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Mental Training In Sports

Mental Training is an Essential Tool in Sports
      
How often have you witnessed a talented athlete who has demonstrated their ability in previous competitions suddenly under perform? What is the cause? Obviously there is the desire or they would not endure long and strenuous training.  Is it the stress? Why would appear to unexpectedly "choke" on this occasion?

      Since the physical training in sports provide excellent conditioning of athletes, we must assume there are other possibilities:

External influences -
  • Fatigue from traveling several time zones to arrive at competition site
  • Changes in climate, such as tempature, humidity, altitude
  • Changes in competition practice/performance times, reversing normal training schedule from early morning to late evening or vice versa
  • Change in available water and familiar food
  • Pressure to incease technical difficulty
  • Emotional conflict with parents, coaches, or significant other
  • Financial problems
  • Equipment problems or failure
Internal influences -
  • Low self esteem
  • Low confidence
  • Stage fright/nerves
  • Low and high blood sugar levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Head aches
  • Sleep aphelia
  • Excessive body weight
  • Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia, binge eating
  • Loss of hearing
  • Vision problems
  • Concussions
  • Stress fractures
Mental Preparedness 
      Mental training is an essential part of preparing an athlete for the demanding schedule of practices and competition. 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.

       Some athletes have difficulty learning the correct technical skills, focusing on training strategies, or developing mental toughness.

       There are tools that can strengthen coaches' instructional skills, thus accelerating an athletes' learning curves.

       Not all coaches have acquired the necessary training to use psychological skills in their physical sports training programs. Athletes can harness their mental skills that are primary forces that drive physical performance. They need 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.
  • Navy SEAL Mental Training For SportsThey are good athletes. But they are the toughest people mentally you will ever find who overcome incredible physical pain during their training.
  • 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:

Physical and Mental Training Considerations
Learning & Training Evaluation Theory
Exercises to Develop Coordination
Training Approaches
Training Strategies
Daily Training Tasks
Principle Of Variation
Training Transfer
Off-Season Conditioning
Peak Performance Training
Endurance Training
Building Endurance
PDF  Weight-training Exercises
PDF  Strength Training Exercises
PDF  Power Skating Classes
PDF  Core Body Training
PDF  Endurance Training Plan

   
All materials are copy protected. 
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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