What is sports intelligence and how to enhance it


In the field of sport, it is not only physical ability that matters. The state of mind, mood, or intellectual and cognitive abilities play a very important role in athletic performance. These intellectual and cognitive abilities are what is known as sports intelligence. This is the ability to understand what is happening in the sports context: its rules, norms, the interpretation of situations and decision-making accordingly, as well as the adaptation to the capacities of each athlete.

“Sport encourages occasions in which people are exposed to unexpected situations, to decisions that they must make and to moments of certain environmental pressure,” explains Diana Camín, a psychologist at BluaU de Sanitas. Under these circumstances, athletes must be able to coordinate with partners and promote communication, in order to solve problems.

What is sports intelligence?

This is when sports intelligence comes into play. We speak, then, of a type of intelligence that requires a preparation process to develop the ability to direct mindfulness, thoughts, motivation, relaxation and resilience to sport. «Sports intelligence is gaining more and more weight in training. Athletes, faced with a competition, have to be able to predict a play, anticipate its opponent or learn to use their abilities for success, ”says Diana Camín. For this reason, the preparation of an athlete cannot only be physical, but also involves the acquisition of habits and abilities. Sports intelligence, therefore, can be developed by anyone who practices a sport, whether amateur or professional.

According to the sports discipline, the importance between the physical and the intellectual varies. For example, in athletics events such as the 100-meter sprint, physical conditions are the most determining factor. On the other hand, in team sports the opposite occurs, with great predominance of the cognitive aspect. In disciplines such as basketball, soccer or volleyball, a greater use and development of sports intelligence is encouraged, putting into practice those techniques that can help us in sports performance.

The importance of inclusive sport

One area in which sports intelligence can be essential is inclusive sports. «We have verified that it is a factor very important in the field of this sport model, since it helps in the cognitive development of these athletes both on and off the slopes ”, explains Javier Pérez, director of the Sanitas Foundation Chair for Inclusive Sports Studies (CEDI).

Within inclusive sport, this intelligence takes on special importance, but it is also important that in these sports their regulations and rules are adapted if necessary. It should be ensured that the rhythm is more appropriate, equity prevails and that it avoids generating situations of frustration by creating unattainable goals. It is not intended to eliminate trial, error and learning, so typical of sport, but you must precisely measure what situations you want to generate so that there is a balance between failure, learning, success and reward. To avoid frustration in the face of an unexpected result, victory and defeat must be given a secondary role. Although a certain degree of competitiveness must exist, its importance must be relativized.

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