Athletes invest a lot of time, energy and money to be in peak physical condition. They have fitness coaches to help them train properly and get them performing their best. They also have guidance from a dietitian on not only what to eat but when to eat, allowing athletes to push themselves harder during practice and competition. And, let’s not forget about the important role athletic trainers play in keeping athletes safe.
While these physical aspects for athletes are important, so too is the mental component. Since mental health is such an important topic, we wanted to highlight what exactly mental performance coaches do.
What Is A Mental Performance Coach?
A mental performance coach (also referred to as a certified mental performance consultant) helps athletes develop the proper mental skills to achieve optimal performance - on and off the field. Mental performance coaches work with athletes one-on-one or in groups to break through mental roadblocks and pinpoint their mental strengths to improve their performance.
They work with all types of individuals, with varying abilities, such as:
- Recreational athletes
- Athletes with disabilities
- Injured athletes
- Youth sport, high school, college, and elite-level athletes
- Non-sport performers (dancers, musicians)
- High-risk occupations (military, firefighters, police)
Professionals are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and have obtained a master’s or doctoral degree in sport science, psychology or another related field while meeting specific course requirements. They have also received extensive mentoring experience.
How Do Mental Performance Coaches Help Athletes?
A mental performance coach can help with many aspects of an athlete’s performance, including:
- Improving concentration and focus
- Setting goals, such as short-term goals, and developing a course of action
- Enhancing confidence and one’s belief in their ability to succeed
- Improving communication skills
- Introducing and incorporating relaxation skills (e.g. deep breathing, yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation)
- Managing pressure
Athletes may not always feel motivated to exercise and practice. This is something which can occur more during off-seasons and particularly during a pandemic. Athletes may even feel unmotivated if they had a losing season. This is where a mental performance coach comes in! A mental performance coach can help motivate athletes to train regularly and attend all of their practices. They can even get athletes to help each other by building camaraderie and accountability.
Speaking of team building, mental performance coaches also assist athletic teams in the following ways:
- Team building - being a team means putting the team’s goals over personal goals and working cohesively.
- Effective communication - the ability to effectively communicate means athletes can resolve conflicts maturely.
- Team goal setting - being on the same page as a team is extremely important, as is having specific goals and a plan to achieve them.
- Healthy competition - when athletes help raise the performance level of their teammates, it gives the team a competitive advantage.
- Mental toughness - training the mind to be resilient during difficult times helps athletes overcome adversity.
It’s clear that mental performance coaches play a significant role in athletes’ lives, from improving their concentration and focus, to helping them manage pressure. To support them, mental performance coaches can rely on technology, like an Athlete Electronic Health Record (EHR) to keep track of athlete health and performance. Using an Athlete EHR, like Presagia Sports, allows mental performance coaches to be in the loop about all injuries and illnesses which may impact an athlete’s mental health, empowering them to make informed decisions to help athletes with their performance and work through mental roadblocks!