Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is Sport Psychology?
Sport Psychology is the study of a person’s behavior in sport. It is also a specialization within the brain psychology and kinesiology that seeks to understand psychological/mental factors that affect performance in sports, physical activity, and exercise and apply these to enhance individual and team performance. Contrary to popular myths, sports psychology is not about dealing with crazy people and it’s not a quick fix or magic potion. It deals with increasing performance by managing emotions and minimizing the psychological effects of injury and poor performance. Some of the most important skills taught are goal setting, relaxation, visualization, self-talk, awareness and control, concentration, confidence, using rituals or routines, attribution training, and periodization.
What is a Sport Psychology Consultant (SPC) or Performance Enhancement Consultant?
SPC or Performance Enhancement Consultants are professionals trained in sport and exercise but are not licensed psychologists or counselors. Also known as sport and exercise psychology consultants or mental coaches. They provide individual or group consultations geared towards performance–related issues.
Who can benefit from working with an SPC and why use one?
Any person can benefit from using a consultant to improve their performance. Although most elite, professional and Olympic athletes utilize them, many college athletes, musicians, artists and actors, high school and club athletes are the most common clientele.
Would mental training be useful for me?
Consider your responses to the following questions in determining whether you could benefit from Sport Psychology:
- Do you feel like you are doing all you can with your physical training, but still aren’t seeing the results you want?
- Do you ever struggle with confidence?
- Are you known as a great practice player but not able to transfer that ability in competition?
- Do you experience fear or anxiety before or during a competition?
- Are you ever unsure as to what type of goals to be setting for your training and competitions?
- Are there times when you can’t seem to find the motivation to train?
- When you fail or struggle, do you ever give yourself credit for something good that you did in spite of not hitting your goal?
- Do you find yourself thinking negatively when you are fatigued during training or competing?
- Are you a perfectionist and never happy regardless of your outcome?
- Do you ever feel overwhelmed with having to balance your sport with other aspects of your life?
- Coaches can consider your responses to these questions as well:
- Does your team need to establish more mental toughness?
- Would you like to explore ideas as to how to get the most out of your athletes?
- Could your team have stronger communication, respect for each another’s abilities, and commitment to team goals?
- Would you like to see your team captains provide excellent leadership?
- Do you have a hard time balancing all the demands placed on you?
As you can see, there are many issues that competitors have to deal with and not everyone has the tools to manage them properly. And as one goes to school to learn, a performer, athlete, artist, coach, or even parent can learn how to manage their stressors better to make life easier.
If I see a Sport Psychology Consultant, doesn’t that indicate that I am mentally weak?
It’s actually the opposite – the ability to realize that you want to make the most of your athletic or artist potential should be viewed as strength. The majority of Olympians and numerous professional athletes and teams utilize mental training because they realize that it can give them an edge over their opponents. Business executives have mentors and executive coaches to help keep them on the fast track, stay ahead of their competition, and maximize their earning potential so why wouldn’t you give yourself the same advantage.
Isn’t sport psychology for athletes who are depressed or have an eating disorder?
There are two different types of sport psychology professionals. Clinical sport psychologists are licensed psychologists who help athletes with issues such as depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and family problems. I am an example of the other type of sport psychology professional – I help athletes with the mental side of their performance, just as a coach helps athletes with their physical preparation. I am often called a “mental coach.” If an athlete presents issues like this, which are out of my area of expertise, then I have a list of clinical psychologists whom I have a relationship with to refer you to see.
Is what we speak about confidential or will you tell my coach everything we talk about?
First of all, my job is to help you the athlete. Obviously, I have to share some of the information with your parents and/or the coach to the extent that I want them to all help in your progress and growth. While I think it can be beneficial for you to share what you learn with your coach, everything we discuss is confidential unless: you are under the age of 14, you provide your consent, or you reveal information that could potentially harm you or someone else. If you are professional, elite, collegiate or high school athlete, those items which you feel strongly about will remain confidential and we will work to provide progress reports which compliment what we are doing without doing damage to our integrity and professional agreement or jeopardize your earning potential with your employer or team.
How long do sessions take?
Individual sessions tend to vary from 30-90 minutes, but average 45-60 minutes. As for group sessions or observations in the field, they may last longer depending on the sport.
What is the process of working with a Sport Psychology Consultant and how long before I can see results?
This depends on many factors, but all athletes must be willing to practice mental training on their own in order to see results. Sport Psychology Consultants are not magicians who can simply make problems disappear and turn you into a champion. I will provide you with resources that you can use to make the most of your abilities, but you need to realize that mental training is similar to physical training. You cannot master physical skills in one day – it takes a lot of practice to see success, and mental skills work the same way. That being said, some athletes find that they only need a few sessions of mental training to get them where they want to be, while others prefer more consistent meetings (starting by meeting weekly, to every other week, then checking in on a monthly or as needed basis).
Each athlete/team/performer is unique and as a result, the first session may begin with my observing you in the work environment performing your craft (practice or game). Then an assessment is done to determine your performance goals (short and long), how committed you, the performer are at overcoming the identified issues, and then I provide recommendations on how to proceed forward. The most common reason to seek out a consultant is wanting to develop an edge, improving an area of performance that seems to be suffering, or finding a better way to master a craft/skill. Areas such as motivation, goal setting, imagery and visualization, concentration and focus, performance routines, improving at consistency in practice, team bonding, mental toughness, dealing with distractions, and letting go of your mistakes are big issues that almost all performers face at one time or another and benefit from my assistance.
Should I wait until I have a slump before contacting a consultant?
One should never take the approach “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Sometimes what seems to be working needs to be broken in order to exponentially grow or move to the next level. Like the Eastern philosophy of medicine, I not only take a holistic approach but we encourage all performers to be aware of the situation and be proactive in helping themselves. Awareness is 50% of the battle and with issues like self-doubt, the “yips”, or motivation there are simple tools which can be used to minimize one’s demons.
What is your fee?
My fee for young athletes (high school and below) is $195/hour. The rate structure is different and higher for college and amateur performers, Olympic, or professional with each having it’s unique program that is specific to the level of service required.