Please browse through our list of Frequently Asked Questions about sports psychology and mental training. If you don’t find the  answers to your questions here, then please do not hesitate to contact us in order to learn more about our sport psychology resources or Zone Performance’s mental toughness programs.

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When should I work with a sports psychology expert?

The most common sign that an athlete needs to work with a mental coach is when he or she is unable to perform up to their maximum ability level during competition. This is often characterized when an athlete is able to perform well in practice, but seems to flounder or freeze up during competition. Smart athletes and coaches recognize the warning these warning signs:

  • An inability to cope with the pressures of competition
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Having difficulty with performance anxiety or fear of failure.

Another situation, in which working with a sports psychologist is appropriate is when an athlete is performing after an injury or in the recovery stage of injury and needs help working through issues, such as diminished confidence, which may manifest during the healing process.

What kind of results can I expect from mental training?

Sports psychology and mental toughness coaching is not a one-size-fits-all solution to performance issues in sports. Results vary from athlete to athlete and are contingent upon factors such as a desire to improve mental game skills, the ability to implement sports psychology strategies, and a willingness to overcome the mental obstacles that get in the way of performance.

However, anticipated outcomes include improved confidence; greater composure; keener concentration because of increased ability to cope with distractions; and entering the zone faster and staying there longer.

Why should I work with Zone Performance?

For more than 5 years, John Stevenson and Zone Performance have helped athletes improve their performance through mental toughness coaching. John Stevenson is one of Edmonton’s leading mental game coaches, combining the knowledge gained from his M.A. in sports psychology, hands-on experience working with hundreds of athletes, and more than 20 years’ experience combined as an athlete in football, hockey, baseball, tennis, lacrosse, and golf.

What mental coaching programs do you offer?

Zone Performance offers a wide range of sports psychology and mental training programs for both individuals and teams at the amateur and professional levels. The very best sports psychology program is the highly personalized and customized option is of working one-on-one with John Stevenson in person.

Zone Performance also offers phone, Skype, and email coaching & mental training programs. We tailor our programs so that you can be sure to find one that fits your needs and schedule.

What mental coaching program is best for me?

Zone Performance will help you select the best program for your mental game needs… Please call us at 1-780-803-5646 to discuss the options we offer to improve your mental game. When you start a coaching program, we begin with an AMAP (Athlete’s Mental Aptitude Profile) to assess your individual needs and how mental toughness training could best benefit you. We then develop a customized plan based on our mental game assessment system, focusing on your personal needs.

Our Mental Coaching Options Are:

  • Face-to-Face in Edmonton, AB
  • Phone or Skype Coaching programs from anywhere in the world
  • Email Coaching programs from anywhere in the world
  • Face-to-Face at your site for teams and groups

Contact us with your sports background and to request information on our mental game coaching programs today!

Do you work with athletes or teams in all sports?

We work with any athlete, team, or performer who is open to change and motivated to improve his or her mental game. Our programs can be applied to any level of competition, including young athletes and parents, junior, high school, college or professional. We work with individuals as well as teams. John Stevenson’s experience is varied, but he has provided mental game coaching in sports such as: golf, auto racing, motocross, running, shooting, gymnastics, skating, soccer, tennis, football, basketball, baseball, softball, hockey, BMX racing, swimming, triathlons, skydiving, competitive sailing, billiards, and bowling. Our programs and assessments allow us to concentrate on the particular needs of each athlete, regardless of the specific sport. To see some of the feedback we’ve received about experiences of athletes in all sports, visit our client list.

Can sports psychology or mental training help my child to perform better in sports?

Mental training for sports parents and kids can help you identify the areas in your child’s mental game that are holding back his or her performance. It will also teach you the mental game skills, practice routines, and communication skills to positively impact your child’s performance. Learn how to become the Ultimate Sports Parent by visiting our Youth Sports Site.

When can a team best utilize mental game coaching?

Mental toughness coaching and sports psychology are helpful for teams who simply want to improve overall performance. As a coach, you likely know the symptoms that indicate that your team is not performing up to its potential, and mental coaching is needed, such as when athletes lack confidence, lose motivation, commit more mental errors than usual, or perform better in practice than during competition.

How can sports psychology help my team?

Sports psychology can help team athletes by enhancing confidence, improving focus, increasing practice efficiency, and building team unity. We can also help the slumping team identify why performance is below potential and how implementing mental game strategies can positively impact performance.

What kinds of programs for teams are available?

Our team programs are customized for your team. We initiate our team sports psychology coaching by assessing the needs of your team and creating a customized program that will combine seminars, clinics, workshops, and individual sessions to target the specific challenges you would like to address with your team. Contact us to build a custom program for you and your team.

Where are you located?

Our office is in Edmonton, Alberta and we meet with athletes all over the province. However, we work with many athletes via Skype, Phone, or GotoMeeting Video Conferencing.

Who are Zone Performance Clients?

Clients in this program are Company executives, Entrepreneurs, Students, Performers, and Athletes. A person who feels that they are not realizing their full potential and wants to excel, is a excellent candidate for this program.

What is sports psychology?

Sports psychology coaching helps athletes (1) understand how the mind influences performance and (2) apply mental strategies to help perform their best in competition. We also help athletes improve practice efficiency and focus. You’ll learn how to mentally prepare for competition and how to take your practice game to competition. Sports psychology is not for problem athletes. We help you improve your performance using mental training strategies from sports psychology

What’s the difference between sports psychology and therapy?

Unlike psychotherapy or therapy, sports psychology doesn’t use couches, prescribe medicines, or work with abnormal behavior. Instead, the goal of mental game coaching and/or sports psychology is to teach athletes how to be more confident, improve focus, stay composed under pressure, practice more efficiently, and develop better pre-performance routines. The main difference between a mental game coach and a therapist is that mental game coaches work with athletes on sports performance enhancement and not personal challenges (e.g. working through a divorce, coping with an addictive behavior, etc.) or abnormal behavior (e.g. schizophrenia).

How do I know if I’m a good candidate for mental game coaching?

You would be a great candidate for mental game coaching if you have the physical talent and skills for your sport and are motivated to perform your best in competition, but have realized:

  •   You should be consistently performing better in competition.
  •   You perform better in practice than in competition.
  •   You’ve lost confidence or are in a performance slump
  •   You can’t concentrate in the now or are frequently distracted.
  •   You get upset with yourself easily after mistakes.

Find out now if you’d be a candidate for mental game coaching – Contact us now to request an AMAP Mental Toughness Assessment.

What is Mental Game/Mental Toughness Training?

Mental Game Coaching is not simply psychology it also:

  • focuses on the strengths of a client’s mental and physical abilities plus mental preparation skills.
  • helps clients develop the ability to prepare mentally for competition and high pressure situations.
  • gives clients tools and strategies aimed at getting the best results.
  • equips clients with mental and life tools.

Mental or Psychological Skills Training is that segment of psychology that concentrates specifically on helping clients through the mental barriers that are keeping them from performing up to their potential.

The primary goals is to teach clients how to be more confident, focus better, stay composed under pressure, practice more efficiently, and develop better pre-performance routines.

The main difference between a Mental Game Coach and a Psychologist is that Mental Game Coaches work with clients performance enhancement and not personal challenges or abnormal behavior.

How does Mental Toughness Training Work?

As mentioned above, the first step in Mental Toughness Training is to identify your mental game strengths and weaknesses.

Prior to training the client is given two empirically validated questionnaires to complete. This assessment in conjunction with the Biofeedback and NeuroFeedback assessment serves as guideline towards developing a complete picture of their mental game, regardless of the specific sport, performance or career.

Once the client grasps the basic concepts and skills, the application plan of the mental game coaching starts. Zone Performance helps you integrate the sessions and the mental skills into regular practice, performance routines and daily life.

The best results of mental coaching come from long term application of mental training as you apply these skills day after day.

What is BioFeedBack and How Does it Help Your Sports and General Performance?

If you have ever had you temperature taken, you have received BioFeedBack. Your temperature is “feedback” about your body that tells you whether or not you have a fever. Once you realize you have one, you can improve your condition by going to bed or drinking plenty of fluids.

BioFeedBack therapists rely on BioFeedBack machines in the same way that you rely on your thermometer. A BioFeedBack machine detects your internal body functions with sensitivity and precision. Then, the therapist uses this is information to train you to understand your body’s “feedback” and, with this knowledge, shift your emotional responses and behavior to improve your health.

BioFeedBack is not a “new age” therapy. In fact, it isn’t new at all. It has been around since the 1960’s as a treatment for a number of health concerns. BioFeedBack is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change or self-regulate specific physiological activity (heart rate, respiration, muscle tension, skin temperature & skin conductance) for the purposes of improving health and performance.

Precise BioFeedBack instruments measure your physiological activity which rapidly and accurately “feed back” information to the client. The presentation of this information, often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior, supports desired physiological changes. Over time, these changes can be self-regulated by the client without continued use of any equipment.

What is Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Training?

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a technique that measures your physiological functions under stress and peak performance like breathing (respiration rate RR), heart rate (HR), and blood pressure (BP). This technique teaches clients how to self-regulate these functions through diaphragmatic breathing techniques taught at an optimal pace to ensure coherence between heart rate and respiration.

More specifically, heart rate is coordinated with your breathing patterns and vice versa. The client will receive feedback on the monitors how these physiological functions change (HRV) under situations of stress and optimal functioning in both performance and life situations. The aim of the process is to teach clients how to control or self-regulate HRV for optimal functioning under pressure on demand.

What is NeuroFeedBack?

Neurofeedback, also called EEG feedback also known as Electroencephalography (EEG) BioFeedBack is a learning strategy that enables a person to alter their own brain waves.

For over four decades, EEG has been used in research and medical settings to help train individuals to change brain wave patterns. Only recently, have advances in computer technology made it widely available for the general public and athletic populations.

Thus, Neurofeedback can be referred to as brain exercise or mental training. Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation. Good self-regulation is necessary for optimal brain function and performance optimization. Self-regulation training enhances the function of the central nervous system and thereby improves mental performance, emotional control, and physiological self-regulation.

How does BioFeedBack and NeuroFeedBack work?

The therapist will un-intrusively tape or strap between two to six sensors or electrodes onto your body in order to collect data. The sensors may be attached to your head, fingers, hands or abdomen. There are no needles or painful procedures involved.

Once the sensors are attached, your body’s responses are communicated to the BioFeedBack machine and charted in a way that your therapist will explain. Most machines can measure your body’s blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, galvanic skin response (sweating), muscle tension and/or brainwave function.

During a 50-minute NeuroFeedBack session, sensors are attached to the scalp at preselected locations with EEG paste, which detects the brain waves. It is a painless procedure and does not involve the application of any voltage or current to the brain. It is entirely non-invasive.

The NeuroFeedBack Performance Psychology Consultant observes the brain in action on the computer screen from moment to moment by monitoring brain waves and rewards shifts towards more optimal and stable brain states.

As the client engages in a training or video game that responds to the athlete’s brain waves that represent well-regulated attention focus and arousal levels the graphics appear uninterrupted.

Conversely, when the brain waves are not meeting the parameters set by the intervention, the training screen or video game is temporally stopped. Specifically, NeuroFeedBack (auditory and visual) allows the client’s brain to detect and release unuseful or sub-optimal patterns, which can be a source of distraction-such as negative self-talk and self-regulate them and convert them into a positive attentional focus.

Consequently, the brain responds to the challenge of the feedback and moves towards a more adaptive and flexible functioning. During the course of the training program settings are continuously adjusted on the feedback program to define greater challenges for the athlete until the client achieves mastery. In some cases, this can be done in 5-10 sessions, in others it could take quite a bit longer.

Can Vision Training Really Improve Sports or Student Performance?

There is a difference between ‘peripheral vision’ and ‘peripheral awareness’. Peripheral vision cannot be changed. What you’re born with is what you’ve got, and barring injury or disease, it’s what you will die with.

On the other hand, peripheral awareness can be greatly enhanced by retinal stimulation. Retinal stimulation involves having the client maintain their focus directly in front of them while simultaneously reacting to a target that is rapidly moving in their peripheral field.

At first, objects in the periphery may seem very murky and indistinct, but with training the athlete will quickly become more aware of them and as a result, react faster to peripheral action with losing their focus on the target or objective. This improvement in peripheral awareness translates directly to improved athletic performance.

How do I find out more or get started?

You can call us during regular hours–from 9-5 Mountain Standard Time, Monday to Friday. Or you can send us an email and we’ll reply promptly.