Coaches report several barriers to acquiring credible coaching related information, including: time, priorities, money, accessibility, and ability to interpret academic research. While coaches value psychological skills they often face numerous barriers to its implementation with their athletes. Presenting mental skills information online addresses many of the barriers, but coaches report that they question the credibility and quality of existing online resources. Not all coaches and athletes have access to mental performance consultants, notably those in rural locations or in non-targeted sports.
In an effort to reduce the gap between research and practice we have developed an evidence-based online sport psychology resource for coaches. Our aim is to increase coaches’ knowledge of and confidence to deliver mental skills. The website is designed to provide coaches with both practical activities they can use with their athletes and evidence-based information. Through podcasts, downloadable pdf worksheets, discussion forums, and an ‘Ask the Expert’ section we hope coaches can enhance their delivery of mental skills when they’re not able to access a mental performance expert. We also hope that this website will help coaches to connect with other coaches and mental performance consultants in a community of practice.
After receiving feedback from a pilot of the website with masters of coaching students we have started to use social media (i.e., twitter) to highlight new and cutting edge research and how these relate to current events in the world of sports. We aim to continuously update the website with information, worksheets, podcasts, and interactive features (e.g., webinars). Our hope, in the future, is to be able to include some of the website activities as professional development credits for coaches.
Feedback from the coaches in the pilot study was very positive:
“In addition to providing coaches and athletes with credible knowledge and research-based evidence surrounding sport psychology topics and mental skills, the website bridges the gap between knowledge and applied practice. It offers coaches and athletes the ability to implement, practice, and engage in mental skills training through easy to access, skill-specific worksheets and tools.”
“Overall, I enjoyed the website and from a coaching perspective I feel like I could use this with my teams and it would be effective. I think my players would buy into using these mental skills because when you go on the website the potential benefits become so clear. A true competitor would embrace such an opportunity. A valuable resource that all coaches who are serious about success should use!”
Sportpsychologyforcoaches.ca (@SP4coaches) was developed by a team of researchers and mental performance consultants:
Melanie Gregg (The University of Winnipeg), Barbi Law (Nipissing University), Paige Pope (University of Lethbridge), Craig Hall (Western University)