When we think of sports teams, we generally tend to think about rugby, football, soccer, ice hockey, or any other team sport generally played on a field (or ice, in the case of hockey). In the last few years -and especially a few weeks- the rise of eSports has given a whole new meaning to the phrase’ team sports’.
The psychology behind team sports
Humans are sociable creatures; we always have been. It is something that is inherently woven into our genetic makeup, right from when we were hunter-gatherers organizing food in teams. Working together comes naturally to us, and in an age of competitive sports, it seems only logical that acting as a team online is a natural progression from acting as a team on the pitch, field, or ice.
So how does a winning mindset come into play here? Traditional professional sports teams are made up of hundreds of people both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes. You have the team that everyone knows and loves, but there are also coaches, managers, nutritionists, physiotherapists, and, of course, there are psychologists.
Sports psychologists are there to look after the minds of the players, and we all know that good mental health goes hand in hand with good physical health, this is even more true for sportsmen and women, and possibly even more critical for eSports players.
The role of a psychologist in sport
Online games such as League of Legends have exploded in popularity, as have professional competitive gaming. No longer is competitive gaming seen as something that only an odd few get up to, the games are real, the prizes are high, and there are even betting odds available from companies like Unibet for esports betting.
You may be wondering how a psychologist helps with sports teams? Visions of players lying on a sofa speaking about their relationships with their mothers while the psychologist quotes Jungian theory at them may be true; for the most part, psychologists for sports teams act more casually.
Their primary role is to ensure that the player’s mind is focused on the task at hand. There is nothing like a bout of Imposter Syndrome to destroy any sports player’s confidence.
A sports psychologist’s job is to ensure that the player is mentally ready to perform, and afterward that they can debrief properly. Discussing the need for good teamwork is a big part of the role, ensuring that players understand their place within the team, their role within the team and that they do not get swallowed up in a course for glory. A team is only as strong as the weakest link after all.
An often-overlooked aspect of eSports gaming is that the players need to have a clear head to avoid that adrenaline rush. For many physical players, a rush of adrenaline can help them push through that last barrier when they are tired and would prefer to rest. For eSports players, however, a rush of adrenaline can make hands shake and concentration wane -both of which will have very negative effects on their ability to perform to the best of their abilities.