Endurance athletes of all ages and experience levels can benefit from hiring a sport psychologist or a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC). You are probably asking yourself, What are sports psychologists or CMPCs and why are they important to me? Utilizing the assistance of a sport psychologist or CMPC is an advantage because it helps an athlete enhance self-awareness. The athlete will also become more self-regulated throughout performance. It is natural for endurance athletes to experience daily fluctuations in performance, which connects to psychological factors. Being able to respond to these fluctuations and implement effective strategies is essential for an athlete’s performance.
What Are Sport Psychologists or CMPCs?
Endurance athletes need to understand that there are professionals that can assist them in enhancing their psychological skills. According to the APA Division 47, Society for Sport, Exercise & Performance Psychology, a sport psychologist is a licensed psychologist who has experience working in sport settings and has advanced knowledge in the sport environment. Certified Mental Performance Consultants (CMPCs) have met the rigorous requirements of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology to assist athletes, coaches, military personnel, and performing artists in performance settings.
Why Might Psychological Skills Be Neglected?
For several reasons, athletes may neglect psychological skills in a training program. Some of these reasons can include:
- Misunderstandings the athlete has regarding psychological skills training
- Believing that the athlete won’t be successful in implementing the skills appropriately
- Having a lack of knowledge about psychological skill training
- The athlete believes that they do not have enough time to include these skill sets into their training program
Busting Some Myths About Sport Psychology
Myths associated with sport psychology could hold an endurance athlete back from connecting with a sport psychologist or CMPC.
Examples of myths include:
- Psychological skills training is only for “problem” athletes
- Psychological skills training is only appropriate for “elite” athletes
- Incorporating psychological skills training will make people think there’s something wrong with me as an athlete
- Using psychological skills training means I’m not mentally tough
- Psychological skills training should only be used for quick fixes instead of long-term
Benefits Of Working With A Sport Psychologist Or CMPC
It is essential to identify the benefits of working with a sport psychologist or CMPC. Some benefits include, but are not limited to the following:
- Improved confidence
- Enhanced motivation
- Established strong goals
- Mental recovery from an injury
- Pre-competition anxiety management
- Implementation of mindful strategies
The most important thing is to understand that this process is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, all psychological skills training programs should be based on the individual needs of each endurance athlete! As an athlete takes their training to the next level, it is important to consider including training for mental well-being!
Elements Of Psychological Skills Training
One of the most critical aspects of psychological skills training is that it should be implemented proactively. For example, when working with a sport psychologist or CMPCs, three phases should be addressed. The first phase is the educational phase, where an athlete will become more aware of how psychological skills impact performance. The second phase is the acquisition phase. During this phase, the athlete will be focusing on implementing and practicing their mental skills. The final phase is the practice phase. This is where the athlete will continue to perfect their mental skills by including them in actual competitions and races.
Programs should be based on the individual needs of the endurance athlete. In addition, effective programs should be developed over time and connected to the periodization of the athlete’s training schedule. Another essential element is that programs should be multimodal. This means that there is the incorporation of a variety of different psychological skills for the athlete to implement.
Locating A Professional
If an endurance athlete is seeking services, it is critical that the professional is qualified and has the appropriate credentials. To locate a CMPC in a specific location, an endurance athlete can use the Association for Applied Sports Psychology site.
The overall goal of working with a sport psychologist or CMPCs is the self-regulation of an athlete! An endurance athlete who can monitor their emotional state and implement specific psychological skills reaps performance benefits!