“…but what IS a mental skills coach?”
If you’re asking this question, you’re certainly not alone. When I explain to people my role as a mental skills coach [Performance Enhancement and Rehab Specialist], the knee-jerk reaction is generally, “Can you fix me?! I’m a mess.” or “That stuff freaks me out. I don’t want someone analyzing me.”
The thing is, my job isn’t to fix anything. It’s to help athletes recognize the mental skills they have at their disposal and to harness the potential these tools have in bettering performance. Much like a strength and conditioning specialist, whose job is to optimize performance via physical capabilities, my job is to optimize performance via mental capabilities.
An athlete would never walk onto the field, court, or stage without a proper warm-up. If the argument stands that a significant portion of the game is “mental,” why aren’t we addressing this component of performance with equal weight?
The Philadelphia Phillies appear to be tackling this question head-on. They have recently added a mental skills coach to their team; Geoff Miller joins the organization with a master’s degree in sport psychology. Like all other support staff, Miller’s job is to contribute to the athletes’ arsenals “everything they could possibly need to reach their ceiling” (Gelb, 2017).
Take a look at this story for more information on Miller’s role with the Phillies. Mental skills training is gaining momentum…it’s your choice – and your chance – to jump on board!