Psychological skill training is based on fundamental assumption; athletes try to do the best they can given their physical limitations and learning history, and they try to respond as effectively as possible in every situation. The strategies for acquiring skills involve self-monitoring, self-evaluation and self-reinforcement. These strategies include:
Motivation consists in two dimensions, intensity and direction. Intensity is concerned with how much effort is given to attain certain goals. Direction is concerned with choosing those goals.
Motivation comes from two sources, intrinsic ( inner striving to be competent and self- determining), and extrinsic ( tangible items such as trophies, money, praise or recognitions). Understanding these needs is crucial in the teaching of motivation.
Visualization, or imagery, is a key element in developing a player’s psychological skills. Teach players to imagine performing the skill correctly, imagining both the execution and its outcome. Have players utilize imagery in these specific situations:
a) During practice
b) Prior to the match
c) When winning easily.
d) During the crucial game.
e) With set against them.
Positive reinforcement strengthens the response you want your players to learn. It is vital that reinforcement be offered immediately following the response. Be specific in your reinforcement. Instead of saying, “nice stroke,“ reinforce with, “nice backswing,” or, “excellent follow-through.”
Stress is defined as acquiring when there is an imbalance between what you perceive is being demanded of you and what you perceive your abilities are when and outcome is important. Stress contains three elements:
1. Environment (opponent)
2. Perceptions (I can’t win)
3. You arousal to these element
Managing these elements will have positive impact on performance results.
Relaxation is an excellent technique to counter stress. Initially, guide your players through relaxation of the body’s entire muscle groups while emphasizing slow breathing. Ultimately, the objective is to get the players to accomplish relaxation on their own in a relatively short time.
Self-confidence is perhaps the single most important psychological ingredient for successful athletic participation. It is a player’s believe that he/she can learn a specific stroke, hit a certain shot or win a particular match. Teaching professional can help a player’s self-confidence by eliminating negative self talk, exhibiting a positive attitude and offering positive reinforcement.
Goal setting clearly improves motivation and self-confidence. Goal setting involves stating specific levels of performance and working on those areas until the level is attained.
A comprehensive goal setting program includes both short and long term goals. Short term goals may include developing a transition game or moving up the club ladder. Long term goals may include winning the club championship or developing an all-court style.
Training goals should be specific with the emphases on the degree of attainment, not absolute attainment.
In summary Sport Science is the most valuable tool for every teaching professional. It’s landscape is abundant with the roots of a highly efficient and systematic approach to achieving success.
Branislav Grujic is a USPTA Professional 1, tester and USPTA Sports Science Specialist. He is also a graduate of the High Performance Training Program. He may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
<p>Branislav Grujic is a USPTA Professional 1, tester and USPTA Sports Science Specialist. He is also a graduate of the High Performance Training Program. He may be reached by e-mail at <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Re%3A%20LongIslandTennisMagazine%20Web%...@aol.com</a>.</p>