Sport Psychology: Something for everyone!

Working within Mental Notes Consulting has many benefits!  One of which is the teamwork that exists between the consultants.  As we have a number of consultants working in different areas we are able to meet and discuss various ideas and opinions, and as a result, improve our practice.

We use this process to try and regularly assess how we are performing as sport psychologists with our clients.  More recently, as we were going through a review process, I began to notice the great similarities in the work we do with elite athletes and other groups of people.  There are also some clear differences in the work we do with athletes competing at the highest levels but more often than not the things that benefit these athletes work very well with the rest of us also.

This highlights the idea that the Mental Notes Consulting team has believed in for a long time, which is that there is something in sport psychology that can benefit everyone.  Young or old, serious or social, athlete or non-athlete there is great benefit in the work you can do with a sport psychologist.

The main goal of sport psychology is to enhance enjoyment and performance in sport. From this definition we can see that anyone really could benefit from some involvement with an Mental Notes Consulting sport psychologist.

What can “non-elite” athletes get from working on the mental side of their performance?

To answer this question it is worth looking at some examples of people who don’t necessarily fit the “elite athlete” stereotype.

The developing athlete.  There is an assumption that unless you are already technically and physically elite that there is no point in working with a sport psychologist.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Certainly the amount and type of work we do with younger and developing athletes is different in comparison to the elite and professional athletes but it is just as important.  The great benefit about beginning to work with a sport psychologist earlier is that developing athletes can learn skills and techniques that can be practiced and refined over several years alongside the physical and technical skills of their sport, all of which develop a more complete athlete.  Simple skills like performance routines, emotional control, developing confidence, and learning and improving from all performances are essential for elite competitors and can be learned from a very early age.  The other great benefit of beginning some work on the mental game earlier is that it has flow-on effects into other important areas of life (e.g., focus and concentration at school, self-esteem, and discipline).

The social (not-so-competitive) athlete.  In my experience anyone who comes to see one of our consultants is still competitive (even if only with themselves) despite the fact they might not be trying to win gold medals.  These athletes, very often, have the same performance concerns as their elite counterparts and have just as great a desire to see improvement and reach goals, the only difference is that they aren’t collecting a pay cheque for it.  These athletes often work just as hard, prepare just as well, and want to perform at their peak just as much as the elite athletes do.  So, they benefit greatly from understanding concepts relating to training the mental component, dealing with pressure, developing resilience, and having hardy self-belief.

The high-achieving non-athlete. This person comes in all shapes and sizes. They are doctors, lawyers, musicians, CEOs, and business owners.  This is where we start to see how the developments in the field of sport psychology have had flow on effects into other arenas.  We are seeing more and more people who are not involved in sport but want to perform in their arena at their peak seeking help from sport psychologists. These people learn how to get the most out of themselves, know their boundaries but push them daily, how to communicate with and motivate others, and also how to find balance in their lives so that they can achieve their work goals and their life goals simultaneously.
The creators of life change.  An increasing number of people want to create change in some parts of their lives.  There is certainly a balance to be struck between self-acceptance and self-improvement but there is nothing wrong with people wanting to change things about themselves.  Whether those things be to manage anxiety, lose weight, manage stress, improve relationships, or find more meaning in their lives the creators of life change group can benefit from skills including identifying true motivations, managing thought patterns, finding some emotional control, communicating better or building confidence.

The Mental Notes Consulting team’s training and expertise is in sport psychology and we are very upfront about that but through demand, we are open to and excited about building the amount of people coming to us who are not the stereotypical athletes.  What we have been able to do is use the same skill set that we have developed with athletes and found it to be very effective with these other groups.  That’s why we can see that as far as sport psychology goes, there is something in it for everyone.

Mental Notes Consulting consultants work throughout south-east Queensland and can help you to achieve your goals.  Visit our website to find out more about the work we do, our consultants and some of the programs we have on offer.  Also, check us out on Facebook or follow us on twitter.

Matt Ahlberg | Sport & Exercise Psychologist MAPS