chapter  1
37 Pages

Mental skills training and strength and conditioning: Stephen D. Mellalieu and David Shearer

The importance of the mental aspect of performance has long been acknowledged by

those involved within sport. Indeed, sport psychology as a subject of study possesses a

significant history with over a century of scientific inquiry (cf. Feltz & Kontos, 2002).

Despite this legacy, sport psychology provision for athletes and teams in high-

performance sport is often overlooked in favour of other areas of sports science sup-

port (e.g. physiological and biomechanical). This lack of provision is largely due to

the perceived objectivity of the natural sciences and their tangible measurement

approaches; psychological services are often viewed as lacking the ability to demon-

strate treatment efficacy (cf. Smith, 1989). Additionally, there has been very little inte-

gration of applied sport psychology with other disciplines in sports science (cf. Vealey,

1994; Wylleman, Harwood, Elbe, Reints, & de Caluwe´, 2009). Since the emergence

and acknowledgement of strength and conditioning (S&C) as both an applied field

and research area in its own right, recent years have seen literature within the disci-

pline discussing the contribution that psychological factors make to enhancing phy-

siological performance (e.g. Tod, Iredale, & Gill, 2003). In a field where new training

techniques and theories are constantly being generated, implemented and evaluated,

the search for performance gains is paramount, be they psychological, biomechanical

or otherwise. Fundamental elements within this search therefore are the questions:

can psychological factors contribute to enhanced S&C performance? and, if so, how

can these factors be implemented or developed (trained) in sports performers?