Getting the Most from Sport Psychology
© Winning Edge Psychological Services, LLC
Many athletes and coaches are interested in sport psychology and mental skills training. They recognize that sport has a mental component, requiring focus, concentration and the ability to direct their thoughts. They desire to learn more about sport psychology and have it become a part of their game. The most common mistake athletes of all levels make is not making sport psychology a daily part of their life. The second most common mistake is attempting to use sport psychology skills in a game or match when they have not used them in practice.
Athletes are physical people who enjoy moving and doing. They are accustomed to hard work and seeing results from their actions. Sport psychology and mental skills are “thinking” skills and have an entirely different feel. Thoughts are not tangible; we cannot touch them or “see” them change. Further, most athletes and coaches have not made time for mental skills training in their daily routine.
The key to getting the most from sport psychology skills is to commit to using them daily. Just like your weight training, plyo-metrics, running and practice you need to “practice” mental skills daily. Daily use of sport psychology skills makes them become “second nature” and they begin to change how you think, feel and compete.
A good example is an athlete who is working on improving confidence or mental toughness. The athlete working on improving confidence and mental toughness would have a confidence statement which they would read aloud or recite to themselves 3 times a day, have confidence cues they say to themselves during practice, awareness skills to catch negative self talk, and a post practice exercise to evaluate their efforts.
This specific plan gives the athlete concrete tangible mental tools to use throughout practice and at specific points in the day. It is critically important that the athlete “practice” their mental skills in daily work outs so they become second nature. By using mental skills daily your confidence will grow and you will notice that your thought processes start to change. As the sport psychology skills are practiced, they become automatic and the athlete no longer has to actively think them in practice. We then utilize the same routine and tools in competition.
To summarize, commit to using your sport psychology skills daily. Pick a specific time in your day (or multiple times) you will use them. Commit to making room for your sport psychology skills in your practice; if need be talk with your sport psychologist or coach regarding where to fit them in. If you find yourself not using them do not give up; problem solve with your consultant or coach and find a solution that will works for you.