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:
- Discuss any performance issues that trouble you or concern
- Talk about any emotional obstacles holding you back.
- Explore any technical issues that affect your mental game.
- Engage in creative exploration of how to resolve these issues.
- Understand the mind-body connection and how to make it work
- Gain additional perspectives on your sport experiences and
- Feel deeply listened to and respected as you discuss your problems.
- Assess your mental strengths and weaknesses.
- Devise a mental training plan to help you overcome mental weaknesses.
- Discover learning experiences and exercises to help you become
- Share the kind of things and ask the kind of questions you
would normally not be able to share with your friends, parents
- Grow from being assigned mental training homework.
- Be assessed on a variety of mental measures to increase your
- Receive assistance in making better decisions about your issues.
- Benefit from a viewpoint other than your own.
- Make action plans to bring your goals to reality.
- Learn a wide variety of mental skills.
- See charts and illustrations to help you understand key concepts.
- Learn self-regulation skills for emotional, mental and physical
- Ask any questions you may have about your sports experiences.
- Discuss sensitive issues in a safe, confidential environment.
- Gain the perspective from someone who has been a successful
athlete, coach and mental trainer.
- Set up weekly and monthly structures that help you stay accountable
to your goals and dreams.
- Replace negative thought patterns with positive ones.
- Help you realize higher levels of confidence.
- Set goals that help you learn faster, perform better and enjoy
- Familiarize yourself with the zone and be able to enter it
- Navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of change.
- Experience high quality communication skills.
- Rehearse mental skills.
- Have a dialogue that helps you think and solve your own problems.
- Hear advice, suggestions and counsel.
- 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
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:
Sports Psychology: 32 Misconceptions About The Mental Game Of Sports
(2) This article discusses the intricacies of what happens in sports
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
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
How Do You Know When A Client Is Progressing At The Proper
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
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
- Improve your self-confidence in your sport.
- Teach you new and better mental approaches.
- Coach you to improve your sports performances under pressure.
- Provide you with new levels of awareness about yourself as
- Counsel you in the "big-picture view" of your sports career.
- 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
- Assessment of your current mental game skills in your
- Review of and suggestions for upcoming competitions.
- A deep and extensive level of analysis and feedback about
your athletic performances.
- Proprietary, detailed checklists that help you become
aware of yourself as an athlete.
- Homework worksheets and exercises that bring the concepts
Bill teaches to life.
- Confidential conversations where you can share your most
private concerns and issues with a professional coach.
- Customized coaching sessions to your exact needs.
- Time to ask the questions you always wanted answers to,
and receive them right away.
- Experience relief at having a professional coach help
you co-create solutions to your most pressing and difficult
- Tell your story, be listened to 100%, and feel understood
at a profoundly deep level.
- Coach you for your upcoming sports situations.
- Help you overcome performance issues such as fears and
- Show-You-How-To-Practice mental sessions, like visualization
and stress management.
- Advice on sharpening your mental readiness for your competitions
- Dress rehearsals with videotape.
- Review of your past sports performances.
- Create custom mental routines.
- 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
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