Dr. William Kwabena Owusu a Brain Specialist, has said focusing on sports as a career is one of the most critical mental skills that are needed by sportsmen and women for success as Ghana hosts 2023 African Games.
“Lack of focus is a primary reason for mental errors, mistakes, and inability to perform under pressure,” he told the GNA Sports in an interview.
Dr. Owusu, who is also an expert in Sports Science said the pandemic has not only disrupted many regular aspects of life and career but also led to a halt of sports competitions worldwide.
Focus is one of the critical factors that athletes need to be successful, hence, the need to put their body through all kinds of challenges to succeed because they see sports as a career, not as a hobby.
He said, "success has a lot to do with our mind. Every sports person can accomplish as much as his or her mind would allow. The greatest tool that any athlete or sportsman and woman have is the mind. This is determined if the athlete sees sports as a career, not a hobby. The brain — the wonderful organ that regulates our breathing, controls our heartbeat, and manages the rest of our body is at the core of all successful sports performances”.
He said research available shows that most athletes believe it's now time to see sports as a hobby rather than their future career since their careers have become useless without competitions.
He added that most athletes plan their lives around a sporting competition and potentially put other life experiences, such as career opportunities, children, and marriages, on hold until afterwards, hence, with their competitions and life's benchmarks taken away, athletes may feel a range of emotions and the urge to quit sports.
He said the significant impact of the pandemic on athletes could not be overlooked.
“The pandemic adds complexity to the regular daily stress life of the athlete that can worsen an underlying pre-existing psychological problem and even trigger career ending in sports.
As a specialist, I have noted that due to the pandemic, a lot of athletes want to change sports from a career to hobby.
He explained that pursuing a hobby is often an ongoing experience that one can regularly commit to and described hobby as an activity that one may complete in the free time that brings pleasure.
According to Dr Owusu professional sports requires cultivation and sacrifices; which would be done willingly because one believes in his or her career mission.
Dr Owusu said in Ghana, sportsmen and women do not allow their minds the freedom to pursue their ultimate career in sports adding that, athletes who have experienced high levels of success, often don't believe they would ever reach their true potentials and feels they should have gone for something else instead of sports.
"In developing our personality in Sports, our mind needs to go through major mental training and goal setting career. We need to develop our own personal "mental toolkit" that contains the techniques and strategies we may need to strengthen our mental muscle for the career with all the challenges around.
“Just as you can use equipment to help improve your physical fitness, there are tools we can also use to do the same for our brain to meet the task ahead,” he added.