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A Mental Skills Training Programme/Psychological Skills Training (PST) To Increase A Young Elite Footballers Confidence

Devised and supported a mental skills training programme based on sound sport psychology theory and principles.

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A Mental Skills Training Programme/Psychological Skills Training (PST) To Increase A Young Elite Footballers Confidence

  1. 1. I declare that this is my own work and should this declaration be found to be untrue I acknowledge that I may be guilty of committing an academic offence. BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching Essay SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology Carl Page (1008889) University of Bedfordshire Mr. D Golding & Mr. S Kozub
  2. 2. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology This essay involves devising and supporting a Psychological Skills Training (PST) programme for a footballer who aspires to become an elite performer wanting to break into the first team squad of Arsenal Football Club. However it is known whenever a competition is near he becomes very nervous and becomes stressed about the match. Consequently he performs worse than what he can usually play. Outline of the Psychological Skills Training Programme The Psychological Skills Training programme shall follow the process of Balaguer, (1994) this is seen in Figure 1 below. Furthermore the programme aims to develop and to help the footballer with the outcome of increasing their psychological skills needed for peak performance. PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAINING Phase1 Psychological Assessment and Goal Setting Phase 2 Psychological Skills training Phase 3 Pre-competition Phase 4 Competition Phase 5 Post-competition Introduction Figure 1. Psychological Training Process (Balaguer, 1994) The plan includes the identification of the important mental skills as well as containing appropriate strategies for their development. These will help the performer when implemented within the chosen context. Consequently these interventions have the outcome of lowering the risks for the footballer becoming nervous and stressed during competition. Moreover helping the footballer to sustain, look after, or re- Carl Page (1008889) Page 2 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  3. 3. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology establish mental control this also allows for increased optimal performance and peak functioning as possible. Nevertheless Farlex (2013) reports a psychological consultant is part of a support team which is made up of numerous professionals who are involved in encouraging and sustaining of the multifaceted process involved to create sporting excellence with those who are elite or aspire to be elite. Hence in agreement Miller-Keane and O'Toole (2006) suggested the psychological consultant should aid in achieving the goals with the specific mental skills training of the footballer. Whilst Thomas (1990) cited in Hardy et al. (1996) established a seven phase performance enhancement process which is able to be used in applied sport psychology. Plus he believes the psychological consultants ought to take into account the considerations when implementing a programme as shown in figure 2. This shows there is a difference between athletes being elite and novices as well as the processes involved for various sports. Nonetheless there is continued debate of this process and other methods for Psychological Skills Training programmes being used to enhance performance. Figure 2. A model of a seven phase performance enhancement process (Thomas (1990) cited in Hardy et al. (1996) Carl Page (1008889) Page 3 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  4. 4. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology Phase 1 – Psychological Assessment and Goal Setting Gould and Eklund (2007) recommended the first phase for a psychological consultant is to carry out initial assessments through a one-to-one meeting with the performer. As opposed to Gledhill, et al. (2007) who suggests psychological skills training involves the performer, the coaches as well as all the support staff. Subsequently a psychological consultant is able to form an in-depth personal profile of the specific performer concerned. Plus the programme is something which is able to be implemented into a range of environments. Although Hardy et al. (1996) instructs the practice comprises of a psychological skills assessment and evaluation and this should be done either formally or informally. Also the psychological consultant includes exercises aimed at developing, implementing and evaluating the psychological skills needed for elite performance as through the performers own athlete education. This is supported by Weinberg, and Gould, (2010) believing either meetings formally or informally with the performer and the coach allows for better communication between all parties involved to lower the risks of confrontations. Therefore, it would seem that the provision of a meeting for performer support is linked to the performer’s achievement. Whilst Gledhill, et al. (2007) evidences a formal meeting is known as a structured scheduled time concerning the performer and the psychologist. Plus a prior arrangement e.g. a chat in the changing room or even in the team bus to a game is recognised as an informal meeting. Furthermore Thelwell (2008) informs a psychologist has to be mindful of the performer’s needs whenever forming Psychological Skills Training. Therefore the specific performer and their PST programme are more individualised followed by meetings which aid to developing a needs analysis to set desired outcomes or objectives. This is supported by Weinberg, and Gould, (2010) advises when making mental training programmes they ought to meet the needs of an individual as opposed to a group. Particularly Gould and Eklund (2007) evidenced a major importance is to take into account a psychologist will work with a large variety of performers, whereby the individualistic psychological skills training programmes aid optimising performance Carl Page (1008889) Page 4 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  5. 5. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology and aid preparing for elite competition. For instance whenever offering common material to a team or group, it should be specific during the developmental stage of personalising Psychological Skills Training programmes for an individual. Crespo and Reid (2009) established through the general assessment of the sport and the performer(s) can be done through numerous ways like direct observation, interviews or questionnaires. It has been recognised that with the use of the Sport Competition Anxiety Test to it is possible to measure the tendencies of an individual who becomes anxious during competition (Cashmore, 2008). Subsequently the psychologist’s role is to set goals with appropriate strategies which match the performer’s development needs. Hence collaborates with the footballer to meet the outcomes for using of Psychological Skills Training programme. Phase 2 – Psychological Skills Training Shaw et al. (2005) discovered that normally with poor performances this is due to the lack of physiological execution development which usually results in the implementation of a psychological skills training (PST) or mental skills training (MST) programme. Specifically this helps to aid performers reaching their potential through numerous methods as known as interventions. Similarly Burton and Raedeke (2008) revealed the aims for these programmes is to aid performers to regularly perform nearer to their potential along with prevention of below par performances. Consequently devising mental plans and supporting the mental skills training programmes will allow the footballer to increase and continue their focus needed for peak performance. Hodge et al. (1996) explains a psychological skills training skill is a ‘competency, capability or ability level’, while a psychological skills training method is used to develop a skill is a ‘procedure, technique or drill’. This is supported by Brookfield (2009) suggesting the skills and methods used as seen in figure 3 below. Whilst the setting of goals; a process goal specific to the individual, an outcome goal such as winning friendlies and achievement of setting up so many goals known as a performance goal. As a result the programme will comprise of assisting the footballer Carl Page (1008889) Page 5 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  6. 6. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology to become skilled through developing and mastering the self-regulatory skills required to be successful in their sport. Performance Acommplishments Goal setting Relaxtion/Energisi ng Self-talk/Feedback Imagergy/Observat ion Vicarious Experience Emotional Arousal Verbal Persausion Figure 3. Building self-confidence, PST skills and the PST methods employed (Brookfield, 2009). Phase 3 – Pre-competition As a psychological consultant I have to take into account there is opposing psychological demands from sports as these vary from physical and technical stresses too. Hence Thelwell (2008) insists that when the physical and technical skills are being increased this should be combined with developing their psychological skills as it will benefit the performer massively. Additionally P2P Publishing Ltd. (2013) proposed that there are two types of interventions e.g. associative and analytic. Firstly, associative interventions these include the process of using the right-hand side of the brain for techniques like visualisations and relaxation. Secondly analytic interventions which develop an individual are goal-setting and self-talk because they will use the left-hand side of the brain. Collectively this would suggest pre-competition routines and procedures develop both sides of the brain, which centers on their concentration, managing of the competitive anxiety and other concerns of interest to the footballer. Carl Page (1008889) Page 6 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  7. 7. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology Phase 4 – Competition It has been proven by national level gymnasts who had been given psychological skills training (PST) programme were capable of utilising the psychological skills e.g. imagery which is done in a comparable way used by those gymnasts who are at international level (Horn 2008 cited in Calmels et al. (2003). Also shown in table one below are the external influences the footballer may face and the arousal and anxiety control techniques which can be used to lower the risks of maintaining their peak performance. External Influences Arousal And Anxiety Control Techniques Home advantage Mental rehearsal Crowd effect Use of visualisation Social facilitation Imagery Importance of competition Self-talk Evaluation apprehension Pre-game routines Strategies for coping Relaxation techniques Environmental factors Cognitive and somatic methods comprise of performance monitor review and control of aggression. Table 1: Performers external influences and the techniques applied to control them. Contrary to this Hacker, (2004) reports performers develop and frequently make use of the psychological-skills learnt during their training in their sport. Furthermore they will be able to become aware of the mechanisms and inventions as they become part of their routine. This then allows for further positives effects of numerous procedures which are applied instantaneously. Whilst Eubank & Collins (2000) discovered that the performers who regard their anxiety as facilitative are further expected to utilise emotional-focused and problem-focused coping strategies. However if the performer’s anxieties viewed as debilitative are shown to narrow usage of several coping strategies. Based on this the performers who identify their anxiety being facilitative will normally be able to perform at a higher level since they can manage more efficiently with their anxiety. Although Weinberg and Gould (2010) believes that if the psychological skills are included into the performers daily training plan this will then be learnt continuously over a long period of time. The performers sporting excellence is increased through the training of psychological skills being instructionally based. This is recognised by P2P Publishing Ltd. (2013) discovered that the coping strategies which are frequently Carl Page (1008889) Page 7 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  8. 8. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology used by mentally tough performers such as mental imagery, effort expenditure, thought control, relaxation and logical analysis help to sustain peak performance as shown in table 2. Based on this there is a link to those performers who are psychologically stronger than their competitors. Coping Strategy What The Footballer Can Do Mental imagery Firstly utilising imagery even as training and when competing as practice of imaging can be done away from the competition environment. Therefore involves vivid visualising of a successful performance of a task such as a long pass in football by forming images for mentality. Effort expenditure Also whenever either in a game or a practice environment should always give full commitment from the start to the end. Thought control Plus do not beat self-down with negative thoughts instead replace with positives for instance if typically say ‘That was a really bad shot’ change with ‘I am going to make the next shot’. Relaxation Additionally relaxing at appropriate times during the competition, such as when you are not involved in the field of play. Furthermore with stretching the muscles this avoids any undesirable tension and through breathing techniques such as inhaling for a count of five seconds then exhaling at the count of ten seconds. Logical analysis However preparing before competing involves analysing the demands of the competition as how you learnt from past experience of the opposition weaknesses and own performances and this is so that any potential problems are solved. Table 2. Adapted coping strategies specifically for footballers which are used by the mentally tough performers (P2P Publishing Ltd, 2013) Phase 5 – Post-competition Thelwell (2008) declares psychological skills need to be evaluated and developed over time. Also an individual’s mind and body are related in a complex way. Since the way the performer physically feels influences how they will feel emotionally too (P2P Publishing Ltd. 2013). Therefore by focusing for five minutes on previous experiences which were good, how it felt and imagine of doing the movements Carl Page (1008889) Page 8 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  9. 9. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology visually. This additionally increases their psychological performances, by means of physical interventions such as relaxation and breathing training. In addition the footballer will need to regularly self-reflect and evaluate how the game went to continually assess the progress of the mental skills training programme. Also, this involves feedback to the psychological consultant, who is able to identify if the programme needs changing to reach the aims and objectives agreed in the first meeting. Issues with Psychological Skills Training Programmes Whereas Weinberg, and Gould, (2010) exposes that psychological skills training is typically ignored where a performer has poor knowledge. There is supposed to be insufficient time, or an individual’s view is that they are born with the psychological skills needed and cannot be trained. Furthermore Mc Graw-Hill Higher Education (2010) evidences the issues of having to get players who are unwilling to be part of a PST programme. Plus achieving their trust and getting them to practice the skills systemically. Based on this there is a need to change people’s perception of applied sport psychology. A PST programme is not only used when things are going wrong, but can be used in many occasions with the support of coaches and performers. Similarly Rushall (2004) established before trying mental skills training three characteristics should exist in a performer. The performer must want to do the drills set and finish each one completely as well as wanting to improve their performance. Plus Sport New Zealand (2013) implies lacking of knowledge leads to poor development and integration into the performers existing training regime. Also the belief inherited qualities that cannot be changed and/or can be developed during practice of sport. Moreover through maintaining the communication during the footballer’s season this will help with the successful application of their Psychological Skills Training programme. Therefore they need to have the complete assistance from the coaches along with their support staff of the organisation. Carl Page (1008889) Page 9 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  10. 10. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology Nonetheless Birrer and Morgan (2010) reported currently there is a need for further investigations on PST and the interventions through centering on the link for high-intensity sports. Equally Beauchamp et al. (2012) discovered there is very little research involving the Psychological Skills Training interventions with elite athletes. Therefore, it would seem that future studies need to examine the use of PST in a range of sports and settings. The researcher will need to use a range of methods to achieve this. Behncke (2004) evidences the perception that athletes may believe their performance has not improved however it is known from the training routines that the athletes can be too task focused to see any of these improvements. Additionally United States Tennis Association (2013) testifies that because of the variables that effect on-court performances this can have an effect when establishing the mental skills evaluation and analysis of a player. Consequently these issues arise when a sports psychological consultant develops a PST programme. Specifically Vealey (2007) believes previously there were insufficient examinations into the implementing of psychological skills with disabled athletes. Although Hackfort and Schlattmann (2012) revealed the guidance of mental skills training the usefulness is altered massively if the social-cultural setting is not dealt with correctly. Also recognised are the issues for instance where an athlete’s perceptions of the assessments effectiveness are dependent on the various assessment methodologies used and professionally set boundaries. This would imply a mental skill training programme is correspondingly beneficial for athletes who are physically disabled, blind or visually impaired. The sports psychological consultant needs to follow the correct ethical and practical procedures in all cases. Weinberg and Gould, (2010) found the implementation of a Psychological Skills Training programme is best done during a performer's off-season. This is supported by Mc Graw-Hill Higher Education (2010) stating it’s less advantageous when a PST is done after the performers competitive season has already begun. Collectively this would suggest it is best to apply continual PST from the start and for as long as the athlete competes. Carl Page (1008889) Page 10 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  11. 11. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology Conclusion Therefore this essay was specifically focused on the skills to improve self-confidence and anxiety whereby tailored to the footballers needs through devising and supporting the Psychological Skills Training programme. Also the interventions of goal setting, imagery and relaxation strategies were used to optimise their performance. Hence utilising these philosophies and appropriate strategies of psychology skills interventions and key psychological mechanisms; when applied in training or competition can be effective to the performer. Consequently psychological skills training programmes have been examined by numerous researchers which the majority believed to have a positive effect on sporting performances. Also how a psychological skills training affects sporting performance, by the way of a clear outline of successful knowledge and maintained with coherence of the psychological skill's training programme. Although highlighting the important psychological interventions which underpin sport performance has been developed. Thus it is important that as a sport psychological consultant you need to be aware of how psychology is applied in a range of physical activities/sports. Additionally when developing and supporting of a Psychological Skills Training Programme to be used and to suit the individual. References Beauchamp, M.K., Harvey, R.H. and Beauchamp, P.H. (2012) ‘An Integrated Biofeedback and Psychological Skills Training Program for Canada's Olympic Short- Track Speedskating Team’ Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 6(1) pp.67-84 Ebscohost EJS [Online]. Available at: http://0- 45da-9da7-4cf7bdc41730%40sessionmgr114&vid=19&hid=105 (Accessed on: 04/01/2013). Behncke, L. (2004) ‘Mental Skills Training For Sports: A Brief Review’ The Online Journal of Sport Psychology, 6(1) pp.1-19 Athletic Insight [Online]. Available at: (Accessed on: 29/03/2013). Birrer, D. and Morgan, G. (2010) ‘Psychological skills training as a way to enhance an athlete's performance in high-intensity sports’ Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Carl Page (1008889) Page 11 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
  12. 12. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology Science in Sports Supplement, 20(Suppl. 2), pp.78–87Ebscohost EJS [Online]. Available at: http://0- 45da-9da7-4cf7bdc41730%40sessionmgr114&vid=19&hid=105 (Accessed on: 04/01/2013). Boyle, I.T. (2002) The Impact Of Adventure-Based Training On Team Cohesion And Psychological Skills Development In Elite Sporting Teams. Google Books [Online]. Available at: ills+training+program&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WKhVUfbnKIKx0QW-ooCwAg& ved=0CE4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=psychological%20skills%20training% 20program&f=false (Accessed on: 23/12/2012) Brookfield, D. (2009) Psychological Skills Training. Available at: (Accessed on: 23/12/2012). Burton, D. and Raedeke, T.D. (2008) Sport Psychology for Coaches. Google Books [Online]. Available at: al+skills+training+program&source=bl&ots=7MnCv22wRY&sig=M1kgNw48kvtKY6XI QeUJVYPSjog&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3zjXUK-pFoTC0QWdzYDYDA& ved=0CIkBEOgBMA44Cg#v=onepage&q=mental%20skills% 20training%20program&f=false (Accessed on: 23/12/2012) Cashmore, E. (2008) Sport and Exercise Psychology: The Key Concepts: The Key Concepts. Google Books [Online]. Available at: pg=PA350&dq=psychological+skills+training+program&hl=en&sa=X& ei=wLJVUcmREuKc0AWOvoCoAQ&ved=0CEIQ6AEwAjgU#v=onepage&q=psycholo gical%20skills%20training%20program&f=false (Accessed on: 27/02/2013) Crespo, M. and Reid, M. (2009) Phases and Characteristics of a Psychological Training Programme. Available at: (Accessed on: 27/02/2013). Carl Page (1008889) Page 12 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching
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  15. 15. SPO010-3 Applied Sport Psychology Rushall, B.S. (2004) Frequently Asked Questions. Available at: (Accessed on: 29/03/2013). Shaw, D., Gorely, T. and Corban, R. (2005) BIOS Instant Notes in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Google Books [Online]. Available at: ations+of+Sport+and+Exercise+Psychology&hl=en&sa=X&ei=CuBVUYikNqa10QX8 o4CoCw&ved=0CFcQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=PST&f=false (Accessed on: 29/02/2013) Sport New Zealand (2013) Module Four: Mental Skills‘ Training. Available at: module4.pdf (Accessed on: 23/12/2012). Thelwell, R. (2008) ‘Applied sport psychology: Enhancing performance using psychological skills training’, in Lane, AM. (ed.) (2008) Sport and Exercise Psychology: Topics in Applied Psychology. MyAthens (ebrary) [Online]. Available at: ogical%20skills%20training(Accessed on: 27/02/2013) United States Tennis Association (2013) Sports Psychology: An Integrated Approach to Mental Skills Training. Available at: Game/Sport- Science/117721_Sports_Psychology_An_Integrated_Approach_to_Mental_Skills_Tr aining/ (Accessed on: 23/12/2012). Vealey, R. (2007) ‘Mental skills training in sport’, in Tenenbaum, G. & Eklund, R. (eds.) (2007) Handbook of Sport Psychology. Google Books [Online]. Available at: skills+training+program&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WKhVUfbnKIKx0QW-ooCwAg& ved=0CFkQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=psychological%20skills%20training% 20program&f=false (Accessed on: 27/02/2013) Weinberg, R.S. and Gould, D. (2010) Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 5th edn. Leeds: Human Kinetics. Carl Page (1008889) Page 15 BSc (Hons) Sports Science and Coaching