Here at MSU, the graduate students have the privilege of working with teams and individuals in the surrounding area. This allows us, as students, to apply what we learn and help athletes and teams reap the psychological benefits of mental skills training. It is the second years in the program who lead the sessions while the first years observe and take notes in preparation for their role as co-leads in the winter. This fall we worked with a variety of sports such as volleyball, football, tennis, cross-country, and baseball. No matter the sport, the psychological aspect cannot be underestimated.
“If you don’t rule your mind, your mind will rule you. That’s the way I think about this sport.” – Eliud Kipchoge.
If you are going to take advice from anyone when it comes to marathon running, the world record holder seems like a good place to begin. On the 16th September 2018, Eliud Kipchoge made the history books as he ran 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 1 minute and 29 seconds. Kipchoge emphasizes the mental aspect involved in marathon running in many of his interviews. With that in mind, the Mankato Marathon was an exciting time for the sport psych club here at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The marathon always proves to be an experience that captivates the entire community with events for people of all ages and levels from the toddler trot to the main event and the club was looking forward to using this opportunity to consult with individuals and help them mentally prepare after their tough physical preparation in the last few months.
Ashley Raulli shares her experiences at the 2017 and 2018 AASP national conferences, held in Orlando and Toronto, respectively.
This was my second year attending the Association for Applied Sport Psychology’s (AASP) national conference. It seems like a no brainer that my two experiences were different, but it wasn’t because the content was different. It is because my mindset was different. Last year, I went into the conference wanting to absorb all the information like a sponge. I wasn’t really interested in learning more about future careers or schooling because I had no idea which direction I was going post-graduation. This year, I had a better idea of my purpose in this field, and the AASP conference answered a lot of big questions I had in regards to post-master’s degree life.
Mental skills training is a relatively new discipline, having been popularized in the last 25 years or so. It has been around for much longer, but without a name or a brand attached to it. When working with teams and individuals I often ask the question, “What percentage of your game is psychological?” To this question, most – if not all – performers agree that there is a mental component to their craft that deserves considerable attention, yet all too often there is only a small percentage of practice devoted to mental skills. I was recently thinking about this phenomenon and the reasons behind it.
Phil Niemela shares how coaches can embody their own message by focusing on the process of coaching.
Do you feel as though you are not enjoying coaching as much as you thought you would, or once did? Do you feel pressure for your team to perform perfectly every game? Are you worried that your fans and parents are upset with your coaching?
If you have these feelings (or similar ones) you are not alone, and the good news is that there is a remedy – not a quick fix, but a solution none the less. A popular phrase coaches like to tell their players is “focus on the process”. This phrase is powerful and can help athletes stay engaged during the process of training on a daily basis. It also helps athletes focus on their responsibilities and what they can control during practice and game situations. It provides athletes an outlet to let go of their obsession with immediate results, and instills the belief that if they put in the effort and have a positive, productive attitude, the desired results will eventually come. Being able to focus on the process is a beneficial skill for athletes to acquire, but they are not the only ones who can benefit from it. As the sender of this message, coaches can make the phrase more meaningful and powerful by embodying it themselves.
The process of coaching may seem to be unclear. It is hardly ever talked about (I’m actually thinking that I made it up for this post) but there is a process of coaching. There are things that coaches can do on a daily basis that will help them enjoy coaching more, ease the perceived pressure and worries. Below I have a list of six aspects that coaches can practice every day that make up the process of coaching.