Benefits of Working with a Sport Psychology Coach
So you’ve heard of “sport psychology”, or maybe it was recommended to you by a friend, teammate, coach, or parent. Maybe you listened to one of your favorite professional athletes talk about how they’ve improved their mental game through working with a Sport Psychology Coach. Perhaps you had a negative experience on the court or field that made you think you could benefit from the assistance of a professional who specializes in helping athletes overcome mental barriers that get in the way of playing their best.
Regardless of the reason, working with a Sport Psychology Coach can make a big difference in your performance and for your overall enjoyment of your sport! Here are a few of the main benefits of working with a Sport Psychology Coach:
1. Manage anger and frustration better during competition
Anger and frustration are the byproduct of a gap between the expectations that an athlete has for their performance and their actual performance on the day of competition. A Sport Psychology Coach can work with an athlete to develop techniques to “reset” when they make a mistake, address their mental preparation leading up to game-day, and work with the athlete on their mindset surrounding competition to embrace the inevitable ups and downs of competitive sports.
2. Plan out and “script” self-talk to increase confidence
Self-talk and routines are mental tools that help athletes manage the stressors of competition. A Sport Psychology Coach can work with an athlete to plan and “script” out their self-talk to prepare it for certain moments of competition such as prior to the game/match starting and high-pressure moments that are bound to come up during competition. By talking to yourself in a planned-out and intentional way rather than listening to your self-doubt and fears surrounding competition you will approach the game/match in a far more confident way. When communicating with yourself it is critical to “talk to yourself more and listen to yourself less”.
3. Utilize routines during competition to “reset” when things aren’t going well
A Sport Psychology Coach can help athletes develop routines that can be helpful during competition such as a “reset” routine. This can be done through a combination of various mental tools including the breath, self-talk, and utilizing behaviors that make it clear to the athlete that they need to “reset” and put the mistake or negative event behind them rather than holding on to it during the rest of their game/match. Routines can also be utilized prior to competition (preparation) and after competition (reflection).
4. Learn short- and long-term goal-setting techniques
Ambitious goals can be broken down into much smaller and more manageable pieces. A Sport Psychology Coach can help you approach your outcome goals by generating process goals that make your larger outcome goal feel much more achievable. This can be done through utilizing the SMART Goal framework (Specific Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) and by establishing a development plan for the athlete over a 3/6/12 month period.
5. Develop leadership skills and improve group dynamics
Teams and other groups can greatly benefit from mental training with a Sport Psychology Coach too! These teams can learn key skills to improve their team dynamics through interactive games and activities with the aim to grow as a cohesive unit. Additionally, team leaders such as coaches, captains, and upperclassmen can develop key leadership skills that will be helpful as they interact with their teammates and will also positively serve them in other leadership opportunities in the future.
Athletes have lots of different reasons for seeking out a Sport Psychology Coach, but central to most is a drive to improve their mental game and perform well at their sport. Whether you want to maximize your potential, better manage nerves during competition, or build confidence with a group, for most athletes and teams, a trained Sport Psychology Coach can really help.