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.
As a first year, the experience of working with the fall teams was eye-opening. Each session is carefully planned and as the first years have learned, one size does not fit all! The planning process included all graduate students with guidance from our more experienced mentors. In volleyball and soccer, team cohesion was a key focus of these sessions. In sport and life in general, we are constantly affected by those around us. We all know that for a team to reach optimal performance, everyone from staff, to star players, to substitutes need to be working for one another and for a common goal. Using team building activities we aimed to make athletes consider the current environment, where they would like to be, and deciding how we can help them reach that level of cohesiveness. It is not only the teams that benefitted from working on team cohesion but as future Certified Mental Performance Consultants (CMPCs), we are more affective when we communicate and work as one unit in planning and in delivering each session.
Sports such as cross-country and tennis may be perceived as ‘individual’ but in high school and college, each team member’s result contributes to the team’s final standings. Therefore, team cohesion was also a huge component as we worked with these sports as well. Another focus was on goal setting as individuals and as a team. The power of goal-setting has been proven time and time again in sports settings and in every aspect of our lives. We hope that helping these teams and individuals set outcome goals will give them purpose and motivation during tough times, performance goals are essentially what will guide them towards the outcome, and process goals are the small steps we must take each day in order to be successful. Similarly, the same can be said for any professional: goal-setting is crucial to self-development as we (in this program) work towards our desire to be CMPCs. Being a CMPC may be an outcome goal, but each week and semester we must perform to apply the knowledge we learn, and each day we must embrace the process of attending classes and maintaining a degree of professionalism to ensure we are competent professionals when we do reach our outcome.
A huge thank you to the fall sport’s teams we worked with who definitely helped us in our development as future CMPCs and we are psyched for winter sports to begin!