Frequently Asked Questions

(FAQ)

What exactly is sport psychology?

Who can benefit from sport psychology and mental skills training?

Why is sport psychology and mental skills training important?

What is a mental skills assessment?

What is performance excellence and performance excellence consultation?

What is the basis for the mental skills training/consulting services offered?

What is mental skills training and what does it involve?

How does performance enhancement or performance excellence consulting differ from crisis or problem based consulting?

What are the possible topics for performance excellence workshops and presentations?

What role does mental skills training play in relation to physical training?

How is the coach involved in the mental skills training/ performance excellence consultation process?

What about ‘clinical’ issues such as eating disorders or excessive life anxiety?


What exactly is sport psychology?

In short, sport psychology is the study of how sport impacts people and how an individual’s mental skills impact his or her physical performance. 

Back to Top


Who can benefit from sport psychology?

Back to Top


Why is sport psychology and mental skills training important?

The mind has the power to either enhance or hurt athletic performance.  No matter how hard or how well an individual trains, the mind is always along for the ride.  Most people neglect or forget about the mental component until negative thoughts, self doubt or anxiety becomes a problem in competitive settings.  Understanding how one’s own mind impacts his or her performance and learning to control and flex these ‘mental muscles’ will help the athlete reduce such problems.  Furthermore, working on skills such as concentration, goal setting, and energy management will not only help enhance personal performance at race time, but will also help the athlete get more out of routine training as well.

Back to Top


What is a mental skills assessment?

Mental skills assessment is the evaluation of the psychological skills related to performance through the completion of assessment scales and/or interviews.  Important skills for peak performance have been identified in research through in-depth studies of Olympic and elite level athletes around the world in a variety of sports.  The performance skills assessment is designed to enhance self awareness and provide the athlete with an insight into his or her personal mental strengths and areas where he or she can improve. 

Back to Top


What is performance excellence and performance excellence consultation?

Performance excellence consultation is an individual consult or ongoing individual relationship between an athlete and a sport psychology professional designed teach various performance enhancement skills and techniques.  Depending on the athlete’s needs and interests, an appropriate skill progression can be designed to maximize skill development and to help the athlete meet his or her individual goals.

Back to Top


What is the basis for the mental skills training/consulting services offered?

The consulting approach for mental skills training component is cognitive-behavioral oriented.  This means that the approach and techniques utilized are based on the belief that individual behavior is influenced by both environmental and personal psychological factors.  By learning new cognitive strategies, performance enhancement skills, and new ways to interpret and understand the surroundings, athletes can positively change how he or she perceives, approaches, and handles the environment, interactions with others, and performance.

 

In any consulting situation, the role of the consultant needs to be clearly defined among all involved individuals prior to beginning.  Performance excellence consulting and skills assessment are designed to enhance personal development, individual enrichment, and performance enhancement.  Performance excellence consulting is not designed or intended to assist in team selection, recruitment, or hiring decisions and it does not replace counseling services for life issues such as eating disorders, depression, or anger management.

Back to Top


What is mental skills training and what does it involve?

Mental skills training is a process of learning skills and techniques for managing different aspects of performance.  Like physical skills, everyone has natural skill strengths and weaknesses.  Skill training focuses on identifying important skills, showing individuals how they relate to performance, and teaching techniques and methods for learning and practicing these skills.  The following is a basic list of some of the more common topics areas that are a part of mental skills training.

v     Stress and anxiety management

v     Arousal control

v     Relaxation and imagery training

v     Time management/ life balance

v     Self-talk

v     Goal setting

v     Concentration enhancement and distraction control

v     Self-confidence and self esteem work

v     Training adherence/ motivation

v     Staleness and burnout prevention

v     Mental preparation and performance planning

v     Communication

v     Coaching education and enhancement

v     Positive sport parenting education

v     Sport psychology education

v     Individual and team performance evaluation review

v     Coach and parent education

v     Team unity/ team building

v     Executive coaching

Back to Top


How does performance enhancement or performance excellence consulting differ from crisis or problem based consulting?

Crisis based or problem based consulting is not the ideal way to begin learning or developing new mental skills, however, situations for such work present themselves more often than not.  Many athletes are not willing to looking into the mental side of training until a problem or crisis presents itself.  Common ‘crisis’ issues include feeling overwhelmed or burnout or trouble coping with post crash anxiety.  Often the initial consult is such a situation is full of frustration, sadness, and other raw emotions.  The sport psychology consultant in this situation usually spend quite a bit of time listening and helping the individual express themselves and in summary suggests a few potential coping ideas.  If the individual is willing, follow up consultations are helpful to create a plan of action and to facilitate the necessary skill learning.  In rare instances, the consultant may suggest a referral if the nature of the crisis indicates a need beyond the scope of performance enhancement sport psychology.

Back to Top


What are the possible topics for performance excellence workshops and presentations?

Topics can be tailored to the specific needs of the group or organization.  Performance Excellence workshops and presentations can incorporate a variety of performance excellence topics.  Potential topics include but are not limited to Positive Parent Push and Fostering Talent (for junior development programs), Using Mental Skills for Performance Excellence, Enhancing Motivation, Goal Setting for Success, Training with Intent, Coping with Pre-race Anxiety, and Time Management. 

Back to Top


What role does mental skills training play in relation to physical training?

Performance excellence consulting and mental skills training does not take the place of physical practice and hard work and does not provide a quick fix or instant success.  Individuals need to be willing to practice skills and to follow through if the consult is to be successful.  Some skills, like goal setting, are typically in addition to physical training, as a part of the season prep and the ongoing season analysis process.  For other skills, like focus and concentration, skills learning may start off the bike but ultimately the goal is to integrate the use of the skills into physical training so that the athlete is training the mental and physical aspects of peak performance together. 

Back to Top


How is the coach involved in the mental skills training/ performance excellence consultation process?

The role of the coach in the process is dependent on the needs and wishes of the athlete.  The athlete/ consultant relationship is confidential and information discussed during consults will remain private and confidential unless a) the individual provides consent for the information to be shared or b) there is perceived immanent harm possible.  It is important for coaches and other individuals involved in the athletes training need to be willing to reinforce skills and provide positive and constructive feedback and encouragement.  Whenever possible, it is suggested that the athlete include his or her coach in the process of enhancing mental skills for performance enhancement.

Back to Top


What about ‘clinical’ issues such as eating disorders or excessive life anxiety?

Performance excellence consultation and mental skills training provided by performance excellence consultants is not designed or intended to treat psychological disorders such as depression, personality disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders.  These issues need to be addressed by a qualified professional who specialize in these issues and should be addressed away from the sport setting due to the serious life impact that such issues present.  Performance excellence consultants do not provide these services but are be trained in recognize such issues and making the appropriate referrals to qualified professionals.  It is possible for a performance excellence consultant to work together with a counselor in another area to help enhance an athlete’s performance.

Back to Top