Concentration, confidence, control and commitment are the 4Cs of sport psychology. They are generally considered to be essential mental qualities important for successful performance in sports.
The techniques of relaxation, centering, mental imagery, and hypnotherapy are among the ways to assist athletes in achieving the 4 Cs of sport psychology.
Concentration is the first of the 4 Cs of sport psychology. Concentration is the ability to sustain attention on selected stimuli. It can be disrupted by our own thoughts and feelings that distract us.
Intense concentration is requires emotional energy. The harder athletes try to concentrate, the more it can slip away. Effective concentration is an effortless process.
Concentration comes naturally when the mind is completely consumed with the immediate situation The athlete becomes absorbed in the competition, paying attention to just the right cues to perform well.
Concentration is dynamic, so it constantly shifts from one point to another. A loss of concentration occurs when attention is divided or shifts to something irrelevant.
Confidence is the next of the 4 Cs of sport psychology. Elite athletes often say that confidence is fragile, especially when they compete under pressure. Confidence allows the athlete to focus on essential tasks. Fluctuations can mean the difference between best and worst performances.
Sport research focuses on self-confidence--the belief that one has the internal resources, abilities, and expectations to achieve success.
Researchers break down self-confidence into many sub-categories to study and assess it and its influence on sport performance. Two basic categories of self-confidence are state and trait.
Trait self-confidence (global) is the degree to which individuals believe in their ability to succeed, in general.
State self-confidence is the belief that they can succeed in a particular moment. In sport, it may be task or skill specific.
According to Feltz, the sources of self-confidence are:
Control, the third of the 4 Cs of sport psychology, refers to emotional control, or composure. An athlete's ability to maintain control of their emotions in the face of adversity and remain positive is essential to winning.
Two emotions which are often associated with poor performance are anxiety and anger. Emotions can claim the athlete’s level of concentration and attentional focus. Identifying when an athlete feels a particular emotion and understanding the reason for the feelings is an important stage in helping an athlete gain emotional control.
Consequences of emotional responses. Emotional responses have an impact on performance, whether positive or negative. The following describes what can happen with emotional responses.
Commitment is the final quality of the 4 Cs. Sport commitment is defined as a psychological state representing the desire or resolve to continue sport participation.
Factors that affect commitment. The Sport Commitment Model developed by Scanlan and her colleagues (2003) suggests that enjoyment, personal investments, involvement opportunities, attractive alternatives, social constraints, and social support all influence an athlete’s level of sport participation and commitment. Among those factors, enjoyment has been the strongest predictor of sport commitment among youth athletes. They also found that sport enjoyment and involvement opportunities were the strongest predictors of sport commitment in elite rugby and collegiate soccer players.
It is generally agreed that motivation is a key contributing factor to commitment. Motivation is defined as the psychological energy, or the force that initiates, or directs, and even sustains our behaviors over a period of time. It is the force driving you to choose certain types of behaviors over others.
The following strategies can help athletes accomplish the 4 Cs of sport psychology:
If you are interested in learning more about the 4 Cs, as well as many other topics, I highly recommend Advances in Sport Psychology. It's a very sound and comprehensive resource in this field.