I recently had a discussion with a sports parent who was interested in our mental training program for his son. He asked a question, one that we get frequently from parents and athletes, about our “success rate” with our mental game coaching or sport psychology coaching programs for athletes.
I explained to this parent that we don’t measure a “success rate” in the traditional way he’s thinking about. Why? We don’t attempt to “fix” athletes with our coaching. We instead educate athletes by teaching them mental training using sports psychology strategies. In addition, each athlete we work with learns at a different pace. We really don’t “fix” problems in sports psychology. Although we do help athletes improve an area of their mental game that can lead to greater success and enjoyment in sports.
A success rate implies that we solve an athlete’s problem and we’re done coaching. I explained this concept to the parent. It’s not like were in the business of fixing cars where your car is either fixed or isn’t fixed when it leaves the shop–and there’s a clear success rate. In our work, it’s more about how much athletes can improve and how quickly they can improve. And then are they even done working on the mental game? I can argue that you are never done refining or fine-tuning your mental game.
Sports psychology coaching is like other forms of performance enhancing specialties, such as functional training, fitness training, and nutritional training for athletes. These forms of training are ongoing. You continue to improve your fitness daily and refine or improve your physical skills. You want to look at mental skills as the same process. Sports psychology coaching helps athletes consistently improve their mental skills over months, not days or one-shot sessions.
In my work as a sports psychology coach, athletes’ lives are constantly changing and evolving, such as then you go from high school sports to collegiate athletics or when juniors raise to the next age group of competition. For this reason, athletes are faced with new types of challenges and new forms of adversity during their career. As a sports psychology coach, I help athletes develop basic mental skills for success in sports. But I also help athletes overcome specific challenges in their lives, such as when they feel pressure to get a collegiate scholarship or when they lose confidence from rising to a higher level of competition.
What do we tell parents and athletes interested in our sports psychology coaching programs? We educate athlete and help them improve confidence, focus, composure, and pregame mental preparation. I can say that our success rate is very high on these attributes of athletic success. But these are very subjective measures. Can we improve your race times, lap times, points per game scored, speed in the 400 or lower your handicap? Yes, but we don’t use this as our measure of success or success rate. Our goal is to improve performance by removing the mental barriers to success and instilling a confident mindset—over the long-term.
Here’s an example of a golfer who was thrilled with our sports psychology coaching with him. For us, this is a good example of success, even though this student did not mention number of wins or a lower handicap:
“I have spent hundreds to dollars on clubs, putters, etc. always looking for answers. But I knew this was not going to work because I have some internal issues I had to deal with on the golf course. Working with Dr. Cohn on mental game by far is the best investment I have made. I have some great tools to work on to see my mental game improve. I feel better now than I have ever have on the golf course and I thank you so much for helping me with the positive mental direction.”
You can read more sports psychology success stories at Peak Performance Sports.
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