We can train our brains to improve cognitive function, motivation, manage emotions, and improve our interpersonal skills, which leads to better performance in sport and life in general. The methods and techniques to train our brains are psychological skills training programs (mental skills), biofeedback training, and mindfulness approaches to enhance athletic performance. These techniques come from different sciences, and most of them come from psychology; however, mental training is NOT therapy for troublesome athletes. Unfortunately, many misconceptions about performance psychology led to hesitance in implementing mental training programs for athletes of all ages and skill levels. Yes! The name is “Performance Psychology,” but not everything that includes the word “psychology” means therapy. Surgeons, business managers, and athletes also use these skills to maximize their performance in different settings. So, let’s call it mental training. And it is training because individuals/clients take an active role in practicing those skills. Clients practice a lot until the patterns of brain activation change!
- Mental training is educational, and the athlete/client understands why the choices were made. FORGET about the image of a client/athlete laying on the couch in a quiet and dark office space talking about secrets and emotions!
- Mental training is collaborative and transparent. The performance psychology practitioner/mental coach and client work as a team collecting data and identifying what is causing the decrease in performance. Then, they work together on the intervention. There is NO magic or someone telling the client what to do.
- The sport psychology professional helps the athlete test and implement the mental skill into the sport practice. And if it does not work, they (practitioner and athlete) improve the skills or come with another one.
- Mental training is focused on the presenting issue. There is a measure for the issue (the baseline is measured). The skills are applied and then, the professional re-assess to know if the problem/performance deficit is improving.
- Mental training is skills-focused and time-limited; there is an endpoint!
So, if you want to learn more, contact me!
Andrea C. Dias, MA, ABSP
Master’s degree in Sport and Performance Psychology
American Board of Sport Psychology: Board Certified Consultant in Sport Psychology