Sport Psychology

UW Health sport psychologist Shilagh Mirgain helps athletes overcome anxiety to compete at their highest levels.UW Health Sports Medicine offers sport psychology services for athletes who want to best use their mental and emotional skills to achieve peak athletic performance.


Meet Our Sport Psychologist: Shilagh Mirgain, PhD



Managing Sports Anxiety


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 sport psychologist.


What is a sport 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 sport psychologists help athletes?


Sport psychologists can assist athletes in developing the following skills: 

  • 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 sport 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.




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