Mental training includes strategies to help athletes cope with performance anxiety, change your thoughts and beliefs, train your physical and emotional reactions to stressors, manage anger, better administer your time, direct your attention, and other skills to help you deal with roadblocks during your athletic career. Many athletes, parents, and coaches find that mental skills can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, and the challenges of daily life. Sport performance consultants/Mental performance consultants can provide a fresh perspective on many performance issues or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from mental training depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits can be:
- Greater athletic performance
- Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
- Directed effort
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself
Some athletes are naturally mentally tough. However, anyone can face challenging situations in life and sport, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you have faced, there is nothing wrong with seeking out extra help when you need it. Mental skills can also help you to acquire sports skills faster or maintain your high level of performance. Mental toughness is the term used to define a personality trait that determines how people deal with challenges, stressors, and pressure independent of existing circumstances. Mental Training can help you to develop mental toughness if you do not have it.
Athletes have different motivations to seek mental training, sometimes they are seeking for encouragement or skills to get them through difficult periods, and usually, improvements in performance is the main reason. However, mental skills alone will not turn an average athlete into a superstar athlete. The quality and quantity of training also influence athletic performance. Mental training and Biofeedback do not replace physical training; it complements.
Each athlete has different needs and goals for mental training, the skills learned will be different depending on the individual. Also, your specific needs and commitment to our work will determine if acquiring psychological skills to enhance athletic performance can be short-term or longer-term. Usually, six sessions are enough to see results. If the work includes Biofeedback Training, at least ten sessions are required.
You do not control your emotions, but you can choose how to respond to them in a way that improves performance. Psychophysiologically speaking, emotion is a reaction to environmental and/or social stimulus. You “see” something, and your brain associates it with your past experiences. If it is a situation you perceive as a threat to your safety, your body prepares to “fight or flight”. The emotional response is automatic; however, it is your awareness that you are having a reaction that allows you to choose different ways to respond. Biofeedback training can increase your self-knowledge of automatic responses and help you to train new reactions. After lots of practice, your automatic responses will change.
You only control what can be controlled, for example, your performance. Unfortunately, bad things happen in sport, and your focus should be only on what can be controlled. You can train how you will react to unexpected situations such as mistakes from your teammates or yours, tough luck, a bad call from an official, or exceptional performance by an opponent. Also, there is a specific biofeedback modality we can use to make this training more efficient.
Self-regulation is a skill of being aware of the mind and body states and being able to adjust your physiological responses. Equipped with this knowledge, athletes can lower or increase mental and emotional activation, and change attention and focus as needed.
You can use self-regulation skills anytime during daily situations to practice them. However, there are specific times during the game to self-regulate. And there will be times that you will have to accept what you are feeling and bring it with you. If athletes move their attention from what is relevant to performance to internal sensations to self-regulate; it can be a distraction and decrease performance — I will teach you how to use this valuable skill.
There are multiple ways to boost confidence; however, real confidence comes from trust in your skills. Do you trust the type of training you have? Is there anything that could be implemented to learn sports skills even faster? Let’s say you are well trained and prepared; unfortunately, a sequence of bad results destroys your confidence. In this case, we pay attention to what you are saying to yourself during those bad moments. Do you beat yourself with negative self-talk? During the Psychophysiological stress assessment, I can see if you tend to ruminate about the bad past events and there is a mental skill to help you “let things go”.
Can you genuinely motivate someone to do something painful and not always fun? Maybe, motivation in sport is a myth. Coaches can create the best environment possible to encourage athletes to practice more, enhance learning, or bring more fun for young players. And maybe, the best environment possible will keep athletes moving towards their goals, but there will be difficult times, and athletes may feel lost and wish to give up. Commitment to your sport and your goals is what will keep you moving in the desired direction. Commitment is a behavior and not a skill, so you choose to commit to your sport. I can help athletes connect to what they value most in their sport, so when hard times come, athletes can re-connect and keep moving forward.