Train your brain the way you play : a constraints-led approach to developing mental skills in sport

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Lindsey Hamilton (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Erin Reifsteck

Abstract: Training sessions developing mental skills that athletes can use during competition are often conducted in workshop settings, limiting opportunities for athletes to apply and transfer the skills into performance (Hamilton et al., 2020). Developing a training method that integrates mental skills in the performance environment can provide the necessary context for athletes to learn, retain, and transfer mental skills into competition to facilitate optimal performance (Hamilton et al., 2020). Training environments designed from a constraints-led approach, where coaches influence the training environment to produce context-relevant information, have been shown to facilitate physical skill development (Reid et al., 2007; Araújo et al., 2013), but limited applied research has been conducted demonstrating the usefulness of this approach in the development of mental skills. As such, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a constraints-led mental skills intervention. An 8-session constraints-led mental training program for youth basketball players was evaluated using pre- and post-program surveys, post-session surveys, and a final program evaluation. Results from 26 youth basketball players ranging in age from 15-18 (M = 16.58) demonstrated development for relaxation (p = .017) and focus (p = .019) in practice, but not in games. There was no significant impact on self-talk skills and no significant differences in reported skill usage. Participants reported that they generally enjoyed the program and valued the on-court experience in helping them learn and practice mental skills. Overall, findings are promising and suggest that a constraints-led mental training program may be a potentially effective program for facilitating the development of mental skills. Findings from this study can provide a model for how MPCs can create effective mental training programs in an environmental context that will facilitate mental skills for optimal performance.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Constraints, Intervention, Mental skills, Performance, Psychology, Sport
Sports for children $x Psychological aspects
Basketball for children $x Psychological aspects

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