Sports Psychology


 Mental Skills to Improve Your Game

More and more sports performers are looking towards mental preparation as a way of giving themselves ‘the edge’ in their sport. How many times have you felt that you haven’t played as well as you could because you weren’t focussed, you got frustrated or because you were ‘psyched out’ by an opponent? All of these factors could be prevented through psychological skills training. Psychological skills training involves training the mind in the same way that you would train the body in preparation for sport.


1.     CONCENTRATION – The ability to focus on the ‘here and now’ and not to be distracted by for example a bad shot is an important skill in squash. Focussing on things that have happened in the past may cause you to miss important events going on around you on the squash court.
Concentration Tip: If you make a mistake during a game, take a deep breath, say the word “focus” to yourself, and continue playing.

2.     SELF-CONFIDENCE – A confident player is a successful player. If you believe you can play well, you will.
Confidence Tip: Before commencing a game, visualise yourself playing the game successfully

3.     OPTIMAL AROUSAL – Each individual performer will have an optimal level of arousal at which they will perform at their best. You will need to find out what your optimal level is for a Squash match. If you are too hyped up or too calm your performance may suffer.
Optimal Arousal Tip: To decrease your arousal level use slow and controlled breathing
Optimal Arousal Tip: To increase your arousal level listen to fast paced music or say motivating phrases to yourself.

 Many individual performers and sports teams of all levels of ability employ Sports Psychologists to help them develop their mental skills, in the same way that they would employ a coach to help them develop their physical skills.

 A Sports Psychologist can design an individualised mental skills programme to help you improve your performance. Areas which a sports psychologist could help a performer develop include dealing with nerves/anxiety, improving self-confidence, coping with sports injuries, improving concentration, goal setting and controlling aggression.

If you are interested in speaking to a Sports Psychologist, or would like to find out more about Sports Psychology, please contact Caroline Heaney at the University of Luton.

Caroline Heaney, Lecturer – Sport & Exercise Psychology, University of Luton
Tel: 01582-734111 (ext. 2637)  Email