Services > Workshops > Sport Psychology


•     Perfect or Excellent? The Role of Perfectionism in the Pursuit of Excellence

•     Stress and Sport: Striving or Crumbling?

•     Eating Disorders in Sports: Recommendations for Coaches

•     Dealing with “Difficult” Team Members: Understanding Sport Personalities


Perfect or Excellent? The Role of Perfectionism in the Pursuit of Excellence

Although striving for perfection can help enhance performance, it can also have negative effects such as lack of motivation, difficulties with concentration, low self-confidence, stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. What happens when goals become unattainable and expectations exceed athletes’ capabilities? This presentation will focus on the differences between positive and negative perfectionism among athletes and will outline healthy ways for athletes to reach their true potential. The session will provide several case studies to highlight the difficulties athletes may experience due to perfectionism and to facilitate discussion regarding the healthy pursuit of excellence vs. an unhealthy striving for perfection in different sports. The session will end with practical ways for athletes, coaches, and sport psychology professionals to (a) identify and change negative perfectionism and (b) facilitate healthier ways of pursuing excellence in sport.

 Stress and Sport: Striving or Crumbling?

This workshop begins with the explanation of the relationship between arousal and performance and explores sport- and athlete-specific optimal levels of arousal. The basic concept is that as arousal levels increase, performance improves, but only to a point, beyond which an increase in arousal will lead to deterioration in performance. In other words, some arousal is thought to be necessary for efficient performance, but too much arousal can lead to anxiety or stress and can negatively affect performance. The ability to cope with stressful events in sport is an integral part of a successful performance. This presentation will make connections between emotion-focused and problem-solving coping strategies used by elite athletes and will compare them to the coping strategies of astronauts. Research has shown that athletes experience multiple stressors during important competitions, which can be categorized into five main groups: (a) performance issues, (b) environmental issues, (c) personal issues, (d) leadership issues, and (e) team issues. Case studies will be used to depict each of these issues. The workshop will conclude with sport- and athlete-specific strategies to highlight what we can learn from Olympic and World Champions.

Eating Disorders in Sports: Recommendations for Coaches

Disordered eating behaviours and attitudes are prominent in many different sports. Many male and female athletes risk their health to be thinner, faster, or stronger. The focus of this workshop is on helping coaches understand why an eating disorder (ED) might be a problem in sport, how the risks of developing an ED can be reduced, how EDs can be identified at an early stage, and what can be done once an ED is identified. This workshop is intended for all coaches who work with young athletes and especially for coaches involved in high-risk sports, where emphasis is placed on their athletes “making weight.” The differences between healthy eating and “normal” dieting and disordered eating and anorexia/bulimia will be discussed. Practical strategies for coaches to address EDs will be discussed based on a case study of talented young athletes whose performances deteriorated due to excessive dieting. Screening tools for EDs will also be shared with coaches. Workshop participants will engage in discussions about athlete- and sport-specific optimum performance weight. An optimum performance weight may not be an ideal long-term weight but can enhance the athlete’s short-term performance; however it can also endanger the athlete. Difficult issues, such as when to exclude an athlete from a team for medical reasons and how to determine when the athlete can return to training and competition, will be explored.

Dealing with “Difficult” Team Members: Understanding Sport Personalities

A week prior to the workshop, athletes and coaches will be asked to complete a personality inventory, which will be interpreted during the workshop. The inventory will help athletes and coaches gain a better understanding of their team dynamics, demonstrate the value of having diverse personalities on the team, help the team understand which situations energize their teammates and which put stress on them, and provide useful information for coaches on how to increase team cohesion. Stressful situations for different personality types will be discussed in order to develop constructive ways of utilizing personality differences. The focus of this workshop will be on acknowledging that these differences do exist and on helping athletes and coaches change their mindset from irritation to acceptance. Based on the unique combination of personalities on each team, interactions that work well will be enhanced and problem-solving strategies will be applied to interactions that do not work. Athletes and coaches will be asked to identify the toughest issue facing the team and will apply the strategies learned during the workshop to manage any tension, disagreements, or conflict on the team.


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