The Athlete Development Program (ADP) at the Australian International School (AIS) is one-of-a-kind in Singapore schools, offering student-athletes the opportunity to train and be coached on a path to university scholarships and elite level sport. This semester, the ADP students added a new form of training to their repertoire, making further strides through sport psychology training with Singapore Psychologist and fellow Aussie, Dr Jay-Lee Nair from Mental Notes Consulting. The program comprised a series of interactive group workshops designed by Dr Jay-Lee, specifically for adolescent student-athletes to learn mental skills to enhance their sport experience and performance.

The power packed one-hour sessions covered a broad range of themes and included ‘live polling’ that enabled the students to respond in real-time to questions displayed in the PowerPoint Presentation and share their responses with the group.  

Session one kicked off the program with the motivational theme, The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive. This workshop introduced key ingredients in terms of the focus, mind-set, and actions that lead to peak performance experiences in competition through poignant examples from the world’s best athletes. Student-athletes examined their goal-focus for competitions and built a new found awareness of the types of focus that lead to empowerment and positive action in the competition process.

It shapes a critical understanding of the elements in one’s performance setting that deserve full energy and attention, the factors that can be ignored, and the common uncontrollable circumstances to build a positive response plan around.

Managing Nerves, Pressure, and Anxiety in a Competition was the theme for workshop two. In this session, students learnt how to distinguish common factors and events that can influence their performance in terms of factors they can and can not control. This mental separation process is one of the most empowering activities for young athletes to go through, as it shapes a critical understanding of the elements in their performance setting that deserve full energy and attention, the factors that can be ignored, and the common uncontrollable circumstances to build a positive response plan around. The students were introduced to novel focus strategies and breathing techniques to help shape their positive response plans, and explored where and when to apply these strategies in their training and competition setting.

Session three, Developing an Individual ‘A Game’ Mindset: In this third workshop, student’s were challenged to “go deeper” in the assessment of their mental approach to competition, when they are “hot” and when they are “cold”. Through guided self-analysis using a signature Mental Notes activity, students became aware of their optimal thoughts, focus, and actions that translates to their ‘A Game’ and ‘D Game’.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Training was introduced in session four. This was another “first” for most of the students to learn and practice techniques to help calm the mind and body before big events. Students connected with the importance of positive body language for composure and confidence and how to breathe effectively for relaxation and focus.

The final session put the spotlight on thoughts before and during competition that can create nervousness and anxiety and in contrast, the thinking that leads to composure and control.

Students competed against each other in small groups with the goal of creating the best counter statements to their common negative thoughts that derail confidence.

This is what student-athletes had to say about their experience in the program:

“The program has helped me focus more on my sport and has provided me with ways to pick myself back up when I’m not feeling as confident with my sport.”

“I enjoy the interactive surveys.”

“I have been able to relate to what Coach Jay [Dr Jay-Lee] has said, and have used her tips in training and competitions”

“I’m not very confident on the pitch but I feel like since starting the program my confidence has been boosted”

“The program has made me feel more motivated to compete in my sport because I feel as if there are more ways to improve myself and help me to improve on my sport.”

To find out more about mental skills training to enhance your performance, visit Dr Jay-Lee today at the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre.

NB This article featured in AIS December’s newsletter!