Master of Arts
Recently, sport psychology has become a more popular resource for athletes and coaches when looking to increase performance. It is unknown how many Canadian universities utilize sport psychology services in their athletic programs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with coaches of Canadian university varsity teams to learn about their opinions on sport psychology and mental performance consultants (MPCs). The research was approached from a pragmatic perspective. Results showed that MPCs are important to enhance performance and provide mental health resources. MPCs provide athletes with personal and leadership development, mental skills training, and mental health support. MPCs can also be a resource for coaches when it comes to professional development and staff support. Building strong, honest, and open relationships with athletes and coaches are keys for success. The inclusion of MPCs within integrated support teams complement the holistic approach provided to student-athletes in order to improve the high-performance model of Canadian universities.
Summary for Lay Audience
Canadian university athletic programs are considered to be high-performance programs. They include resources for their student-athletes such as strength and conditioning, physiotherapy and sports medicine. Professionals in charge of providing these resources for a team are part of that team’s integrated support team (IST). However, not every program provides their student-athletes with sport psychology resources.
Athletes spend the majority of their time training their physical skills to improve their strength, speed, technical and tactical skills. A lot of athletes recognize that the mental side of sport is just as important but neglect to dedicate the same amount of time to practice their mental skills. Some coaches also recognize the importance of including sport psychology as part of their program, but they do not prioritize it enough to overcome time commitment and financial barriers.
In this study, coaches of Canadian university sports teams were interviewed for the purpose of gaining perspective on whether sport psychology and mental performance consultants (MPCs) are beneficial to their sport program. It was found that MPCs are being hired and utilized in Canadian university athletic programs to enhance performance and provide mental health resources. Coaches believed it is important to prioritize sport psychology as part of their program. In addition, it was found that to reinforce this, coaches must show support and commitment to the MPCs. Likewise, MPCs must build strong, honest, and open relationships with athletes and coaches to increase their level of buy-in. These relationships will lead to productive work which can have many benefits such as aiding athletes with personal development, skill development (both mental and physical), and leadership skills. MPCs can also be an added resource for coaches when it comes to professional development and staff support.
The results of this study are not only applicable to the university sport setting. They can be transferrable to any other type of sport setting such as club, amateur, semi-pro and professional teams. They can also be applied to individual sports compared to team sports.
Overall, it was concluded that including MPCs as part of any athlete’s or team’s IST can be beneficial from a high-performance and mental health standpoint.
Cisneros Sánchez, Federico, "Perspectives of Canadian University Coaches on Integrating Sport Psychology and Mental Performance Consultants in Varsity Programs" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7553.
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