Psychological Skills Training:

Attention and Concentration Control

(focusing) - commonly used to help individuals identify their current situation and the relevant stimuli within that situation. These skills help them maintain their mental intensity within a situation. Common techniques include: 1) attention control training and 2) techniques to expand awareness (e.g., focused breathing, attending to sounds and bodily sensations).

Communication- used to help improve group cohesion and individual interactions in a sport setting (e.g., athlete-athlete, athlete-coach, coach-parent). Techniques used with this skill include: 1) teaching active listening and communicating skills (reflecting, clarifying, encouraging, paraphrasing), 2) helping individuals create a free and open environment, and 3) assertiveness training.

Energy Management - most commonly used to help individuals who experience arousal at a level that is not effective (i.e., too high or too low) for optimal performance. These techniques have also been used for anxiety, stress, and anger management. Common treatments include: 1) breathing exercises (e.g., diaphragmatic breathing, sighing with exhalation, and rhythmic breathing), 2) progressive relaxation, 3) meditation, 4) visualization, 5) autogenic training, and 6) cognitive techniques (e.g., thought stopping and cognitive restructuring).

Goal Setting - commonly used for enhancing motivation and for focusing attention upon the aspects of performance that are most in need of improvement. The establishment of a goal setting program often includes several common components, including identifying target dates for attaining goals, identifying goal achievement strategies, and providing regular goal evaluation.

Hypnosis – used to help individuals achieve a state of deep relaxation, altered consciousness or focused attention and heightened suggestibility. Participants typically experience changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, or behavior. Used most commonly in the treatment of anxiety, attentional problems, and phobias.

Imagery, Visualization, Mental Practice - using all of the mind’s senses to re-create or create an experience in the mind. Uses include: 1) mental preparation, 2) arousal control, 3) attention, 4) building self-confidence, 5) learning new skills, and 6) injury recovery. Common components include the evaluation of imagery ability, the establishment of the proper physical and mental setting (i.e., relaxed and quiet), and practice creating vivid and controllable images.

Self-talk - what you say or think to yourself. Self-talk patterns are related to how people feel and act. Changing self-talk is commonly used for 1) prompting a specific behavior, 2) improving self-confidence, 3) attention control, 4) motivation, and 5) arousal control. Common components include the identification of negative or irrelevant thoughts, challenging these thoughts, the creation of positive thoughts, and the substitution of positive thoughts for the negative thoughts.

Team Building - the process of helping the members of a group enhance their ability to work cohesively through the improvement of communication, group objectives, trust, and respect. Team building strategies are often used at the beginning of a season to help group members become more familiar and trusting of each other. Common techniques include group introductions of each other, ropes courses, and individual and team goal setting.

Time management/Organization - the ability to plan and maintain one’s regular schedule in a way that avoids confusion, conflict and undue stress. Common techniques in this area include: 1) teaching how to use a planner, 2) learning about the demands of a task, 3) setting legitimate goals for tasks, 4) understanding the demands of one’s life, and 4) developing pre-performance routines.

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