Sports Psychology Coaching

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What's a Mental Game Coach?

There Are Many Types of Mind Coaches, Mental Trainers,
Psychology Consultants and Therapists

How Can You Choose the Right Mind Practitioner?
Read This Article and Find Out


Bill Cole, MS, MA
The Mental Game Coach™
Silicon Valley, California


Tiger Woods has one. So does Andre Agassi. Almost every college pro team, major league pro sports team and Olympic team has one. Virtually every pro golfer and pro tennis player has one.

What do they have?

A Mental Game Coach.

These top sports stars are smart. They're good already. Even great. Some are all-stars and superstars. Why do "they" have a mind coach? They want to maintain their excellence. And, they want to get better. They want every edge they can get, because they know their opponents have this mental advantage.

I coach top corporate America executives, and you can turn on the TV and see the top college sports stars and major-league pro sports stars I coach. This article will help you learn what a Mental Game Coach does for these peak performers, and about how you can choose the right mind game coach.

Did you know there are at least 25 types of mind practitioners? The term mind practitioner itself is a very broad one. Maybe you're looking for a mental health professional. Perhaps someone to help you in business. Maybe you want to reduce stress, stop a bad habit and overcome a fear or phobia. Maybe you need to perform better on the presentation platform or in the competitive sports arena and avoid the dreaded choke. Maybe you want to learn how to get in the zone more often, on command. Whatever your reason for seeking a coach, they all, to one degree or another, help you train your brain. Find your mind. Get your motivation in motion. The mental game encompasses every mind issue you can imagine in business, sports and life. A mental game coach can help you in these arenas:

  • Awareness
  • Learning
  • Development
  • Change
  • Habit Formation
  • Performance
  • Coaching, Mentoring, Managing and Leading

Mental Game Coaches are particularly skilled at helping you with these critical performance issues:

  • Anxiety
  • Choking
  • Focus
  • Sales Rejection Issues
  • Telephone Call Reluctance
  • Goal-Setting and Achievement
  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination
  • Mental Preparation
  • Mental Practice
  • Self-Discipline
  • Getting In The Zone
  • Slumps and Confidence
  • Hecklers And Psych-Outs
  • Performing Under Pressure
  • The Fear Of Success
  • The Fear Of Failure
  • The Imposter Syndrome

The best way to use this article is to determine what reasons you have for hiring a coach and then to match those reasons to the capabilities of the specific type of coach you find here.

I've placed each type of coach into six distinct coach classification areas to help you understand what they do. At the end of this article I also tell you about the five major mind techniques mind coaches, therapists and practitioners apply across a wide array of issues that people bring to them. There are, of course, many more methods and approaches than these five, but I'm sure this group will be familiar to you.

Here we go.

To go to each coaching section now, click on the link below.

Five Business, Sport And Personal Mental Coaches
Four Sport Mental Coaches
Seven Medical And Mental Health Professionals
Two Stress Practitioners
Four Specialty Coaches
Three Mind-Body Discipline Practitioners

FIVE BUSINESS, SPORT AND PERSONAL MENTAL COACHES

This class of coach specifically helps people develop and perform in business, sports and in life. They also assist coaches and parents in the mental improvement and performance arena.

Mental Game Coach

The broadest and deepest level of training, background and experience of coaches in this class. Assists people in learning, training, coaching, preparing, performing and any other discipline related to peak performance. This person probably has degrees or certifications but is not licensed. Has a strong mental game background.

Peak Performance Coach

May or may not be a coach who helps people in sport, but may be a generalist performance enhancement practitioner. This person may or may not have any degrees or certifications and is not licensed. May have a mental game background.

Organizational Psychologist

This person has a Ph.D. in some form of psychology, usually organizational or industrial psychology. They assist corporations or individuals in business in developing professionally. Sometimes licensed or certified. Usually has no mental game background.

Autogenic Training Coach

A highly-specialized coach who uses a specific integrated and holistic mental training system to provide performance enhancement services to people, usually in sport, but also in the theater, music and other performance arenas. This person may or may not have any degrees or certifications and is not licensed. Usually has a strong mental game background.

Mental Toughness Training Coach

A very specialized, narrow sub-specialty of mental game coaching. This is aimed at making the individual more resistant to stress and hardship. This person may or may not have any degrees or certifications and is not licensed. May have a strong mental game background, but may be quite narrow in scope.

FOUR SPORT MENTAL COACHES

This class of coach specifically assists athletes, coaches and parents in the mental improvement and performance arena.

Sport Psychologist

This is a controversial title, but in some states to legally be able to call oneself a psychologist, the person must be licensed to practice psychotherapy. In the academic and research worlds, people who teach sport psychology often are called sport psychologists, but this is not a legal term. Interestingly, a Ph.D. teaching psychology, who does not have a state psychologist license is NOT a psychologist. Has a strong mental game background.

Sport Psychology Consultant

A person with various degrees ranging from bachelors to doctoral who provides sport psychology services. Is not licensed but may be certified. Has a strong mental game background. Mental Training Coach A coach who specifically trains athletes in using their mental powers to learn better, practice better and perform better. This person may or may not have any degrees or certifications and is not licensed. This person has a very strong mental game background.

Mental Training Coach

A coach who specifically trains athletes in using their mental powers to learn better, practice better and perform better. This person may or may not have any degrees or certifications and is not licensed. This person has a very strong mental game background.

Performance Enhancement Consultant

These practitioners provide specific services in stress reduction and performance improvement skills to anyone who performs, such as musicians, actors, speakers, athletes or students. This person may or may not have any degrees or certifications and is not licensed. They often have a strong mental game background.

SEVEN MEDICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

This class of "coach" specifically assists people who have serious to moderate medical, health, stress or psychological issues. They also may help people develop and perform in business and in life.

Psychiatrist

Often called a "shrink", this is a person with an MD, who is a trained physician who specialized in mental disorders. With some psychologist exceptions, this is the only person here who is considered a "medical professional" and who is licensed to dispense medicine. Rarely has a mental game background.

Psychologist

This is a Ph.D. level psychotherapist, who is state-licensed and who provides therapy services to families, couples and individuals for a wide range of maladies, both mental and emotional. Rarely has a mental game background.

Psychotherapist

This could be either a masters-level licensed therapist, or a doctoral-level licensed therapist, who works on a wide range of family, marital and personal psychotherapeutic issues. Rarely has a mental game background.

Counselor

In most states this is a trained, licensed professional counselor with a masters degree who works on family, marital and personal psychotherapy issues. Rarely has a mental game background.

Professional Counselor

The state-licensed designation for a masters-level counselor. Rarely has a mental game background.

MFT

Marriage, Family Therapist. The designated license for professional counselors in many states. Rarely has a mental game background.

LCSW

This is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Very similar in training and work scope to an MFT, but may interact more with families rather than individuals, and be more involved at the social services level. Licensed and often certified. Rarely has a mental game background.

TWO STRESS PRACTITIONERS

This class of practitioner specifically assists people who have stress, anxiety and fear issues. They may also occasionally help people perform in business and in life situations.

Stress Management Consultant

The main thrust of this type of practitioner is to reduce and manage stress. Their scope is very limited and focused, yet valuable, and they sometimes assist people in performance enhancement. Not licensed, sometimes certified. Sometimes has a limited mental game background.

Biofeedback Consultant

A highly specialized sub-specialty stress management consultant who uses psychophysiological technology to assist people in reducing their stress. Usually licensed and certified, often a psychotherapist. Rarely has a mental game background.

FOUR SPECIALTY COACHES

This class of coach assists people in various specialized niches. They also may help people develop and perform in business and in life.

Sports Coach

Everyone is familiar with this type of coach. The more expert the coach is in a sport, often the better they are able to assist you. General sports coaches can only give general help in a specific sport. Sometimes has a mental game background.

Executive Coach

This is a coach delivering coaching services to supervisors, managers and executives. They work on career, workplace, leadership, team-building and professional development issues. Rarely has a mental game background.

Personal Coach

This is a coach delivering coaching services to people who want to work on improving their lives, relationships, finances, health, fitness and general quality of life. Rarely has a mental game background.

Specialty Coach

This is a coach delivering coaching services to people in a specific niche such as sales, speaking, customer service, coaching to coaches. etc. Rarely has a mental game background.

THREE MIND-BODY DISCIPLINE PRACTITIONERS

This class of practitioner specifically assists people who have stress, anxiety, habit and fear issues. They may also occasionally help people perform in business and in life situations.

Body Worker

A very focused group of specialties that reduces stress by means of mind-body techniques, including breathing, mental exercises, massage, stretching and other modalities. May or may not have degrees. Almost always licensed and certified. Rarely has a mental game background.

Yoga Teacher

A specialized mind-body discipline coming out of Indian philosophies that seeks to relax, stretch, make aware and focus a person. May or may not have degrees. Never licensed, but sometimes certified. Rarely has a mental game background.

Hypnotherapist

This could either be a state-certified or licensed person (not a psychotherapist, unless they also have that training and licensure) who provides hypnotherapy services. Some psychotherapists and counselors receive this extra training and utilize it as an approach in their practices. Does not require a degree, either high school or college, unless the training is a higher-order medical-clinical type. Their main focus is in the reduction of bad habits (smoking and eating), relaxation training and fear and phobia reduction. Sometimes has a mental game background, but this is usually limited.

FIVE SPECIFIC MIND TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES COACHES USE

The public is usually aware of these five major mind coaching tools. These techniques are not tied to any one particular school of coaching or therapy. Practitioners from virtually every discipline utilize these.

Positive Thinking

Perhaps the most common mind tool of all, positive thinking involves being aware of thoughts and speech and making it as positive as possible.

Mental Practice

Mental practice is drilling or rehearsing your mind for an upcoming performance or shaping your mind to enhance a particular mental or personal quality. This is not a school of thought or training system, but only one technique any coach or practitioner might use.

Visualization

This is merely one single mental tool that many coaches use, not a discipline or coaching system. It involves using the "movies of your mind" to mentally practice, rehearse contingency plans, plan for goals, relax, energize, prepare or change mental, emotional and physical states.

Self-Hypnosis

Once learned from a book, audio tapes, mind practitioner or a hypnotherapist, this mind-body skill may be utilized for a wide variety of mental training purposes. Uses include relaxation, visualization, habit control, fear reduction and performance enhancement.

Cognitive Restructuring

A more sophisticated mind tool, this requires assistance from someone knowledgeable in its application. It involves changing thoughts and patterns of thinking so attitudes and mind sets are re-formed into desirable and intentional mental structures.

MAKE YOUR MIND COACH SELECTION CAREFULLY AND WISELY

When selecting your mind coach, take your time. One size does not fit all. Each coach has different limitations and plusses, and not all coach background and training is equal. Not all coaches trained the same have the same abilities and capabilities. As an MD friend is fond of telling people who ask, "Even the last person to graduate in the medical school class is called "Doctor".

Some coach training is narrow and deep and some coach training is broad and general. The field is a wide one, so make sure you select someone who has had successful experience in helping people with your specific issues, desires and goals. Choose a practitioner on background, reputation and results, not merely degrees. Chemistry and trust are the two final vital issues on which to measure your potential coach.

Good luck in your coach-hunting!


To learn about sports psychology coaching services offered by Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach™, visit www.SportsPsychologyCoaching.com.

2004 words

Copyright © 2005-2008 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.


Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps sports teams and individuals achieve more success. He is also the Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published author of books and articles, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time college athletics.


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What is a Mental Game Coach?


Bill Cole, MS, MA
Sports Psychology Coaching

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