Sport Psychology is the use of psychological knowledge and skills to help athletes, teams, and organizations achieve optimal performance while improving the well-being of athletes. While athletes often devote a great deal of their time to achieving optimal physical performance (through nutrition, strength and conditioning) or optimal technical performance (the skills you need to succeed in your sport, such as “on-ice” skills in hockey such as footwork, shooting, passing, checking), the mental approach to the game is sometimes hard to understand or define. As a result, athletes and coaches tend to use the word “It” a lot.
The reality is that mental strength is composed of both skills and actions that can be developed and learned, just as players develop their physical strength and on-ice skills. A Sport Psychlogist from the United Kingdom, Dr. Chris Harwood, describes these mental skills as the 5 C's: Commitment, Communication, Concentration, Control, and Confidence. Breaking down the key mental skills needed for optimal performance into these “5 C's” can be a helpful way to look at each individual aspect of improving your mental game.
Commitment – effort, persistence, resilience, and working to improve weaknesses and perfect strengths
Communication – positive and proactive communication with coaches, teammates,
and support staff
Concentration – focus on “right now”, ability to block distractions inside and outside of the sport
Control – controlling and managing thoughts and emotions, ability to react positively to stress
Confidence – playing without fear of mistakes, displaying confidence through thoughts, words, and actions
Developing these skills can give you the mental edge you need to succeed!