5 W's of Sport Psychology

July 13, 2018

“Take athletes where they are, and move them where they need to be”

 

We lost an incredible consultant, friend, and mentor. Although, he was much more than that, Ken simply told me that he was a "teacher."

 

RIP Ken Ravizza

 

Sport Psychology? So you mean you're a Psychologist? What is that? Like Tony Robbins? Oh, so you're a trainer!

 

These are just a few of the comments I get when I try to explain what I do. So let me lay out some important points to consider when learning what a Sport Psychology Consultant is and does.

 

What

 

Sport Psychology is essentially a blend of Psychology and Sport Sciences. Unlike previous myths, it is becoming more prevalent in all levels of sport such as youth, college, professional, and elite because when physical capabilities are similar, the mindset is the next competitive advantage.

 

Each performer has the potential to become a strong/tall tree (athletes, coaches, leaders, entrepreneurs, any career you’re in). Yet all we see is the success from the outside. We don’t see what is underneath the surface that took them to get there.

 

 

Academic disciplines cover more topics such as health benefits of exercise, cultural diversity, aggression, self-worth, child development through sport and much more. However, the heart of Sport Psychology is Performance Enhancement.

 

Here is a list of some common techniques and strategies used. Remember that you can’t replace physical or technical training. There’s no shortcut, this stuff needs consistency and practice.

 

Common Psychology Techniques

Behavior modification

Cognitive therapy

Attentional control

Imagery

Relaxation techniques

Systematic desensitization

 

Cognitive Restructuring Strategies

Relaxation/activation

Sharpening focus

Optimizing self-talk

Developing performance routines

 

Specialized Approaches

Managing pain and injury

Overtraining and burnout

Handling adversity

Transitions out of sport

 

Who

 

The US Olympic Committee has a great article for those that are looking to hire a Sport Psychology Consultant. The key takeaway is to “Hire the Right Sport Psychology Consultant."

 

What the hell does this mean?

 

It means that you should be looking for proper training and credentials to help ensure effectiveness and quality. What are some credentials you should be looking for?

 

  • Master’s in Kinesiology and/or Psychology or Counseling with specific training in Sport and Performance Psychology

  • PhD or PsyD in sport science related degree OR Psychology or Counseling

  • AASP CMPC certification: this is the gold standard when it comes to Sport Psychology services, and has very similar requirements and testing as ATC or CSCS 

  • Competitive athletic background: helpful, but not needed – needs fundamental understanding of sport and performance, but coming from different sport or performance can help and provide unbiased opinions

 

***The consultant does not have to have all of these to be an effective consultant. Even one of these can be of help!***

 

BUYER BEWARE

 

This industry and profession are flooded with “Life Coaches” or “Motivational Speakers” that can charge you thousands of dollars for their ‘secrets’ or ‘proprietary’ methods.

 

Look for consultants that follow a high-performance model, are research-practitioners to support the applied work.

 

So, don’t be afraid to ask them what their credentials, experiences, and education are.

 

When

 

Ideally it is best to start during the off-season or pre-season. There’s generally more time and less pressure so the skills can be practiced before doing them in competition. Then you can continue with integration into the regular competitive season as seems fit.

 

Sport Psychology Consultants typically have meetings before practices and are usually earlier on in the week. Additionally, shorter more frequent sessions are desirable for engagement and consistency.

 

There has even been supporting evidence that show that a year-long Periodized cognitive restructuring program (similar to a strength or endurance program) can maximize athlete development, performance, and peaking (Holliday et al., 2008).

 

Notice the way the year is broken down into specific cycles to optimize performance gains.

 

Where

 

Dr. Ken Ravizza was a pioneer in the Sport Psychology industry and was a teacher of knowledge to many Sport Psychology Consultants. Many people believe that mental training must be sit down or lecture style sessions to show effectiveness.

 

Ken was the king of showing extreme effectiveness in practice environments, where he would call himself the ‘fly on the wall’ and have ‘2-minute convos’ where he would mostly listen then serve as a reminder to the athletes of things they’ve talked about before.

 

As seen below, I coached swimming at Covina High School where I would have the kids lie down ON DECK before practices to do our "Mindful Minute" or practicing visualization strategies.

 

 

Additional settings can be in meeting rooms, team buildings, breakout rooms (see below), or locker rooms where athletes are comfortable like we did at IMG Academy when I worked as a Mental Conditioning Coach. Some also benefit from in-passing interactions in hallways or quick check-ins via social media, text, or calls.

 

 

Why

 

People always talk about wanting to change their mindset, build mental toughness, or clear the mind. Yet, few lack the knowledge above and struggle to do it the right way. Mental training is just as important as physical, technical, tactical, or nutrition.

 

The successful usage of skills typically see success in school and life after sport. Building the right mindset can yield skills such as tenacity, organization, adaptability, resilience, perform under pressure, dedication and perseverance for everyday life.

 

Contact Seth today if you have anymore questions about how Sport Psychology can help you today!

 

Comment below, like, or share! Also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

 

The best is ahead,

Seth

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California, USA