The focus of sport psychology at Vanderbilt University is to utilize psychological interventions to enhance the athletic and academic performance of all student-athletes. Sport psychology services are designed to assist individuals to get the most out of their Vanderbilt experience and prepare them for lifelong success once they leave the university. This mission can only be accomplished when the emphasis is on the balanced development of the total person. Thus, Vanderbilt athletes are encouraged to be committed to excellence in all areas of their life as they represent them-selves, their teams, and Vanderbilt University.
The nature of college athletics creates some specialized needs for student-athletes. Rigorous practice and workout schedules, extensive travel, a highly regiment-ed daily schedule, injury, fatigue, high expectations from coaches, media exposure, and public appearances are just some of the demands that are unique to student-athletes. These athletic demands, along with the normal stressors experienced by most university students, can make life seem overwhelming at times. The sport psychology services at Vanderbilt are available to help student-athletes effectively cope with their unique and challenging life-style.
High level athletes are always looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage. Sport psychology can be an important piece of the performance enhancement puzzle. In essence, sport psychology is all about helping athletes to better understand what it means to be ready to play. Mental readiness is a combination of proper activation, positive emotion, and performance focus. These mental states can be managed through proper use of psychological skills such as relaxation/energizing techniques, imagery, positive self-talk, use of focus and coping plans, and development of performance routines. The overall objective of these mental skills is to assist individual student-athletes and athletic teams to perform at consistently high levels.
In some cases, student-athletes performance suffers due to mental health issues, unfortunate life circumstances, or personal problems. Some common challenges faced by student-athletes include anxiety, depression, family issues, relationship problems, homesickness, injury, sleep problems, low self-esteem, grief issues, substance abuse, disordered eating, history of abuse, sexual assault, and difficulties with roommates, teammates, or coaches. Sport psychology counseling is available to help student-athletes deal with these types of obstacles so they can feel better emotionally and stay focused in the classroom and on their sport performance. Successful counseling will better equip student-athletes to cope with past and current problems. Additionally, student-athletes will learn strategies that will help them proactively manage their lives in the future by developing healthier ways of thinking and behaving.