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Psychological Skills Training. What is it?. Consistent practice of mental skills to enhance performance. How is it used?. Takes ideas from mainstream psychology and applies them to performance Creates an edge for those that practice them. Consider.

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what is it
What is it?

Consistent practice of mental skills to enhance performance.

how is it used
How is it used?

Takes ideas from mainstream psychology and applies them to performance

Creates an edge for those that practice them.

  • How much time do you spend physically training for competition?
  • How much time do you spend mentally training for competition?
elite athletes have
Elite Athletes have:

Higher confidence

Greater self-regulation of arousal

Better communication

More positive thoughts and images

More determination or commitment

mental toughness
Mental Toughness

Mental resilience

Ability to focus, cope with pressure, rebound from failure, and persist in the face of adversity

4 c s of mental toughness
4 C’s of Mental Toughness

Control- feel like you exert an influence on the situation

Commitment-take an active role

Challenge- change as an opportunity to grow, not a threat

Confidence- sense of self-belief

confidence building
Confidence Building
  • Creating a strong sense of belief in self
attention or concentration
Attention or Concentration
  • Focusing on the most important things
goal setting commitment
Goal-Setting (Commitment)
  • Working toward what you really want
imagery and positive self talk
Imagery and Positive Self-Talk
  • Think good thoughts, do good things
arousal regulation
Arousal Regulation
  • Not being overly excited or unexcited
definition of self confidence
Definition of Self-Confidence

Belief that you can successfully perform a desired behavior

confidence is mainly the result of
Confidence is mainly the result of
  • Expectations
    • Of self
    • From others
  • Remember the self-fulfilling prophecy?
  • Efficacy- the perceived ability to perform a task
    • Comes mostly through achievements
tips for building self confidence
Tips for Building Self-Confidence

Act confidently (Fake it until you make it)

Think confidently (Positive self-talk)

Use imagery

Set realistic goals

Train for physical conditions of sport

Mentally prepare

Ensure performance accomplishments using simulation training

simulation training
Simulation Training

A way to practice coping with stressful situations in sport

steps to simulation training
Steps to Simulation Training
  • Determine a specific weakness for your sport
    • Psychological, not physical
    • Example: In dance, losing confidence and falling out of turns.
    • Example: In tennis, losing focus after “giving up” the first point.
  • Come up with a way to practice being in that situation
  • Practice
  • Where you place your attention


Make slower decisions

Do not anticipate future events

Cannot choose what to pay attention to

Unable to search systematically for cues


  • Usually absorbed in the present
  • High degree of control
  • Being aware of internal environment (what you are doing) and external environment (what is happening)
self talk
  • What you say to yourself
  • Can be positive, negative, or instructional
  • Event  Positive Self-Talk  Positive Response
  • Event  Negative Self-Talk  Negative Response
rules for using self talk
Rules for using Self-Talk

Keep phrases short and specific

Use first person and present tense

Construct positive phrases

Say your phrases with meaning and attention

Speak kindly to self

Repeat phrases often

external narrow
  • A person directs attention outward to a specific object in the environment
  • Ex: golfers focusing on lining up a putt
external broad
  • A person is attending to several things in the environment simultaneously
  • Ex: football or hockey
internal narrow
  • Person is focused on thoughts or feelings at a specific moment
  • Ex: baseball player at bat thinking “I can’t miss” while not focusing on the environment
internal broad
  • A person creates plans, strategies, or conceptualizes games
  • Multiple feelings at once
  • Ex: any sport, but takes practice
attention blindness
Attention Blindness
  • Not recognizing something that is right in front of you
  • A mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immerse in a feeling of energized focused
  • Developed by MihalyCsikszentmihalyi (positive psychologist)
  • Other terms include:
    • In the moment
    • In the zone
    • On a roll
    • Wired in
    • In the groove
    • On fire
    • In tune
    • Centered
    • Singularly focused
components of flow
Components of Flow
  • Intense and focused concentration (on the present moment)
  • Merging of action and awareness
  • A loss of reflective self-consciousness
  • A sense of personal control or agency over the situation
  • A distortion of temporal experience
    • Subjective experience of time is altered
  • Activity is intrinsically rewarding
  • All together these comprise flow
  • People can focus on about 126 bits of information per second
    • Most taken up by simple daily tasks
    • Conversation takes 40 bits (1/3 capacity)
  • People generally decide what to focus on
    • In flow, people lose awareness of everything but the task
    • All the bits of information are used up
  • One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals and progress.
    • Adds direction and structure to the task
  • The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback.
    • Allows person to adjust from moment to moment to stay in the flow state
  • One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and his or her perceived skills.
s specific

Need to have a definite end

  • Non-example: Be a better at basketball
  • Example: Have 75% accuracy when shooting free-throws
S- Specific
m measurable

Need to have a way to tell if progress has been made

  • Non-example: I want to be a better student
  • Example: I want to improve my GPA by .2 points
M- Measurable
a action based

Need to use action words to describe

  • Non-example: I want to be happier.
  • Example: I want to think about five more positive things a day.
A- Action-based
r realistic

Need to be able to be reached

  • Non-example: I want to earn $1 million by Christmas
  • Example: I want to earn $500 working a seasonal job by Christmas
R- Realistic
t timely

Goals should be achievable in a reasonable amount of time

  • Non-example: I want to be a millionaire some day.
  • Example: I want to save up enough money for my first year of college by the end of the school year.
T- Timely

A goal based on the end result

  • Example: I want to beat the other team
  • Example: I want to run the race the fastest

A goal based on personal achievement

  • Example: I want to run a personal best time.
  • Example: I want to score a goal.

A goal that helps reach another goal

  • Example: I want to exercise every day this week to condition for soccer.
what is it1
What is it?

Form of simulation

Uses all the senses to create a picture of what you want to happen

uses of imagery
Uses of Imagery

Improves concentration

Enhance motivation

Build confidence

Control emotions

Acquire, practice, and correct sport skills

Acquire and practice strategy

Prepare for competition

Cope with pain and adversity

Solve problems

when to use it
When to use it?

Before and after practice

Before and after competition

During the off-season

During breaks in action

During personal time

When recovering from injury

Basically, all the time

keys to imagery
Keys to Imagery


The image does what you want it to


  • Uses all the senses
drive theory
Drive Theory
  • The more anxious people become, the better they perform
  • Social facilitation is a type of drive theory
  • People do tasks to their ability level when they have an audience
  • Not supported by research
inverted u hypothesis
Inverted-U Hypothesis
  • Medium arousal/anxiety is best
  • If there is little arousal, the person is too relaxed and does not perform the best that he/she can
  • If there is too much arousal, performance is compromised
individual zones of optimal functioning
Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning
  • Everyone has their own best level of arousal/anxiety
  • For some it is low, some it is medium, some it is high
  • Includes other emotions as well: determination, pleasantness, laziness
  • Good support in research literature
multidimensional anxiety theory
Multidimensional Anxiety Theory
  • There is a difference between cognitive anxiety (worry) and somatic anxiety (physical reactions)
  • Cognitive anxiety is negatively related to performance
  • Somatic anxiety is related to performance in an inverted-u pattern
  • Best is little cognitive anxiety and moderate somatic anxiety
catastrophe model
Catastrophe Model
  • Physiological arousal is related to performance in an inverted-u pattern only when the athlete has low cognitive state anxiety
  • Cognitive anxiety above the optimal level compromises performance at a steep declining rate (hence “catastrophe”)
reversal theory
Reversal Theory
  • Performance depends on a person’s interpretation of his or her arousal level
    • Ex. If a person has low anxiety, he might think he is bored and perform poorly. Another person in the same situation might think he is relaxed and perform well.
  • Athletes quickly change their interpretations about their levels of arousal
  • People perform best when they have positive feelings
anxiety direction and intensity view
Anxiety Direction and Intensity View
  • Performance is affected by how people interpret their anxiety symptoms.
  • Trait anxiety and self-esteem influence stress
  • Perception of control also determines whether anxiety is facilitative or debilitative
types of arousal
Types of Arousal
  • Somatic (Physical)
  • Cognitive (Mental)
  • Multimodal (Both)
somatic anxiety reduction
Somatic Anxiety Reduction
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation- feel tension in muscles in order to release it
  • Breath control- when you are calm your breathing is smooth. When you are under pressure, your breathing is irregular
  • Biofeedback- learning how to control your nervous system by receiving physiological feedback not normally available
cognitive anxiety reduction
Cognitive Anxiety Reduction
  • Relaxation Response- quiet the mind, concentrate, reduce muscle tension using meditation
  • Autogenic training- exercises designed to produce warmth and heaviness to produce a relaxed state
multimodal anxiety reduction
Multimodal Anxiety Reduction
  • Cognitive-affective stress management (SMT)
    • Teaches specific integrated coping responses using relaxation and cognitive components to control emotional arousal
  • Stress Inoculation Training (SIT)-
    • Exposed to stress in order to learn how to cope with is (via productive thoughts, mental images, and self-statements)
    • Increase immunity to stress
  • Altered state of consciousness that results in an unusually relaxed state and increased response to suggestions designed to alter perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and actions
coping strategies
Coping Strategies





Wishful thinking


Behavioral withdrawal

  • Information gathering
  • Routines
  • Goal setting
  • Time management skills
  • Problem-soling
  • Increasing effort
  • Self-talk
general coping strategies for sport
General Coping Strategies for Sport
  • Focus on task
  • Self-talk
  • Be positive
  • Social support
  • Mentally prepare
  • Time management
  • Train hard and smart
what about underarousal
What about underarousal?
  • It’s just as bad to have underarousal
  • Goal is optimal level
  • Tips:
    • Increase breathing rate
    • Act energized
    • Use positive statements
    • Listen to music
    • Use energizing imagery
    • Complete a pre-competition workout