Sports Psychology Coaching

How Does Sports Psychology Coaching Work?



What Happens In A Sports Psychology Session?

Sports psychology coaching is a process, a learning experience. It's an opportunity to grow as an athlete and as a person. It's an enlightening growth process, and a very interesting one. You will learn more about yourself as an athlete, and as a person. It's a special time that is all yours, for you to use any way that you see fit. It's your own personal mental training class and consulting session. It's a chance to receive personalized teaching from an expert in the mental game. It's a custom coaching class that focuses on your mind.

Here is what takes place during a sports psychology coaching session. This list demystifies the sports psychology coaching process and gives you confidence that your sports psychologist has your best interests and well-being in mind at all times. In the sports psychology coaching session you will be able to:

  1. Discuss any performance issues that trouble you or concern you.
  2. Talk about any emotional obstacles holding you back.
  3. Explore any technical issues that affect your mental game.
  4. Engage in creative exploration of how to resolve these issues.
  5. Understand the mind-body connection and how to make it work for you.
  6. Gain additional perspectives on your sport experiences and challenges.
  7. Feel deeply listened to and respected as you discuss your problems.
  8. Assess your mental strengths and weaknesses.
  9. Devise a mental training plan to help you overcome mental weaknesses.
  10. Discover learning experiences and exercises to help you become self-aware.
  11. Share the kind of things and ask the kind of questions you would normally not be able to share with your friends, parents or coaches.
  12. Grow from being assigned mental training homework.
  13. Be assessed on a variety of mental measures to increase your awareness.
  14. Receive assistance in making better decisions about your issues.
  15. Benefit from a viewpoint other than your own.
  16. Make action plans to bring your goals to reality.
  17. Learn a wide variety of mental skills.
  18. See charts and illustrations to help you understand key concepts.
  19. Learn self-regulation skills for emotional, mental and physical control.
  20. Ask any questions you may have about your sports experiences.
  21. Discuss sensitive issues in a safe, confidential environment.
  22. Gain the perspective from someone who has been a successful athlete, coach and mental trainer.
  23. Set up weekly and monthly structures that help you stay accountable to your goals and dreams.
  24. Replace negative thought patterns with positive ones.
  25. Help you realize higher levels of confidence.
  26. Set goals that help you learn faster, perform better and enjoy yourself more.
  27. Familiarize yourself with the zone and be able to enter it more often.
  28. Navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of change.
  29. Experience high quality communication skills.
  30. Rehearse mental skills.
  31. Have a dialogue that helps you think and solve your own problems.
  32. Hear advice, suggestions and counsel.
  33. Receive ongoing support and feedback.

Is Sports Psychology Coaching The Same As Therapy?

Even though some of the same techniques and approaches may be shared in both disciplines, the focus, purpose and outcomes diverge sharply. Sports psychology coaching is mental training, an educational process. We teach mind skills for learning and performance under pressure.

For a more detailed look at this issue, please see two of our articles:

(1) Separating fact from fiction, this article answers critical questions about the field:
Myths About Sports Psychology: 32 Misconceptions About The Mental Game Of Sports Explained.

(2) This article discusses the intricacies of what happens in sports psychology sessions:
Why Are Some Athletes Reluctant To Use Sports Psychologists? Discover Who Uses Sports Psychologists, What Happens In A Sport Psychology Session, And The Many Benefits Of Sports Psychology

How Do You Structure Sessions Differently For Younger Children?

I have been teaching sports to kids as young as 6 for 25 years, and working with kids as young as 9 on mental training. I teach the same concepts and mental tools, and simplify them, take more time and use stories and metaphors they find interesting and instructive.

How Often Do You Coach Each Client?

Most clients take a coaching session once a week over a number of weeks. Athletes with competitions coming up often want a mental training intensive consisting of multiple sessions in a week. Many clients then settle into a maintenance mental training program of 1-2 times a month to keep them on track.

What Do You Require Of The Client Between Coaching Sessions?

There is homework we suggest they complete, and how much they do is based on their motivation, their goals, and how fast they want to progress. We want them to reflect on the coaching session, to make notes about their reactions to our advice and strategies, and how they performed in their sport. We ask that they maintain a mental training journal and do mental game techniques we present and then return with reports about how they worked. In short, we want them to be engaged in the coaching process as a co-partner.

Can This Type Of Mental Training Help Lesser-Skilled Athletes?

I wish sports instructors would teach mental training concepts and tools along with their instruction to beginners, but this is typically not done. Anyone can benefit from mental training, but typically we get calls from more serious athletes at various age levels. These athletes could be serious in little league, youth sports or higher venues, and do not need to be championship caliber. Normally, it does not make sense to start an athlete on mental training unless they see the benefits.

How Is What You Do Different From Yoga And Relaxation Training?

Relaxation training, mental and muscular, are both part of our training. I use elements of both of these disciplines. These are important parts of a mental training program, but they address only one segment of an overall training plan.

How Is What You Do Different From NLP And Hypnosis Training?

I utilize both Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and hypnosis techniques in the coaching. While some sports psychology practitioners use these modalities exclusively, we use a wide range of approaches to help you improve. Learn more about Sports Hypnosis and NLP.

How Do You Know When A Client Is Progressing At The Proper Pace?

They tell me they are improving. They tell me they are more at peace with themselves, that they see progress, that people around them see progress, and that their understanding of this progress comes from a deeper level. Of course, we can see their progress by them winning more often, and other objective measures like times and scores improving.

Can You Help With A Situation Where Our Child Has An Out-Of-Control Coach Who Is Very Negative?

Parents often call me for this very issue. Their child is being subjected to the favoritism, emotional abuse, lack of playing time, and other negativity of a coach who is not very approachable or open to change. In these cases I work with you to devise strategies for your child to manage such coaches. I do this without ever speaking to the coach. In many cases your child and you can make changes the coach is not aware of, but that still have a positive impact.

How Does The Process Of Coaching Work When We Can't Meet Face To Face?

Almost 50% of our sports psychology coaching is by phone. If you are nearby, you can come to our offices in Silicon Valley. Sometimes clients fly in to meet with us. Coaching that is accomplished by email, phone, audiotape, videotape and other means is termed virtual coaching. This can be very effective, and in many cases, almost preferable to in-person coaching, as it is very convenient for our clients. I coach some people whom I have never met, and whom I probably never will meet, just because we are separated by thousands of miles of distance. If this is your situation, virtual coaching is perfect.

How Does Confidentiality Operate In Sports Psychology Coaching And How Important It Is To Successful Outcomes?

Every form of helping other people is centered around trust. That trust is built upon the bedrock of confidentiality. This is true whether the relationship is educational, therapeutic or one in business. When I coach you, we will share material that is private and I respect that privacy. I create a safe place for you to explore your issues and to tell your story so you can go places you have never gone before. That's how you increase self-awareness, and that leads to learning and growth. So, yes, confidentiality is absolutely the most important aspect to successful coaching.

Six Major Ways We Help You Be A Better, More Successful Athlete

  1. Improve your self-confidence in your sport.
  2. Teach you new and better mental approaches.
  3. Coach you to improve your sports performances under pressure.
  4. Provide you with new levels of awareness about yourself as an athlete.
  5. Counsel you in the "big-picture view" of your sports career.
  6. Help you transfer the many mental lessons from sport to the rest of your life.

Our Sports Psychology Coaching Has 18 Key Helpful Features To Shorten Your Learning Curve And Boost Your Confidence As An Athlete

  1. Assessment of your current mental game skills in your sport.
  2. Review of and suggestions for upcoming competitions.
  3. A deep and extensive level of analysis and feedback about your athletic performances.
  4. Proprietary, detailed checklists that help you become aware of yourself as an athlete.
  5. Homework worksheets and exercises that bring the concepts Bill teaches to life.
  6. Confidential conversations where you can share your most private concerns and issues with a professional coach.
  7. Customized coaching sessions to your exact needs.
  8. Time to ask the questions you always wanted answers to, and receive them right away.
  9. Experience relief at having a professional coach help you co-create solutions to your most pressing and difficult problems.
  10. Tell your story, be listened to 100%, and feel understood at a profoundly deep level.
  11. Coach you for your upcoming sports situations.
  12. Help you overcome performance issues such as fears and low confidence.
  13. Show-You-How-To-Practice mental sessions, like visualization and stress management.
  14. Advice on sharpening your mental readiness for your competitions
  15. Dress rehearsals with videotape.
  16. Review of your past sports performances.
  17. Create custom mental routines.
  18. Post-performance reviews analysis and follow-up.

Your Next Steps In Mental Mastery

In essence, sports psychology coaching is a valuable, specialized educational experience, one that will benefit you far beyond your sport experiences. It's a lifetime investment in yourself as a person. The insights you learn and the skills you build will carry over to many important varied applications for school, business and life itself. Sports psychologists exist for one reason only -- to help you maximize your sport experiences. They want you to succeed. They want to help you grow as an athlete and as a person. I hope this article has helped put aside some of your fears and concerns about sports psychology and deepened your understanding of this fascinating field. I encourage you to avail yourself of the wisdom and expertise of sports psychologists so you can reach more of your sporting and human potential.

To learn more about how sport psychology coaching can help you become a better, more confident athlete, see our main Sports Psychology Coaching page.


Bill Cole, MS, MA, is an internationally recognized expert on peak performance, coaching and the mental game. He has coached at the highest levels of the Olympics, major-league pro sports and big-time college athletics. His extensive background includes a Bachelor of Science (with honors) in Sport Psychology, a Master of Arts in counseling psychology, and post-graduate training in various fields. He brings an outstanding, eclectic and well-rounded academic, clinical, research, educational and multidisciplinary approach to his work. Learn more about Bill Cole, The Mental Game Coach™.

How does sports psychology coaching work?

How does sports psychology coaching work?


Bill Cole, MS, MA
Sports Psychology Coaching

19925 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 100, Cupertino, CA 95014-2358
Voice 408-725-7191   •   Toll Free 888-445-0291   •   Fax 408-440-2339
Bill@SportsPsychologyCoaching.com   •   www.SportsPsychologyCoaching.com

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