The Importance of eSports Psychologists

Being a professional gamer can take a toll on the mind and spirit. To that end, Esports teams have started to utilize sports psychology in order to help their players cope. According to the American Psychological Association, speorts psychology uses psychology to enhance performance and improve the well being of sports athletes.

While the use of sports psychology in competitive gaming is recent, it has been implemented in other professional sports fields such as the Olympics and the NBA. Procedures used include cognitive and behavioral training, counseling and cleinical intervention, and consultation and training. These procedures are often used alongside physical health programs.

Esports games that have used sports psychologists include Counter-Strike Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Dota 2. Notable sports psychologists that have garnered attention are Mia Stellberg, Lars Robi, and Maria João Andrade. Now, let’s delve deeper into why sports psychologists matter in the world of Esports.

Burnout prevention

In its simplest terms, burnout is physical and emotional exhaustion, an athlete hitting their limits and being unable to perform well as a result. Quartz states that many Esports players undergo what is known as “the grind”, working as much as 80 hours a week on gaming sessions that negatively impact the mind and body. On top of that, social media’s promineence has resulted in stress that can cause players to burnout by their mid 20’s.

By predicting the factors that can result in burnout, sports psychologists can make suggestions to keep it from happening in the first place. For example, some sports psychologists recommend that players have mid-season breaks with no gaming related activity whatsoever to allow them to recharge. However, these suggestions must be taken seriously by the players and ultimately the entire industry in order for them to have any effect.

Cognitive Behavioral Training and Counseling 

With all sports and esports athletes, there are bound to be internal and external stress that can take a toll on the mind. An esports psychologist could tackle these issues on an individual and/or group level to ensure that everyone is in top shape and can keep their head in the game. Emotion management and team morale are especially crucial for a sports psychologist to monitor.

In addition to burnout, professional gamers and competitive gamers are at risk of developing other mental health issues such as gaming disorder and depression if their mental health isn’t cared for. With counseling from sports psychologists, these issues can either be identified early and managed or prevented entirely.

Team Building

If a single member of a team doesn’t function well, then the strength of the entire team will be diminished. Thus, a sports psychologist uses team-building exercises to make sure the entire team does their best. These are often conducted in groups so that everyone is on the same page and focus on communication, training lmethods, and developing a mental fortitude to withstand criticism and losses.

Through team building, Esports players can be given the mental foundation to develop a healthier approach to gaming and interacting with fellow players. The drive to dominate, win, and be perfect can crush professional gamers with the wrong mindset as a player and a person. Having a sports psychologist building a team can make competitive gaming more enjoyable and less strenuous.

Coaching Coaches

The role of a team’s coach is to motivate the players so that they perform well in a match. However, Esports requires a particular method of coaching that traditional sports doesn’t. With a sports psychologists on hand, coaches can learn to adapt to an Esports environment and gain new experience that will benefit themselves and the players.

One sports coach, Weldon Francis, wrote a detailed essay discussing how he applied sports psychology to techniques such as having the team positively internalize the coach’s voice, monitoring goals for the entire team & individual members, and using position coaching to guide the players during and after training sessions.

Although today most of what is applied to eSports comes from traditional sports psychology and performance, we are certain that more research, capital, and effort will be allocated exclusively to esports performance. That will allow teams, pro players, and major stakeholders to truly understand and craft strategies tailored to the specific needs of competitive gaminge

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