Sports psychology unsurprisingly has become an integral aspect within the rigorous training regimes of many professional sports persons. However, what may seem surprising is the increasing popularity of this sport enhancing medium amongst amateur and leisure riders.
Horse ownership and horse riding is more popular now than ever before. Here in the UK we are very lucky at the amount of venues and organisations that cater for the amateur rider affording more opportunities to compete and train. Of course this is wonderful for those striving to improve, succeed, meet their goals and have a fun day out with their horse. However, there is a but and it’s a huge BUT, social media! Social media is fabulous for keeping us in touch with friends, following our heroes, posting/watching videos and giving us a daily laugh, BUT, social media is also at best responsible for us feeling inadequate about our achievements and at worse destroying any semblance of self-worth and positivity we may experience. Cyber bullying is horrendous with keyboard warriors often cruelly shouting their opinion to the devastating detriment of the poor person who’s asked for help or is just proudly posting about achieving their hard earned goal. Social media can be a wonderful experience for the psyche but it can also destroy.
With the increasing amount of time spent on social media we can also follow how well our peers have done. To me, it seems we rarely hear about the blood sweat and tears that have attributed to our friends successful moments and as social etiquette demands we are expected to gush positive platitudes, but in truth we are probably feeling disgruntled with our own bad day and possibly envious at their success! On a more serious note, the perception of our peers doing better than ourselves and our innate ability to forget that they too work hard for their cherished successful moments can lead to a loss of confidence in our own ability ergo the eventual need for a sports psychologist.
Social media is also responsible for our increased awareness of riding accidents. We hear about avoidable RTA’s involving horses, dogs attacking horses whilst horse and rider are out enjoying what should be a fun hack and we often hear about someone whose bought a horse that turned out to be totally unsuitable and either caused serious injury or a loss of confidence. So, with our increasing love affair with the immediate news on social media, witnessed, heard about or having experienced events which caused a loss of confidence and nerves, the pressure we put upon ourselves to succeed and to be as good as, if not better than our peers, it’s no wonder the use of sports psychologists are on the increase.