Tigers’ Youth Sports Psychology Support

Posted: Thursday 29th October 2020 - 10:00 AM

The mental coaching aspects of professional sports receive increasing attention and this is no different with Castleford Tigers’ Youth setup.

Both scholarship and academy groups benefit from regular sports psychology support and coaching to prepare them for the ups and downs encountered over a season, but also to give them skills that will applicable later in their careers.

Scholarship Mental Skills Coach Keith Sloan was impressed with the recent application and focus of the players despite that logistical setbacks of Covid-19:

“One of the first things that was evident to me since joining the club in July was how much sport psychology support is valued within the Youth systems here. 

The academy staff have worked closely together to build a cultural footprint around wider club values so the players and the idea of 'what a Cas player should look like.' Since lockdown, we have been running weekly Sport Psychology workshops via Zoom where we are introducing the boys to the club values and key mental skills. The players have been a credit to themselves with their application during these sessions.

Our two main areas of focus with the scholarship group are performance and well-being. In terms of performance, our aim is to encourage them to take control of the mental side of their game in order to give themselves the best chance of thinking and behaving effectively under pressure. With well-being, we are encouraging them to speak openly about their experiences, both good and bad, and to seek support when it is needed. Professional sport is volatile so we are teaching the boys how to manage the highs and lows associated with a career in sport.”

Meanwhile Cameron Bains works principally with the academy group and some individual players alongside fellow Academy Mental Skills Coaches Tansy Tomlinson and Dean Watson:

“I’ve been at the club for 2 years now and I’m fortunate that from the outset that the club has recognised the importance of sports psychology by giving me the necessary time with the players to deliver support across both a group and 1-1 setting.

We’ve got a great set up whereby the theory that we teach in the education sessions is then being put into practice on the field through the coaches allocating time to integrate it into their sessions. 

It was unfortunate that last season ended prematurely however, that time was utilised effectively by planning for the upcoming season where we’ll be start to introduce of a new psychological framework.”

A typical workshop will work on applications of mental skills such as setting goals, positive imagery, and the importance of pre-match routines however players are also supported through one-to-one sessions which help support their individual needs.

These provisions link to a wider cultural footprint which is essential to both high performance and an enjoyable atmosphere at the club. This aligns with the way the club coaches, the type of players/characters that it wants to develop, and the type of environment and culture that it wants to create. Mental skills training and sports psychology is embedded within everything that is done at youth level rather than a stand-alone provision and the club is thankful for all the individuals named above that play a vital role in the development of future Tigers’ players who are well rounded, resilient, and independent players who demonstrate leadership, communication and problem-solving characteristics.

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