Read to learn a little more about mental performance consulting and what mental skills training entails. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we haven't addressed any of your questions here.
Please note, we respond to emails M-F between 8am-8pm EST.
Some exceptions may apply.
1 | What is mental skills training (MST)?
MST is the systematic training of psychological techniques with the purpose of enhancing sport performance that are evidence-based. Mental Performance Consultants (MPC) undergo training at the Master's or Doctorate level, supervision, and adhere to ethics and guidelines of a governing body.
MST is not life coaching, advice-giving, or motivational speaking. It is strategic training rooted in research and best practices that runs more similar to strength and conditioning but for the brain.
Common topics include, but are not limited to:
Motivation, Goal Setting, and Commitment
Attitude, Resiliency, and Mindset
Performance Anxiety and Confidence, Perfectionism, and Burnout
Emotional Regulation Techniques such as mindfulness and breath work, imagery and visualization, self-talk, and pre-performance routines
Attentional Focus, Concentration, and Energy Management
Leadership & Team Dynamics
Injury & Back to Play
2 | Is it therapy?
Big no! Mental skills training is not therapy and mental performance consultants aren’t necessarily therapists or psychologists even though aspects of the education involve training in applying psychological techniques. Mental performance consultants cannot diagnose or treat mental health. Here are the goals of, and differences between, different job titles that are commonly mixed up but should not be thought as interchangeable:
Mental Performance Consultant | Goal: Athletic performance enhancement through psychological skills training (MST). Best for athletes with low-high performance functioning as a result of coping strategies related to the mental game development and not mental health.
Clinical Sport Psychologist | Goal: Prioritizes counseling and mental healthcare as a means to optimize athletic performance. Best for athletes with low-high performance functioning as a result of disruption related to mental health.
Traditional Psychologist | Goal: Trained to assess and diagnose challenges in thinking, feeling, behavior, and to help individuals overcome challenges related to mental health and/or developmental conditions. This isn't to say the traditional route isn't helpful, athletes may benefit from seeing someone outside the context of sport, but often these professionals don't have the extra training in performance enhancement or a specific background in understanding the athletic population. Best for athletes who want extra support around their mental health.
Licensed Therapist | Goal: Does not provide diagnoses. Trained to provide a specific type of counseling and focus on interpersonal, social, and psychological obstacles which have come as a result of mental health challenges. Similar to the traditional psychologist, unless they have a master's in counseling with a specialization in sport psychology, they likely don't have the training or background in performance enhancement or with athletic populations. Best for athletes who want extra support around their mental health.
Please see the Applied Association of Sport Psychology 'How to Identify the Right Provider', the ethics code, or visit our blog on 'How to Find a Therapist'. Should a clinical concern arise individuals are referred to the appropriate provider.
3 | Why use a Mental Performance Consultant (MPC)? There’s nothing wrong with me/ my athlete(s).
Although it's not uncommon for someone to start considering their mental game after some performance challenges, mental skills training can be year round, no different than your physical training to help maintain positive behaviors already working for you or your athlete. Think about it, athletes work with their sports coach most of the year - while some of that practice is dedicated to improving weaknesses, you also don’t stop working on a technical skill or stop running a tactical strategy just because you’ve done it successfully before.
The brain functions like a muscle and mental skills training follows a similar pattern. It too experiences growth and strengthening through consistency and repetition. Mental skills training is for any athlete, coach, or team who wants to walk away from their performance feeling good about what they've done.
4 | How fast will I/ my athlete(s) improve?
You don't lift weights once and expect to see results the next day. Your brain is no different. Some skills may click faster for you/ your athlete and feel immediate while others will take time to craft. Because the mental game gains aren’t as readily observable as physical gains, check in with yourself or ask your athlete their perspective on if they notice a difference in how they feel when they practice and compete. Here are signs MST is starting to click:
Increase in optimism and mental flexibility.
Ability to pivot around obstacles and find solutions.
Increase in sport satisfaction and enjoyment.
Progression towards performance goals.
Better management of pressure and stress.
Attention and energy is centered on the things you can control.
Actions in line with values and goals vs. reactions
Athletes who stick with MST longer progress to higher levels than athletes who don't. At the end of the day, mental skills training cannot guarantee better performance because you cannot make up for poor physical conditioning or skill with your mind alone. The work has to be put in both ends and both have to be improving intentionally.
5 | What does a session look like?
This will vary from athlete to athlete and team to team. Similar to strength and conditioning, there are foundational skills to learn and a sequence of training we progress you through. However, MST isn't meant to be one size fits all and we tailor the approach based on your goals and needs.
Furthermore, each MPC is different. We differ from our training and education, personality, and our own background in athletics making every consulting relationship different. Mads is solution-focused and person-centered in her approach with all clients. She applies effective tools from cognitive behavioral therapy, mindful acceptance, and strategies within motivational interviewing when focusing on behavior change. This is called a theoretical orientation and how consultants work with each client. You can expect a goal-directed collaborative approach that emphasizes your strengths to construct solutions through precise questioning and guided conversation while using, when appropriate, strategies to challenge and change, or accept and adjust, behavioral patterns in the context of sport performance. The goal of mental performance consulting is enhancing athletic performance through strategic psychological skills training. We accomplish this by:
1. Raising self-awareness;
2. Increasing knowledge base; and,
3. Application of skill.
It's even possible we might not be the right fit for you! It happens (not commonly as we also pre-screen) and we recommend the following to determine if there's a good fit:
A good MPC...
Works with you to develop goals and a plan
Explains training or strategies and their purpose
Inspires you to feel hopeful, not broken
Seeks supervision/ spends extra time researching/ continues education for their professional development and for your personal needs
Is empathetic and non-judgmental
Helps you progress
Follows ethical guidelines and only consults in the scope of those boundaries
Respects privacy and confidentiality*
And lastly, is someone you feel a connection with and trust. You feel heard, understood, and that you can be yourself
*Limits to confidentiality exist within the law in regards to safety.
6 | Where are you located?
I am currently located in the Durham Region of Ontario, Canada. I work with athletes, coaches and teams all over North America through telecommunication means. I will travel for in-person group work local to Durham Region and the GTA but will resume farther travel when it's safe to do so post Covid-19. Individual sessions are currently conducted over Zoom.