the player mere advice.

The mentality of the player will determine the performance in the game. When the game pressure is high, and the game pace is high as well, the player good performance will be determined by how well a player can execute mentally. The only possible way to relax and stay focused is enhancing concentration. It’s the coach role to ensure that the concentration of the player is enhanced as there will be several methods of improving one’s concentration, effectiveness of the method used will vary from one player to the other (Suinn and Clayton, 1980). It is, therefore, important that the coach adopts a different approach to different players. Difficulties in concentration are mostly as a result of distractions; the player will concentrate on other issues and lose the focus on the main agenda which is the game.

Distractions in a game that will lead to loss of focus will either be internal distracters or external distractors, these distractors will come before or during the game. The most common source of distraction during the game will be worrying after making mistakes. The player will lose concentration if his or her mistake costs the team, the player will try to cover up for the mistake and hence work out more than he or she can do to the maximum potential, this will distract the main attention as the player will lose focus and forget to work as a team. If a player fails to play as a team and becomes obsessed with personal achievement, he, or she will cost the team in a great way. Also, a fatigued player will have a lower concentration in the game; this is because the focus requires effort and hence a fatigued player will have no energy to retain the concentration needed.

The player will also be distracted by different visual characters which will include the crowd, competitors’ trash-talk and all the physical distractors that will shift the focus of the player. Just like the physical skills, the concentration skills can be worked on to be improved. The managers should identify the various sources of distractions for the player and work on improving them. The first step is to identify the source of distraction and incorporate it in the training. This is mostly necessary if the source of distraction is external. The coach will choose the best ways to enhance concentration of the player by introducing the distraction in the training. After these distractions have been introduced, the player will learn how to cope with them (Suinn and Clayton, 1980). These factors are different depending on the conditions that will vary from training on a crowded ground to incorporation of noise in the training.

Another practice that the professional players practice in their activities is doing their activities in a routine. When a player adapts to a certain routine, he or she can be able to concentrate on the activity that is going to happen next. This will be replicated while on the pitch playing as a player will learn to have a track of the activities to carry out (Singer, 1975). The player will focus on a certain flow of events and one activity will lead to the next. Focusing on the flow of events will help keep the player mind out of the results. This is because results are a distraction to the player since the player will be anxious on what is going to happen in case of poor results.

Professional players usually have sessions with sports psychologists. The psychologists will help access the player mental level of activity. These usually happen in an office setting so as to remove any environmental barriers and happens as regularly as possible. These sessions with the psychologists will provide the players with the mental tools that they may require during training sessions and competitions. This is a major boost to the verbal instructions given by the coach. The coach will make use of the report obtained from the psychologist to adjust the coaching program. The coach will decide on whether to focus more on the physical training or to focus more on the mental training. This is a great difference between professional and local players. The professional players will be coached according to their conditions that include the mental and physical state. This is of great importance because the coach will have to adjust the program so that it can suit the player at different conditions. On the contrast to this, nonprofessional players will undergo the same routine regardless of their mental state. The coach will expect that all the players will do the same level of physical activity so as to ensure there is uniformity in the team. This generalization of the whole team is dangerous as even the players in different positions will require different levels and types of training (Singer, 1975). If the players are subjected to same levels and types of training, most of them will not benefit from the activity and will end up being more frustrated.

Professional clubs will hire part time specialists who will be of help to the players in developing their skills. These specialists will be from different fields to help understand the mental position of the player. These specialists will interact with the player during their practice sessions; they will show them how to incorporate mental skills, which will include intensity and imagery while training and how to translate those aspects into the game.

The build-up before the game will also be determining the level of success of the team. A professional club will have a profession build up to help it in coordination. For a player to be termed as fit for the match, he must have a level 5 fitness components which signify good physical and mental fitness. However this level of fitness will be adjusted according to the demands of the game, it might be lowered if the game is less demanding or rose if the game is a high profile and requires a greater level of fitness. The player will be given special fitness classes which will involve trainings that link general physical fitness and also the mental state of the player (Purdon, 1985). Before the game, an evaluation of the player physical state must be conducted as well as the metal state. If a player has a low level of motivation or the player is psychologically unfit for the game, the player will be put under a psychologist who will access and help the player with the condition.

Professional players will start developing their mental skills at the gym rather than at the pitch training. Using mental skills as part of physical conditioning program proves to be a great way to start ingraining those skills that will be of benefit in quality of the training when it is complete. A gym will provide a platform where the player can explore more opportunities and learn to control the body including the mental part of the body. This is because the gym will be a lean environment as compared to the pitch itself. Professionals will prefer to develop from a lean environment which is less complex with fewer variables and less scope of things to handle (Nicholls and Jones, 2013). The gym will be easy to develop in since there will be fewer distractions from the environment that will prevent the player from full concentration on the activities. The start of the development will be different from that of the nonprofessional players; this is because the nonprofessional players will go to the gym for mostly physical building and to gain more fitness.

Coaches in professional clubs will mostly encourage practice, competition and conditioning exercises which will have similar phases of execution. The coach will ensure there is the preparation phase where the player will prepare both physically and mentally for super performance. The players will be given and classified into different phases so as to gauge their performance. The first phase that the players are put in is the preparation phase. This is the phase that the player will be put so as to prepare to get ready for a high level performance; this is because the player must be prepared mentally and set the objective of obtaining high level of performance. The next phase that the player will pass is the performance phase. On this phase, the player is supposed to exhibit the highest level of performance that he or she can make. This is a crucial level in the whole training process because it will be used to gauge the effectiveness of the preparation stage. On this stage, the player must exhibit full level of concentration. The player must show the high level of both physical and mental completion in this level since if the player loses the focus on this level; then the essence of playing will be lost. The third phase is conclusion phase that is a completely mental stage due to much activity in the performance stage. Both the body and the mind will be completely exhausted, the physical conditions might hurt with an urge to stop, but, however, the mind must stay focused so as to complete the assigned task (Nicholls and Jones, 2013). To go through this phase, the player must be able to coordinate both the mind and the body to help perform the activity. The above phases are a complicated for a nonprofessional coach or trainer. The trainer might not be able to understand the importance of having the player pass through the phases of development and for this reason, the coach will not emphasize on placing the player on the phases. It will bring variation where the professional players will continue to show great performance all the way.

Everything that a player needs to have and do for practice or in competition will also apply to every set of work out. The player must get some motivation from something even if he or she is hurt or highly demotivated. The player will have demotivation from many cases where he or she will opt to give up or lose hope. This is the point where the coaching skills will come in. From a non-professional point of view, the player will look for something that will mostly be the results to motivate him or her. This is different from a professional point of view; a profession will have established that there is an inevitable chance of loss of motivation and morale in a particular game. With this in mind, the coach will have established a source of motivation to the player that will be upon the player to keep in mind. The coach will need to establish the best source of motivation for each and individual the player, the source of motivation should be something that is easily memorable which the player will remember easily. The motivation should also be internal in that it creates a driving force from inside and the player becomes motivated by generation of extra energy that will help the player push to the next level. The player must have confidence that he or she can perform a particular activity; this will require a fixed mind-set that will push the player all through the activity no matter how challenging it is (Nicholls and Callard, 2012). However this level of determination must be controlled, the amount of motivation by a particular task should be kept at controlled levels. This is because it can be dangerous if a player acts in a state of anger and the effort that is put will be uncontrollable even to the player.

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