Enhancing Performance – Psychological Skills Training and It's Importance

     There exists such a thing as Psychological Skill Training (PST) that is used to enhance performance. PST refers to systematic and consistent practice of mental skills. PST is important because psychological factors are the primary key in day-to-day fluctuations in performance (i.e., having a good day or an off day). However, they are often overlooked because of lack of knowledge about them, misunderstandings about how they are learned, and a lack of time. Athletes and coaches find the most useful PST topics to be:

* Arousal Regulation
* Imagery and mental preparation * Increased motivation and commitment * Goal setting * Confidence * Attention and concentration * Self-talk

* Mental Plans

     With respect to the effectiveness of PST – Psychological Skills Training enhances performance. PST intervention must be tailored to each individual, be practiced over time and use different techniques (i.e., combining imagery, self talk and goal setting). However, not much research has been done on PST, and therefore more studies must be done to reach more conclusive ideas of its effectiveness.

There are three phases to PST:

1) Educational Phase: This phase consists of the psychological skills being learned and practiced. It takes time to develop and refine these skills over time.
2) Acquisition Phase: This phase is used to focus on strategies and techniques for learning the different psychological skills. This aspect of the training program needs to be tailored to meet the individuals needs.
3) Practice Phase: This phase consists of the transferring of psychological skill from practice and simulated situations to actual competitions. The focus should be on making the psychological skills automatic.

     PST should be conducted by a sport psychologist or coach and should be introduced in the off season. The mental training should last 10-15 minutes per day, 3-5 days per week. This mental training should then continue through the athletes season.
There are some steps to designing a PST program:

* Discuss your approach with the athlete * Assess the athletes mental skills * Determine which psychological skills to include in the training * Design a PST schedule

* Evaluate the program

An effective sport psychology Consultant possesses the following qualities:

* Are accessible and establish a rapport with the athletes * Are flexible and knowledgeable enough to meet the needs of the athletes * Are likeable and have concrete and practical information to offer * Conducted several follow-up sessions with athletes throughout the season

* Are trustworthy and fit in with the team

Some common problems that occur in implementing a PST program include:

* Lack of time * Lack of conviction * Lack of sport knowledge * Lack of follow-up

Related Links

Sports Psychology
Strategies & Success
Arousal, Stress & Anxiety
Intrinsic Motivation
Team Dynamics
Aspects of PST