By Mike T. Wilson, Graduate Student, John F. Kennedy University
After playing elite level soccer for most of my life there seemed to be an undoubtedly significant factor that I witnessed which separated the better from the best. So far as technical skill, well, save for the Michael Jordans and Lionel Messis even Nadals, professional elite level sports are all but equal. However, aside from the resources that athletes use beyond the weight room and after the fitness programs are finished, there is yet another factor; the mental game.
I first encountered sport psychology in the Menâ€™s Varsity Soccer program at Azusa Pacific University. The year my team won the 2007 NAIA National Championship was the first time I was introduced to goal setting. The first time I ever heard of a SMART goal I was sitting with a group of 24 teammates on the eve of training camp.
Since that summer evening nearly five years ago I have received my Bachelors degree in Sport Psychology, I am interning with the Sport Psychology Institute Northwest, had professional soccer experience, and currently I am currently working on my Masters in Sport Psychology at John F. Kennedy University. Through my experience in athletics I understand the importance of mental skills and the significance of properly applying mental skills techniques. Whether it is teaching situational-anxious athletes how to use imagery to build confidence or teaching a softball team how team cohesion and group dynamics. The role of a mental coach for individual based sports such as tennis, are critical in maximizing optimal performance.
My long-term goal is to be a licensed Sport Psychologist, working with every type of athlete of all levels and ages. My short-term goals are to complete my Masterâ€™s work, receive my Nutrition and Exercise Performance Certificate, and complete the Association for Applied Sport Psychology membership.