An Overview Of An Exciting, Valuable Field, By
Bill Cole, MS, MAThe Mental Game Coach™
Silicon Valley, California
Sports psychology consultants are fast becoming far more accepted and utilized as a valuable competitive edge among athletes and coaches. A sports psychology consultant can be your secret weapon in your mental training arsenal. They can help you dramatically improve your learning, training and performance.
This article gives you a broad overview of the world of sports psychology consultants. You will learn who uses sports psychology consultants, how they operate, and what they can do for you.I was fortunate to be the first person in the world to earn an undergraduate degree in sports psychology. I did this in 1978 at the State University of New York at Buffalo. I later earned two graduate degrees in related areas, and I have been working in the field as a sports psychology consultant for over 30 years, in over 55 sports. I have coached thousands of elite performers, seven national champions, and world champions. Recently, one of my clients, Miriam Nakamoto, won her fourth world kickboxing championship, and became the first U.S. woman in history to hold the WBC Muay Thai World title.
Who Uses Sports Psychology Consultants?
Sports psychology is no longer a well-kept secret. It seems everyone in sports uses this mind coach, at the very minimum, to not fall behind their competitors. Indeed, working with a sports psychology consultant can give you the winning edge. Virtually every college, university, national team, Olympic team, and pro team has a sports psychology consultant on staff. Look at the representation of sports psychology consultants being utilized across the entire range of sports:
- Major league professional sports teams.
- Minor league professional sports teams.
- Individual professional athletes in every sport.
- Olympic teams in every sport.
- National coaching associations.
- National teams in every sport.
- University and college athletic departments.
- University and college athletic teams.
- Individual college athletes in every sport.
- Coaches in every sport.
- Parents in every sport.
- Individual recreational athletes in every sport.
High Profile Championship Teams Who Use Sports Psychology Consultants
The top teams in sports regularly use sports psychology consultants to maintain the sharp edge of focus, determination and a winning mind set. Here are five well-known superstar teams that have sports psychology consultants on their coaching staffs:
- Baseball World Series Champions New York Yankees
- Basketball NBA World Champions San Antonio Spurs
- NFL Football Superbowl Champions Dallas Cowboys
- NCAA National Football Champions University of Nebraska
- Baseball College World Series Champions Stanford University.
Which Sports Most Often Use Sports Psychology Consultants?This is difficult to determine exactly, but based on the sports psychology literature, and other evidence, it is probably safe to say that golf is #1 and tennis is #2. There are no other sports that come close to these two in the volume of books and articles that are written on the mental game each year. Indeed, top pro golf stars like Ernie Els, Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, Mark O'Meara, Greg Norman, David Duval, Vijay Singh and Jack Nicklaus all have used, or are currently using sports psychology consultants on their coaching teams.
Look at some of the big names in pro golf who have used sports psychology consultants. It's estimated that well over 300 of the pro game's players regularly use sports psychology consultants:
Davis Love III
Frank Lickliter II
Charles Howell III
David Morland IV
Let's take a look at how a sports psychology consultant can help you as an athlete, as a parent of an athlete, or as a coach. Here are seven areas in which a sports psychology consultant works, and how they apply this knowledge to sports learning and performance.
1. A Sports Psychology Consultant Helps You Assess Your Mental Strengths And Weaknesses As An Athlete: You need to know where you stand, and what you need to do to improve your mental approach to your sports.
2. A Sports Psychology Consultant Helps You Work Better With Your Support Staff: You need solid working relationships with the key people who support you in your sports. That would be your parents, coaches, trainers, teammates and anyone else who can help you. A sports psychology consultant helps you forge these important relationships.
3. A Sports Psychology Consultant Helps You Learn More From Your Coaches: You need to know your learning style and needs, and how to communicate that to your coach, so you can work better as a team.
4. A Sports Psychology Consultant Helps Guide You In Your Career: There are many challenges and potential wrong turns in a sports career. Your sports psychology consultant helps you create a vision for success, and to execute that master plan.
5. A Sports Psychology Consultant Helps You Learn Mental Readiness: You must know how to prepare mentally and emotionally in your sports. A sports psychology consultant helps you devise a customized mental readiness plan for lessons, practices and competitions.
6. A Sports Psychology Consultant Helps You Enter The Zone: The zone is the master key to your performance success. A sports psychology consultant shows you how to get there more often.
7. A Sports Psychology Consultant Helps You Learn How To Motivate Yourself: You need a combination of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. A sports psychology consultant helps you achieve this delicate blend.
What Happens In A Sports Psychology Consulting Session?Sports psychology consulting is a process, a learning experience. It's an opportunity to grow as an athlete and as a person. It's an enlightening growth process, and a very interesting one. You will learn more about yourself as an athlete, and as a person.
It's a special time that is all yours, for you to use any way that you see fit. It's your own personal mental training class and consulting session. It's a chance to receive personalized teaching from an expert in the mental game. It's a custom coaching class that focuses on your mind.
Here is what takes place during a sports psychology consulting session. This list demystifies the sports psychology coaching process and gives you confidence that your sports psychology consultant has your best interests and well-being in mind at all times. In the sports psychology coaching session you will be able to:
1. Discuss any performance issues that trouble you or concern you.
2. Talk about any emotional obstacles holding you back.
3. Explore any technical issues that affect your mental game.
4. Engage in creative exploration of how to resolve these issues.
5. Understand the mind-body connection and how to make it work for you.
6. Gain additional perspectives on your sports experiences and challenges.
7. Feel deeply listened to and respected as you discuss your problems.
8. Assess your mental strengths and weaknesses.
9. Devise a mental training plan to help you overcome mental weaknesses.
10. Discover learning experiences and exercises to help you become self aware.
11. Share the kind of things and ask the kind of questions you would normally not be able to share with your friends, parents or coaches.
12. Grow from being assigned mental training homework.
13. Be assessed on a variety of mental measures to increase your awareness.
14. Receive assistance in making better decisions about your issues.
15. Benefit from a viewpoint other than your own.
16. Make action plans to bring your goals to reality.
17. Learn a wide variety of mental skills.
18. See charts and illustrations to help you understand key concepts.
19. Learn self-regulation skills for emotional, mental and physical control.
20. Ask any questions you may have about your sports experiences.
21. Discuss sensitive issues in a safe, confidential environment.
22. Gain the perspective from someone who has been a successful athlete, coach and mental trainer.
23. Set up weekly and monthly structures that help you stay accountable to your goals and dreams.
24. Replace negative thought patterns with positive ones.
25. Help you realize higher levels of confidence.
26. Set goals that help you learn faster, perform better and enjoy yourself more.
27. Familiarize yourself with the zone and be able to enter it more often.
28. Navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of change.
29. Experience high quality communication skills.
30. Rehearse mental skills.
31. Have a dialogue that helps you think and solve your own problems.
32. Hear advice, suggestions and counsel.
33. Receive ongoing support and feedback.
Now that you know more about how a sports psychology consultant works, you may want to seek more information and perspective from these helpful links in sports psychology:
Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP)http://appliedsportpsych.org/
The International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP)http://www.issponline.org/
The European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC)http://www.fepsac.com/
The North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activityhttp://www.naspspa.org/
International Society for Sports Psychiatry (ISSP)http://www.theissp.com/
Directory of Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychologyhttp://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1885693109/atheltinsightheo
If you are an athlete, coach or parent wishing to improve any of the areas discussed in this article you need a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities with an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. Here is a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot. This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MAto improve your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your mental game.
If you are a coach who desires training and certification as a mental game coach, you may be interested in the training program offered by the International Mental Game Coaching Association. The IMGCA certifies qualified individuals at four levels as Certified Mental Game Practitioners.
Sports psychology consultants can help coaches, athletes or parents in improving learning, training and performance. In the competitive arena of sports, you want every advantage you can get. The sports psychology consultant can be one of your most trusted advisors, and a key member of your success team.
Copyright © 2010 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps sports teams and individuals achieve more success. He is also the Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published author of books and articles, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time college athletics.
Sports Psychology Coaching website.