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Psychological Skills Training

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Rachel Luney

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of Psychological Skills Training

Psychological Skills Training By Rachel Luney What is PST? What is my role? What are our aims? Why is it important? How? What can you get out of this? Myths and Issues What is my role as a Sports Psychologist? To work with athletes to help improve their performances through mental training. Teach skills to help athlete focus, cope with pressure, enhance their learning process and motor skills.
Be non-judgemental.
Listen and be patient.
Make sure the athlete fully understands what they are doing and that they know the benefits of it (Ellis, Louise, 2010).
Act as a mediator if needed.
To work together with the coach and help with communication between athletes and coaches. There are many myths that surround sports psychology. Here are just a few... 1. It is only for the mentally weak. Elite athletes use sports psychologists regularly to help improve their mental skills but they wouldn't be considered mentally weak to start with. By using psychological techniques they are able to enhance their performances. (Cohn, P., 2007). 2. Sports Psychology is only for elite athletes. Most elite athletes publicly get psychological help, and may perhaps benefit more than beginners as they are the base knowledge of the sport already. However anyone can benefit. In fact, it can help athletes get to an elite level if they are the correct mental skills (Mountain Mental, 2012). What will we work on? What model will we use? Three Phase Model Five Phase Model (Kirshenbaum, 1984) Assessment Methods There are two main models which I feel would benefit us in this situation. This includes:

The Three Stage Model.
The Five Phase Model.

They are both equally valid and have positives and negatives, but both will be used in some way throughout the training programme. The three stage model consists of stages:
The Educational Phase - The areas to work on are discovered by the psychologist through interviews, questionnaires, observations etc, and how to deal with these areas are taught to the athlete.
The Acquisition Phase - The athlete learns skills and finds which is best for them.
The Practice Phase - The athlete practise's the skills in training and competition (Psychology Campus, 2008).

This is a very simple model which is easy to follow, however, there is some overlap on each of the levels. To make sure everything is covered, a more detailed model would be useful. The five stage model is more detailed than the three stage model and is more focused on the regulation of the skills learnt and how the athlete will go about that.
Problem Identification - evaluate an athletes training and behavior for ways to enhance their performance. Finds ways they can alter their psychological approach.
Commitment - this is based on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, without it they won't have the desire to succeed. The athlete needs to be committed to schedules, training sessions and take responsibility for what they do.
Execution - the method of regulating behavior in order to change it. Giving feedback to oneself.
Environment Management - looks at social and physical networks that surrounds the goal e.g. friends, coaches,, facilities.
Generalization - being able to translate the skills into all aspects of life and it becoming automatic to the athlete (Athletic Insight, 2004). I chose the five stage model over the three stage model as is covers a few areas which aren't thought about such as the environmental and commitment stages. Though the three stage model may be used to show where we are on a timeline, such as the beginning phase of learning, then acquiring the skills then practicing, we will predominately follow the five stage model as the athlete will be able to see their progress better. Figure 3. This is an example of the types of questions asked to the athlete (Aldahwi, A. 2012). How will the training programme be designed? "The systematic and consistent practice of mental skills ... to enhance performance."

(Psychology Campus, 2008). In a study of ten nationally ranked gymnastic of a 10 month long PST programme, in 3 out of 4 of the events they competed in, the ones following the programme progressed 5% more than those not following the programme. Fournier, J. F., et al. (2005) 1. Improved performance from your athletes. 2. Get more out of your training. Relaxation (muscle tensing)
Focus - self talk.

(Tod, D., et al., 2010) Interviews.
Questionnaires. 3. Athletes with a better attitude. 4. Athletes will have a better understanding of their technical and mental performance. To improve performance! Control arousal levels Concentration- practise, comp.
Control body (jumping etc, not too big, enough to get height). Control / remove self doubt Control anxiety Relaxation.
Muscle tension.
Self talk. Create good coach/athlete relationship Skaters frequently pop jumps. It is a very mental sport.
On own, great deal to focus on.
Self-doubt. One mistake can lead to more. Training needs to be focused. A bad day can significantly affect their technical/physical performance. Figure 1. This show some of the results of one athlete in this study. For each element, we can see that their levels fluctuated before starting the programme and evened out as the training progressed. This shows that PST programme can help the athlete become more consistant in many areas or steadily increase there skills over time. (Fornier, J. F., et al., 2005) 3. You can't alter someone's mental state, e.g. they are either 'mentally strong' or 'mentally weak', Sports psychologists can teach them the necessary skills in order for them to become mentally strong. By being open to them, learning them and practising them, an athlete can change their mental capacity (Mountain Mental, 2012). 4. It should only be used as a last resort or when in a slump. Doing this is almost like going to the doctors when you have a cold. You only do something about it once you have it. Sports psychology is the 'diet and exercise' needed to help prevent the 'cold' / 'slump'. It can help prevent slumps and helps the athlete understand why they are in a slump, rather than it being a quick solution to it (Mountain Mental, 2012). Can cause skaters to 'pop' jumps.
Can take up time in training.
Causes frustration.
Relaxation, self-talk, imagery (off ice practise). Act as mediator.
Create a better understanding for skater.
Have them work together as a team. Due to the relaxation techniques, teaching them concentration and to use imagery, their performances should increase in a competitive and training situation. Their anxiety levels should decrease and how they manage stress should become better, all resulting in a better performance, allowing them to concentrate of their technical skills. If an athlete is able to focus better on the task at hand, there should be a decrease in distractions and time wasting. Also, by helping the athlete control or get rid of self-doubt, time should be saved from repeatedly false jumping and this means you can focus on the technique and improving it, rather than just taking off. If an athlete can control their stress, anxiety and arousal levels, they should be in a better mindset in their training and competition and not feel the need to challenge points. If they are able to control their mind with the skills learnt, they will be able to turn ‘bad days’ into ‘good days’. By evaluating their skills at the beginning and again at the end, they will be able to automatically and independently evaluate and provide their own feedback on their performances. Of course this doesn’t mean that the coach is no longer needed, this just means they may be able to identify when self-doubt is causing them to pop their jumps. Pre-season is a good place to start as this allows us to see where the athlete is now add work on their mental skills in preparation for the competitive season. We will be following the five-stage model I talked about earlier in order to create a programme. We will first evaluate what needs working on. This may be though observations, questionnaires or interviews. Specific problems will show through and we shall work out the underlying causes of them. Once these are found, we can select the skills that would be best suited to the individual.

A schedule will be created in order to observe training and attend meetings. This will probably take place once or twice a week in half-hour sessions whenever is convenient for the athlete. In these sessions I will teach the necessary skills to the skater in order to help the problems and make sure that they understand fully why and how these can help them. The athlete would be expected to practise these skills throughout the programme and slowly introduce them generally into their life. There will be continual evaluation all the way through perhaps an evaluation session every couple of weeks. If a certain method doesn’t work on need or needs more support them we work on it within the session or try new skills to suit the individual’s needs. At the end of the programme, we will review the progress by completing another questionnaire. This will provide a direct comparison of their psychological skills from the beginning to the end. With the coach and athlete’s permission, I would observe the training sessions. This would allow me to directly see if there are any problems with concentrating, popping jumps, agitation etc.

A questionnaire will provide a model to compare the athlete’s progress to. It would include questions that assess the anxiety, arousal and motivation levels of the skater. I have provided some sample questions that could be used.

Interviews provide me to understand any problems from the skater’s view and get to any underlying issues. These can be done with or without the coach present.

The results of any competitions they perform will hopefully give us some positive results if the training is going well. Recording these results and comparing them to past and future results will allow us to see if there are any changes and if any changes need to be made to the programme.
Figure 2. Mental Periodization Plan (Judge, L. W., 2010) Bibliography

Figure 1. Fournier, J. et al. (2005) Effects of a Season-Long PST Program on Gymnastic Performance and on Psychological Skill Development. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 3 (1), p.69

Figure 2. Judge, L. W (2010). Developing a Mental Game Plan. Available from: http://thesportjournal.org/article/developing-mental-game-plan-mental-periodization-achieving-flow-state-track-and-field-throws [Accessed on 05/10/12]

Figure 3. Figure Skating Psychology (2012) Figure Skaters Mental Game Test | Sports Psychology for Figure Skating. Available at: http://www.figureskatingpsychology.com/test-your-mental-game/ [Accessed on 19/10/12]

Athletic Insight (2004). Mental Skills Training For Sport, A Brief Review. Available from: http://www.athleticinsight.com/Vol6Iss1/MentalSkillsReview.htm [Accessed on 19/10/12]

Cohn, P. (2012) Three Myths about Sports Psychology. [video online] Available at: [Accessed on 15/10/12].

Ellis, L. (2010). Role of A Sports Psychologist, Louise’s interview for the Government jobs website. Available from: http://louiseellis.com/louises-recent-interview-for-the-government-jobs-website [Accessed 19/10/12]

Fournier, J. et al. (2005) Effects of a Season-Long PST Program on Gymnastic Performance and on Psychological Skill Development. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 3 (1), p.59-78

Judge, L. W (2010). Developing a Mental Game Plan. Available from: http://thesportjournal.org/article/developing-mental-game-plan-mental-periodization-achieving-flow-state-track-and-field-throws [Accessed on 19/10/12]

Mountain Mental (2012). Sports Psychology Myths and Misconceptions. Available from: http://mountainmental.com/10422.html [Accessed on 19/10/12]

Psychology Campus (2008). Enhancing Performance – Psychological Skills Training and it’s Importance. Available from: http://www.psychologycampus.com/sports-psychology/enhancing-performance.html [Accessed on 19/10/12]

Suinn, R. M. (1980) Body thinking for Olympic champs (appendix B). In Psychology in Sports: Methods and Application. Burgess, Minneapolis.

Tod, D. et al. (2010) Sport Pyschology. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Summary

Physical training isn't always enough to create a top athlete. They must train their mind as well as their body.

Improve their performance, their mentality and their health with sports psychology.
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