EIMEAR McCARTHY is the performance coach working with the Cork senior camogie team ahead of their All-Ireland final showdown this Sunday.
Sports psychology has become a huge part in both professional and amateur sports over the past number of years as those with expertise help athletes overcome problems, enhance their performance, and achieve their goals. This can be as true for off the pitch as on it.
Now working towards her accreditation in Sport Psychology Eimear has a strong background.
“I started studying sports science in 2011, completing my bachelor’s degree in Sport and Exercise Science in 2015. In my third year I was on work placement where I worked for Team Scotland during their Commonwealth Games and that’s where I saw more sports psychology and decided that was the role I wanted to go down. When I finished in UL, I did my masters in sports psychology in Stirling in Scotland.
“Once that was completed, I went to the US for a couple of years and am back home now working towards my accreditation with the association for applied Sports Psychology.”
There seems to be added pressure on children to achieve in sport across the Atlantic.
“I think with the cost of college in the US parents might invest more in their kids' sport so they can improve. By doing this it can increase their chances of getting a scholarship and helping reduce the cost and the likelihood of student debt, which is massive.”
Eimear is working for Athletic Evolution SPT based in San Diego and is working on creating online programs for student-athletes. She also works for Sterling Sport Mindset whose headquarters are in Kansas City.
“This role is focused on providing sport psychology support to clients. We get a lot of athletes or parents who reach out to us and are looking for help in this area.
“While the main focus is on improving sport performance, we have a focus on life outside of sport as well, helping them navigate challenges they face and how the skills they learn for sport can also be applied in their everyday lives.
“It’s a really great role and I love being part of such a supportive team.”
It was rugby that inspired Eimear to look into the fascinating world of Sports Psychology.
“I used to find place kicking in rugby fascinating even when I was much younger, looking at the routines and how different players have their own ones really interested me.
“I guess at the time I might not have known it was a part of sport psychology, but it was what triggered my interest.”
It was another arrow that Cork camogie wanted to bring to their setup. She had a chat with Paudie Murray last April and has been working with the team since.
“I’m extremely lucky in that I love what I do so to be involved with such a great group of athletes is an amazing opportunity. I work primarily on the development of mental skills, such as confidence, intensity management, composure and also developing a positive team environment.
It is something that needs to be worked on consistently and the relationship you build with the athletes is extremely important and not something that is developed overnight.
“It’s not just something you can do in a couple of sessions and expect to have incredible results.
‘The most important aspect for me is being able to build a relationship with the athletes you’re working with. This relationship and being able to connect with them sets the groundwork.”
Where does the future of sport psychology lie?
“I’d really love to see sport psychology integrated into the underage systems.
“Where athletes might have access to skills or strength and conditioning coaches, they’d also have sport psychology support.
“It can be extremely beneficial in life outside of sport as well which is something I think is equally as important when working with younger athletes.”