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1

Psychological Skills Training (PST)

Systematic and consistent practice of mental or psychological skills for the purpose of enhancing performance, increasing enjoyment, or achieving greater self-satisfaction

2

Common techniques used for PST

Behavior modification
Cognitive therapy
Goal setting
Rational emotive therapy
Attentional control
Relaxation techniques
Imagery
Systematic desensitization

3

Avksenty Puni (1950s)

leader in Soviet sport psychology

4

Earliest mental training model

Arousal regulation
Confidence
Attentional and distraction control
Goal setting

5

Mental toughness

ability to focus, rebound from failure, cope with pressure, persist in the face of adversity, and maintain resilience

Often equated with hardiness, resilience, grit

6

4 C’s of mental toughness

Control
Commitment
Challenge
Confidence

7

3 Phases of PST Programs

Education Phase
Acquisition Phase
Practice Phase

8

Education Phase

Demonstrate the importance of psychological skills
-What percent of your sport is mental?
-How much do you train it?
Relate mental skills to performance
-Remember a time when you beat yourself…
Increase awareness
-Traffic light analogy

9

Acquisition Phase

Strategies and techniques for utilizing psychological skills are taught
Formal team meetings
Informal check-ins around practice
One-on-one individualized meetings
Reinforcement by coaching staff

10

Practice Phase

Automate skills through focused practice
Teach integration of psychological skills into performance setting
Practice skills in simulated competitive environments

11

Self-regulation

ability to monitor and manage one’s own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors

Long-term objective of effective PST programs

12

5-stage model (Kirschenbaum, 1984)

Stage 1 - Problem Identification
Stage 2 - Commitment
Stage 3 - Execution
Stage 4 - Environmental Management
Stage 5 - Generalization

13

Effective Consultants

Accessible
Establish rapport; likeable
Flexible
Knowledgeable; provide practical information
Hold frequent meetings
Trustworthy

14

Ineffective Consultants

Poor interpersonal skills
Lack sensitivity to athlete needs
Lack knowledge of sport or psychology
Inappropriate application of skills at competitions
Rely on “canned” approach

15

What is Excellence?

Surveys of Olympians who perform up to their potential indicate elite athletes:

Set daily training goals
Replicated competitive environment
Used imagery
Prepare plans prior to competition
Strategize ways to handle disruptions
Evaluate performance after event

16

Purpose of the Routine

Remove negative thoughts and distractions
Optimal
- Arousal level
- Focus
- Confidence
Direct emotions, thoughts, and behavior toward the task at hand
Evaluate performance after

17

Building a Routine

Leading up to the performance
- Positive thoughts
- Spend some time thinking about performance
- Relaxation and imagery

When you get there
- Symbolically leave other roles behind
- Familiarize yourself with the venue
- Focal point
- What is your mission or daily goal?

Stretching
- Check in with your body
- Slow things down with stretching and breathing
- Chatting and having fun to keep loose
- Check in mentally

Warm up and pre game
- Be mentally prepared for this!
- Do warm up the way you want to play
- “Prepare to hit, don’t hit to prepare.”

Just before
- How do you walk?
- What are your thoughts?
- What do you look at?
- Breathe

18

Post-Performance Routine

- Just as important as pre-performance routine
- How do you debrief the game or practice?
- What did you learn?
- What will you do next time?
- How and when do you let it go?