Counseling Services welcomes student athletes and offers them a variety of services. If you are an athlete, you are eligible for the same services as other students, including initial evaluation, individual, group, or couples counseling. If you are interested, we also offer sports psychology consultation. This consultation focuses on the psychological factors associated with physical performance. In addition to your physical talents, you may want to increase the mental skills that allow you during competition to consistently execute all the behaviors that were practiced so well in training.
Professional athletes frequently speak to the issue of mental skills. Shannon Miller, an Olympic Gold Medalist in gymnastics, agrees that mental preparation is the key to success. She says she couldn't have made it to the Olympics on physical ability alone. "The physical aspect of the sport can only take you so far." She goes on to say that most Olympic athletes have excellent physical gifts, train hard, and are exceptionally prepared for competition. It is the mental preparation that separates them. Ray Knight, a former baseball player, says "Concentration is the ability to think about absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary."
What are these scientifically-validated mental skills that enhance and maintain optimal performance? They involve increasing the powerful motivation that carries an athlete through the pain or discomfort of extended competitions. This motivation must go beyond pleasing family, achieving fame, or big money rewards. They involve quelling the enemies of athletic success, such as excessive anxiety, loss of focus, and fear of losing. Techniques such as positive self-talk, arousal regulation, breathing, visualization, goal-setting, and pre-performance routines are important mental skills. When these are learned, you can be more confident during a completion. During the competition, you can stop overthinking, let go of control, and react based on muscle memory to what is happening in the moment. This is the famous state of flow, also referred to as "the zone."
Any athlete can also struggle with a number of other problems affecting performance such as problems with teammates and/or coaches, body image and eating issues, burnout or overtraining, and injury or rehabilitation issues. An athlete may also have problems beyond those of the sport. These can include difficulties with family, partner relationships, or diagnosed psychological problems. These matters can also be addressed during the consultation.
At Counseling Services, we have an AASP-certified, Nevada-licensed sport psychologist, several well-trained staff, and graduate level supervisees providing sports consultation. We emphasize wellness by encouraging all students to live a healthy, active lifestyle. We believe this is best achieved by finding a balanced life routine with respect to eating, sleeping, physical activity, social and academic life, and other meaningful and fun activities.
For more information you may contact us at 775-784-4648 or contact Yani Dickens, Ph.D., CC-AASP, at 775-682-8856.