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Are you Really Practicing your Psych Skills?

One of the hardest aspects of sport psychology is actually ‘doing it’.. By this I mean, dedicating the time and energy to practicing the psychological skills that you have learnt working with your sport psychologist and coach.

Mental Notes Consulting aims to provide athletes, coaches, and parents the resources to help make the integration of sport psychology skills into training, competition, and everyday lives much easier.  These tools aim to complement your training sessions with your sport psychologist to ensure maximum learning and application.

Psychological skills, similar to physical, technical, or tactical skills, need to be practiced and incorporated into athletic training sessions (Frey, Laguna, et al., 2003).  Given that committed athletes spend up to 99% of their time in practice (McCann, 1995), practice is the opportune time to implement Psychological Skills Training (PST) (Weinberg & Williams, 2010).

Here are some results from the applied psychology research that may shed some light on this topic..
·       Frey, Laguna et al. (2003) examined collegiate athletes’ psychological skills use in practice and competition.  They reported a significantly greater use of psychological skills in competition than in practice.  This result was despite the fact that there were also significantly greater perceptions of success in practice and competition when athletes reported a greater use of psychological skills in both environments.
·       Similarly, Jackson et al. (2001) sampled 231 athletes across diverse sports and they reported an average training time of 11.25 hours per week, of which 8 hours were spent on physical skills, 2.3 hours on technical skills, and 0.9 hours on psychological skills training (PST).
·       Despite players on the Ladies European Tour (N =34) rating a text book swing with the lowest score in terms of skills important for tournament success, and attitude and confidence as the highest on a list of 19 skills, only 9% consistently set themselves goals for their practice sessions (Douglas & Fox, 2002b).
·       However, upon examination of the factors that contributed to the development and maintenance of expert athletic performance, Durand-Bush and Salmela (2002) found that psychological training was taken quite seriously during both the investment years and maintenance years by the 10 Olympic medallists and World Champions in their sample.

What does this research mean to applied sport psychology practice?
1. Athletes of a variety of levels do not practice PST despite believing in its benefit to performance.
2. There is a need to stress the importance of including PST in athletes’ practice schedules.
3. Practice is the time when the athlete learns the necessary physical and technical skills for the sport and must rehearse these skills in order to improve performance in competition.  Therefore, practice is where the learning takes place which then allows for automaticity in competition (Christina & Alpenfels, 2002).

Golf psychologist, Bob Rotella (1995) details several accounts of professional golfers who integrate competition simulation into their practice on the driving range and putting green.  Essentially, competition simulation can involve any aspect of competition such as hitting a difficult shot, performing in front of others, playing with better golfers, running through preround plans, or deliberately choosing to play in wind.
As applied sport psychologists we will have to start to ask you how often you actually practiced the psychological skills taught in the PST program so that we monitor this more closely..

There is no secret.  No magic wand.  No revolutionary cure.  Just dedication to your quality practice of all the skills (i.e., technical, physical, psychological, and tactical) required to match the demands of competition.

Here are some of the tools that we are promoting to assist athletic performance..

Psychophysiological Tools
Mental Notes Consulting has recently started to integrate the use of HeartMath into psychological skills training programs.  There are two main training tools that we are using within our skill training sessions with athletes and encouraging athletes to use independently in their practice and competition schedules: emWave Desktop and emWave Personal Stress Reliever.  Visit our store to read more about each of these tools and improve your ability to manage your psychophysiology to maximize performance:

Golf Tools
It is well known that the Mental Notes team has a wealth of experience working with golfers.  The store currently holds a book called Managing Emotions, which is a great resource to help players understand how their psychophysiology affects their golf.  Visit our store to read more about this book:

Mental Notes has developed a tool called the Process Monitor with aim of achieving more consistent performances on the golf course!  The Process Monitor is a tool that can be implemented into your training and competition to assist with heightened awareness of your process goals and their achievement.  It assists with directing your mind to ‘the game within the game’ by putting some numbers to your ability to adhere to your processes.  The Process Monitor will be loaded on to our store very soon..

Psych Tools
Coming to our store soon are breathing tracks to listen to and guide your relaxation skill training.  These will include diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, and meditation.

Additionally, the Mental Toughness for Sport manuals will be joining our store soon too.  These will complement the successful Mental Toughness for Sport programs that Mental Notes Consulting has been running for the past 4 years.

These tools are superb ways to make sure you are training your mind throughout your sporting career.  And what’s more, you can do it on your own!

If you would like more information about any of the current or upcoming resources please email us at

Andrea Furst PhD | Sport & Exercise Psychologist MAPS


Christina, R. W., & Alpenfels, E. (2002). Why does traditional training fail to optimize playing performance? In E. Thain (Ed.), Science and golf IV: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf (pp. 231-245). London, UK: Taylor & Francis.
Douglas, K., & Fox, K. R. (2002b). Practice for competition in women professional golfers. In E. Thain (Ed.), Science and golf IV: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf (pp. 257-267). London, UK: Taylor & Francis.
Durand-Bush, N., & Salmela, J. H. (2002). The development and maintenance of expert athletic performance: Perception of World and Olympic champions. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14, 154-171.
Frey, M., Laguna, P. L., & Ravizza, K. (2003). Collegiate athletes’ mental skill use and perceptions of success: An exploration of the practice and competition settings. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 15, 115-128.
Hardy, L., Roberts, R., Thomas, P., & Murphy, S. (2010). Test Of Performance Strategies (TOPS): Instrument refinement using confirmatory factor analysis. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11, 27-35.
Jackson, R. C. (2001). The preshot routine: A prerequisite for successful performance? In P. R. Thomas, Optimising performance in golf (pp. 279-288). Brisbane, Australia: Australian Academic Press.
McCann, S. (1995). Overtraining and burnout. In S. M. Murphy (Ed.), Sport psychology interventions (pp. 347-368). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Rotella, R. J.  (1995).  Golf is not a game of perfect.  London, UK: Simon and Schuster.
Weinberg, R. S., & Williams, J. M. (2010). Integrating and implementing a psychological skills training program. In J. M. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (6th ed., pp. 361-391). New York: McGraw Hill.