The purpose of psychological training is to introduce the student athletes to the importance of mental training in sports. The goal is to instill an interest and desire for players to begin studying and practicing this on their own at an early stage in their careers. Using various situational examples, students are made aware of how their minds can allow them to play to their potential and also how the mind can work against them, virtually keeping them from playing up to their capability.
The students are then shown a number of techniques that they can practice that will allow them to increase their ability to focus, concentrate, and use visualization as a powerful tool that can be applied to their tennis, academics and or to any situation. Showing the students actual methods of practicing, takes mental training from mere theory to a tangible tool that they can work with and see results.
Philip Sullivan is a professor in the Kinesiology Department. His Ph.D. from Michigan State University is in Sport Psychology and he has been practising in this field since 2000. Phil is working with two of his graduate students, Simon Drum and Matt Marini, to help the coaches develop a first-rate psychological training program to suit the needs of each of the individual student-athletes.
Playing tennis is a physical and mental challenge. The ability to maintain levels of concentration, yet remain relaxed with the confidence to succeed, is a skill essential to long-term performance in any sport. This skill also has the potential to transcend sport and affect the player in their everyday life. To develop the mental toughness for success at high levels, Niagara Academy training programs address the specific gender and Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) stage of every player. The program will include key mental components identified by sport psychologists: concentration, confidence, motivation, and handling pressure. As the player progresses through the LTAD stages, the mental training aspect will evolve from having fun and respecting opponents, to visualization and self-awareness, to goal setting, relaxation, and positive self-talk. To master the mental challenge of sport, these basic skills are then tested in increasingly difficult competitive environments. Ultimately, the planning for high-level competition will have a large impact on performance. The mental training program is critical at all stages of the LTAD. Dealing with success and failure will determine the player’s continuation in the game and physical activity.