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Mental Training -
a Tool Widely Used in Sports

Mental Training is Essential
       Mental training should be considered as important a part of preparing an athlete for the demanding schedule of practices and competition as physical training. The successful athlete is one who is highly motivated, focused, and self confident. This attitude increases the likelihood they will achieve a peak performance when it counts.
  
       Included in mental training is acquiring the ability to control and focusing our emotions into a positive force in achieving optimum performances under high stress conditions.

       Some athletes have difficulty learning correct technical skills, focusing on training strategies, and/or developing mental resilience to overcome adversities. Sometimes it does not require an error free performance to win. What is important is the desire to finish. No one should feel poorly about any performance, especially when it has been proceeded by season of diligent practice sessions.  Even elite athletes have an off day.

Achieving a winning performance is not a 50 yard dash - it is a marathon.  

       Not all coaches have acquired the necessary training to ethically and effectively use psychological skills in their physical sports training programs. The good news is that there are tools that can strengthen coaches' instructional skills, thus accelerating an athletes' learning curves. Athletes can harness the mental skills that are the primary forces that drives extraordinary physical performance. An athlete needs to learn how to enhance their attentional focus, speed up their response time, and use imagery as a training tool.

No Pain - No Gain!

       Many coaches advocate their athletes play through the pain. They stress Mental toughness as the ability to think and feel strong and determined even in the face of setbacks, pain, failures and self-doubt. They maintain that athletes who deal with these challenges, especially physical pain, the more they can push themselves to train and compete at their high level.

       Sport psychology is the broad field that studies how an individual's mental and emotional state function in sports. Learning motor skills and mastering their control part of the psychology investigation how athletes can learn sport skills more quickly.

       Key principles from sport psychology can be used to accelerate skill learning as well as mental preparation for peak sport performance. Psychological tips and techniques are transferable from other sports to figure skating.
 
       As a parent, would you prefer for your child to perform their best in a sport than academic studies?  Do you stress academic success and preparing for entrance into a college degree program.  Will a scholarship be essential for your child to attend a prestigious university?  Is it possible to finance both the child's education and fund a training program in figure skating at an elite level?

       As a parent, does your child:
  • Get nervous testing?
  • Become nervous or anxious when he or she competes?
  • Do great in practice, but has performance anxiety when stressed?
  • Lose interest because of the pressure?
  • Seem to be stuck on a skills learning plateau?
  • Experience a periodic slumps when preparing to test or compete?
  • Suffer from anger episodes when he/she competes?
  • Recover quickly from a setback?
  • Frustrate, you, or your spouse and siblings as a result of their involvement in skating?

Recommended reading:

Sport and Exercise Psychology: Applied Mental Training Skills  June 13, 2007. Review of “Sport/Performance” Psychology.  Mental “Toughness” Definition/ Attributes.  Mental Training Skills Overview.

Mental Training and Sports Performance
Mental training is being increasingly recognized as an integral component of an athlete's training. Relying solely on skills and dedication has become inadequate in the field of competitive sports.

The Inner Champion: A Mental Toughness Training Manual for Figure Skaters  by Choeleen Loundagin. The book's goal is to help skaters prepare psychologically for training and competition.  Choeleen Loundagin is a former competitive figure skater with a Master Degree in Sport Psychology.  The Inner Champion is clearly written, easy to understand, and organized in a "fill-in-the-blank" workbook fashion designed to help the skater work through and keep track of his or her goals and progress.

References:
  • Mental Training For Athletes   Nov. 8, 2011 ... So whether we are just starting out or whether we are seasoned athletes, adding mental training to the game can be a great benefit to overall.
  • Mental Training For Athletic Success Aug. 11, 2011 ... Mental Training For Athletic Success. Physical training is only one facet of the training that successful athletes undergo.
Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

   
Mental Training:

   

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The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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