Sport psychology is the scientific behavioral study of people in sports and exercise context, including the practical applications of the knowledge earned from the study. As a consequence, principles and guidelines acquired by sport and exercise psychologists can be used by professional for helping adults and children to participate in and benefit from sport and exercise activities. (Weinbergs, 1999:4)
In this assignment I, as a practicing sports psychologist, will assist a local golfer with efforts to make it as a professional golfer on the Australasian professional tour. To achieve this, Psychological Skills Training is introduced along with other areas that are directly related to the training: Arousal regulation; Imagery (mental preparation); Confidence Building; Increasing motivation and commitment (goal setting); and Attention or concentration skills (self-talk, mental plans).
Coaches and sportspersons all know that physical skills need to be frequently practiced and refined through accurately thousands of repetitions. Since Psychological Skills Training (PST) refers to learning to systematically and consistently practice mental and psychological skills. Therefore, psychological skills, such as maintaining and focusing concentration, regulating arousal levels, enhancing confidence, and maintaining motivation, also need systematic practice (Weinbergs, 1000: 224). Nevertheless, there are at least four reasons that many of coaches and sportspersons abandon working on developing psychological skills in order to improve their performance:
1. Lack of confidence 2. Lack of time 3. Lack of comprehensive sport knowledge 4. Lack of follow-up These factors will need to be taken into consideration when introducing this program to the local golfer, as well as his coach. Though PST programs can be built in many forms depending on participants needs, they generally do have a fix structure that comprises of three distinct phases. Accordingly, the local need to be put into these phrases, which include education, acquisition, and practice. Firstly, in the educational phase the local golfer will quickly recognize how important it is to obtain PST and how the skills affect his performance.
The educational phase may take as little as an hour or as long as several hours from the course. Secondly, the acquisition phase focuses on strategies and techniques for learning the different psychological skills. Both informal and formal meetings are used for helping the local golfer in the learning of these skills. Individual sessions will follow the formal sessions in order to teach the local golfer how to apply positive coping in actual competitive settings. Thirdly, the practice phase contains three primary objectives for the golfer
a. to automate his skills through over learning b. to teach him to systematically integrate psychological skills to his performance (Weinbergs, 1999: 299-321) When designing and implementing a PST program for the local golfer, some key aspects are outlined as follow: 1. Discussing your approach – It is important to explain in simple terms to him exactly what kind of PST services can be provided and that it is an educational approach to mental training. 2. Determining which psychological skills must be included- This decision will be based on the golfer’s availability, interest, and time allowance.
3. Designing a schedule – The initial PST program should probably last 3 to 6 months and start during the preseason or off-season 4. Evaluating the program – This will allow for change and for the program to evolve in the future (Weinbergs, 1999: 233-239). Since the local golfer is still very young and may not have been exposed to the amount of attention related to such a large tournament, therefore, it is highly important to focus on Arousal with him. Nevertheless, the association between arousal and performance can be complicated, and sportspersons in competitive sport need to learn how to control their arousal. As a result, they should be able to increase when they feel lethargic and decrease when they get the anxiety and enviousness to win (Weinberg, 1999:246).
In order to regulate the golfer’s anxiety, it is essential that the golfer needs to increase his awareness of his arousal states. To achieve this, self-monitoring and recognizing will be used to facilitate how emotional states affect the golfer’s performance during practices as well as competition. Since excess anxiety and inappropriate muscle tension can cause the muscles to appear uncomfortable, stiff, and uncoordinated, which in turn reduces performance. Therefore, the golfer will be introduced to two forms of techniques for controlling arousal and anxiety. The two forms of techniques are somatic anxiety-reduction techniques and cognitive anxiety-reduction techniques. First, Somatic anxiety-reduction techniques include:
1. Progressive relaxation – for tensing and relaxing specific muscles 2. Breath control – for controlling anxiety and muscle tension in stressful situations by make use of sportsperson’s breathing. 3. Biofeedback – a physically oriented technique specifically designed to tech sportspersons to control their physiological or autonomic responses. Second, Cognitive anxiety-reduction techniques include: 1. Relaxation responses – for applying the basic elements of meditation. 2. Antigenic training – consists of a series of exercises designed for producing sensations, specifically of warmth and heaviness.