Sport Psychology vs. Mental Training

What is Sport Psychology & Mental Skills Training?
Wade Wilson, PhD – Wilson & Associates Mental Performance Consulting

As a discipline, sport psychology looks at ways in which the mind can influence athletic performance. Mental-training techniques can be used to improve performance and overall quality of life, not only in athletics but also in most contexts in which we compete and perform.

Applied sport psychology (i.e., Mental Skills Training) is not limited to professional and elite amateur athletes. In fact, as sport psychology becomes more mainstream, we are seeing its applications at every level of sport from grassroots through to professional, as well as in other performance domains – business, law enforcement, military.

So, what is sport psychology and mental skills training? Sport psychology studies human thought, emotion, and behaviour. In the simplest form, sport psychology is the application of mainstream psychological principles in the sport setting.

Mental skills training on the other hand, is the systematic training of mental performance techniques with the purpose of enhancing sport performance. Sport psychology is the discipline of study where research is performed, while Mental Skills Training is the actual work that is carried out in the field. The research is very important to the application of mental skills.

Sport Psychology vs. Mental Skills Training
 Sport Psychology (discipline of study)
 the study of human thought, emotion, & behaviour
 Application of mainstream psychological principles in the sport setting
 Mental Skills Training (application in the field)
 Systematic training of mental performance techniques with the purpose of enhancing sport performance

Goals of Mental Skills Training
The goal of mental skills training, in my opinion, is to be able to develop a plan and the necessary tools that continuously put us in a position where we have the greatest probability for success. This is achieved through an open mind, a willingness to accept ourselves, a willingness to learn, the ability to assume responsibility and accountability for our actions and thoughts, and most importantly to believe mental skills can help improve our performance. If we do not believe they will help, then they won’t, no matter how sophisticated and efficient our mental skills training plans are.
 1. To help athletes improve athletic performance
 2. Increase consistency
 3. Boost Confidence
 4. Maintain Enjoyment of Competing

Mental Training Essentials
 Willingness to adopt a positive attitude – be ready and willing to change and take risks
 Athletes and performers must assume and accept responsibility for their performances
 We must believe in ourselves – how we perceive ourselves is exactly how we will behave
 Our ability to educate and train ourselves – mental training is an educational process that helps us approach competition in our life with a more positive and passionate frame of mind

The Mind: A Performer’s Greatest Weapon
 The best tool that any athlete has is their mind
 The brain is at the core of all successful sports performance
 Your mind can make or break you
 By understanding the power of you mind and being able to use it to your advantage, you can improve your performance
 The best tool that any athlete has in the mind.
 It is the core of all successful sport performances.
 Talent and physical skill plays an important role, but not many people understand the importance of the mind and how to use it.
 By understanding the power of your mind, Sport Psychology can help you to:
 Manage performance anxiety
 Use Imagery to improve performance
 Increase and maintain confidence
 Relax under pressure
 Mange energy levels
 Develop and properly use Focus to your advantage

Mental skills training has the ability to help us achieve our performance goals. However, developing and maintaining our preferred mental state can be a difficult task. Some people have the ability to do this on their own, however, most people need some assistance in learning mental skills, and applying them to their performance routines and training.