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"Mario,

Where were you ten years ago? If I knew then what I learned this afternoon, I'd still be playing in the NHL."


Former NHL Player
The Development Of Mental Skills In Canadian Athletes:
A Survey

Summary

Key informants in about a third of the provincial/territorial athletic associations in Canada completed a brief survey related to mental skills training among their athletes. The results revealed the following training profile among these associations :

More than half of the associations provided mental skills training within the first three years of an athletes’ involvement in their sport and most of the others, within six years. This was particularly true of associations involved with early specialization sports like diving, figure skating, gymnastics and swimming, and those who deal with individual as opposed to team sports.

About 45% of the associations provide formal mental skills training for their athletes in the form of clinics or workshops at the club/competitive level and about 30% when they’re competing at the provincial or territory level. Some that are involved in team sports (5%), do not provide formal training until their athletes are competing at the national level.

Most of the athletic associations (about 80%) provided the opportunity for their athletes to receive formal training in the skills and strategies at least once during the past four years. More than 30% provided as many as four clinics or workshops.

Many athletic associations provide or initiate formal training sessions for their coaches. About 60-70% offered at least one clinic or workshop related to mental skills and strategies during the past four years. Approximately 20% of the associations held four sessions.

Of the different mental skills that were inquired about, arousal management appears to receive the least attention. The findings suggest that as many as a quarter of the athletic associations do not provide training in this important skill. In addition, 40 - 45% made no provisions for formally addressing it with either their athletes or coaches during the past four years. It was noted that the use of this skill is essential to competing successfully at the highest levels of competition such as the Olympic Games and that this is one area that should be pursued more vigorously if we truly want to give our athletes the resources they need to compete successfully at the highest levels in sports.

Acknowledgements

This study could not have been done without FYI London.com. I’m most grateful to Katherine Wiggett, Director of Web Operations, for her unhesitating willingness to commit to the project and her support throughout. She and her staff, particularly Grant Spiller who developed the survey website and attended efficiently to all of the technical details, made it easy and enjoyable for me to conduct the study.

Moreover, the study would not have been done had I not been asked to represent the London Sports Council in the pre-games symposium that was planned to be a part of the 2001 Summer Games. Thanks to Susan Legg, the Executive Director, and to the Executive Committee for the privilege of representing Council and the opportunity to help advance the development of sport in Canada.

My thanks to the members of the Sports Council and the others involved in sport at different levels who participated in the pilot study. I especially appreciated the helpful feedback that was provided by Chip Martin of London Lightning Girls Fastball and André Lachance of Baseball Canada.

Because of previous commitments, it was necessary to launch the survey while on the road. Thanks to Drew Mitchell of SportMed BC for enabling me to do this by arranging for the use of facilities at the National Sport Centre of Greater Vancouver.

I also want to express my appreciation to André Gallant, Director of Sport for the Canada Games Council, for his interest and support of the study; the Chefs de Mission who provided names of key informants within their provincial associations; to those within the associations that I contacted to participate in the survey but felt that others were better suited to respond and forwarded my request on to them; and naturally, to all of those in the provincial and territorial athletic associations throughout the country who took the time to complete the survey and in many instances, offer comments on various facets of mental skills training in their particular sport.

Finally, I want to gratefully acknowledge and offer very special thanks to Andrea Faveri for assuming responsibility for the French version of the survey; Andre Lachance for translating the questionnaire and related materials; and to Sébastian Gest and Deny Goulet for preparing the final report in French and aiding in the development of the software that helped to get it online. And last but by no means least, to Tim Faveri for helping to prepare the Power Point presentation for use in the symposium and assisting in the preparation of this report.

About the Author

Mario Faveri is a London-based Sports Psychologist and member of the London Sports Council. While he works with elite and professional athletes, his true passion lies in helping young people to master the mental side of their sport and in encouraging them in the pursuit of their dreams.

Comments and Questions

Comments or questions about the study and requests for e-mail copies of the report should be directed to the author at mfaveri@sympatico.ca

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