Mental Training Tips from a Sport Psychologist

October 18, 2017 / by Kacey Oiness

SVSP New.jpgSt. Vincent Sports Performance consults with athletes using specialized and individualized mental skills training to get them ready for the "big game". The basic principles of this training can be practiced by anyone, not just athletes.

We’ve seen our guest blogger, Kacey Oiness, help athletes of all ages and ability levels prepare for the biggest games of their lives. Then we realized we can use some of her tips when we have our own version of "big games". Here’s a little more about how to use sport psychology principles to get primed for the big days in your career.

We all have “big games” in our lives: That big meeting at work, that big presentation to the clients, that big pitch to the boss. These are like the high-pressure situations that we prepare athletes for, the times when we need to maintain composure and confidence despite the heaviness of the moment.

Strengthen your mental skills through practice and preparation, so when the time comes, you’re equipped for an MVP performance. Use the following mental skills techniques to help:


“Butterflies” really do exist for everyone and are completely normal. What’s important is how you manage them. Physical strategies such as relaxation or deep breathing techniques can work, as well as mental ones like self-talk, an inner dialogue to remain positive and confident.

The way we think, feel and speak to ourselves is impactful on our performance. Be aware of your own inner dialogue and use statements that are confidence-builders.

  • “I am prepared.”
  • “I am knowledgeable.”

Avoid statements that add pressure or lead to worries about the outcome.

  • “I have to nail this!”
  • “If I don’t do well, then…”

The key to composure is to keep your thoughts focused on the present and what is within your control.


Confidence does not come from the absence of pressure or adversity, but rather knowing you have the tools to perform well despite these challenges. Your confidence level stems from a variety of sources – past performance, preparation, goal achievement, feedback from others, and self-talk.

Another chief confidence-building tool is visualization.

Just as a driver in the Indy 500 will imagine the opening laps of the race before their ignition is even fired or a quarterback imagines the routes the receiver will run before the ball is snapped, you, too, can visualize the scenarios in which you will perform.

Imagine yourself performing calmly, assuredly and successfully. What does your goal look like? Visualize yourself performing in a way that achieves it. Review past positive performances and feedback from colleagues. Highlight what you did to make that happen.

Most importantly, have a plan for how you will practice and implement these skills!

Your perspective ultimately determines how you “perform.” When the pressure is on, mastering these skills will allow you to be better composed and more confident, which will set-up the success that follows.

This was a guest post by Dr. Kacey Oiness, licensed sport and performance psychologist at St. Vincent Sports Performance. Thank you to Dr. Oiness for sharing her thoughts with us! Want to know more? Visit St. Vincent Sports Performance online or follow her at @kcoiness.

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