Skip to Content
UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital
DONATE Donate
SHARE TEXT

Sports Psychology

UW Health Sports Medicine offers sports psychology services for athletes who want to best use their mental and emotional skills to achieve peak athletic performance.

 

Competition can cause some athletes to react both physically and mentally in a way that can affect their performance negatively. Recreational, amateur and professional athletes can work through these issues and improve athletic performance with the help of a sports psychologist.

 

What is a sports psychologist?

 

Sport psychologists can help athletes use mental and emotional skills to achieve optimal performance and mental health, and minimize the psychological effects of injury and poor performance.

 

How do sports psychologists help athletes?

 

Sport psychologists can assist athletes in developing the following skills: 

  •  

    Sports psychologist Shilagh Mirgain, PhD, discusses how she works with athletes to achieve an optimal zone of performance.

    Improve focus and deal with distractions
  • Increase confidence and cope with doubts
  • Develop coping skills to deal with setbacks and errors
  • Find the right zone of intensity for optimal performance
  • Build a healthy belief system and identify irrational thoughts
  • Improve or balance motivation for optimal performance
  • Refine game-specific strategies and game plans
  • Learn visualization to enhance performance
  • Address team dynamics

What type of services do sports psychologists provide?

 

Some of the techniques used to work with athletes include:

  • Imagery: Involves visualizing the performance of a task, such as participating in an athletic event or successfully performing a particular skill.
  • Motivation: Involves looking at both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
  • Attentional focus: Involves the ability to tune out distractions and focus attention on the task at hand.
  • Self-regulation: Involves the ability to exert control over thoughts, feelings and actions to optimize performance

Once learned, these techniques allow the athlete to relax and to focus his/her attention in a positive manner on the task of preparing for and participating in competition.