The primary objective of this study is to undertake a needs assessment for an elite level athlete, providing focus on psychological factors which could be inhibiting optimal performance. Using results identified in a needs assessment, the study continues to develop a mental skills training programme (MST) based on framework used by Weinberg and Williams’ (2001). Following the completion of the MST programme, a personal reflection is undertaken which considers the process of programme development and offers wider view-points on the practice in general.
Sullivan and Nashman (1998) suggest that despite prevailing ideologies, athletes are the same as other people, they face a range of problems which can result sub-optimal performance. Psychological factors are widely considered when attempting to understand why athletes often do not always perform to the best of their abilities (Singer and Ashnel, 2006). Administering a needs assessment can provide a great deal of information about an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, providing a basis for future development.
MST can broadly be defined as a variety of techniques which are used to develop the psychological determinants which contribute to an athlete performing well (Thelwell, Greenlees, and Weston, 2006). A MST programme can be described as a combination of techniques, which are strategically selected to target the weaknesses of a performer. Gordin and Reardon (1995) suggest programmes are a structured to achieve progress quickly, as contemporary athletes are under high levels of pressure to perform, the ability to detect and remove any potential weaknesses is considerably important.
Applied framework can be further understood as the skeleton or shell which a developmental programme can be created around (Murrell, 1977). As the problems people in consultancy roles face are vast, developing individualised yet effective treatment is difficult. Framework can be considered an invaluable tool to a consultant, usually built on theoretical assumption conceptual framework can work as a guide, aiding in the diagnosis of a client’s problems (Hill, 2001).
Building on the above definitions, the following paragraphs further explore the process of developing a MST to aid professional development. Framework is adopted in the context of sport psychology for a range of reasons. Primarily, Framework can be considered advantageous as it helps provide organisation and structure within a programme, demonstrating clear phases of progress for the client/ practitioner to follow (Rodman, 1980).
Usually built on theoretical assumption conceptual framework can work as a guide to a practitioner, aiding in the diagnosis of a client’s problems (Hill, 2001). Morgan (2006) argues, whilst offering structural integrity, framework also provides the necessary room for a practitioner to develop something which is highly individualistic. Weinberg and Williams’ (2001) identify 7 phases in their framework, these phases were used as guide to aid in the development of the immediate programme.