Sport Psychology Seminar Focuses on Para Athletes

For their quarterly professional development seminar in February, JFKU’s Sport Psychology department hosted Dr. Andrea Faull, a sport psychologist and senior lecturer at the University of Worcester whose extensive research and experience working with para athletes is shaping the way the field is adapting to and working with athletes who have physical impairments.

With a packed audience, both on-site at our Pleasant Hill campus and online, Dr. Faull spent the day educating and engaging our students and alumni on the ins and outs of disabilities as they pertain to sport psychology, how society and media have cultivated a certain perception around what it means to be a para athlete, and updated the group on up-and-coming research contributing to the knowledge bank of evidence-based practices for para athletes.

Pertinent points

To our budding and seasoned sport psychologists and mental skills consultants in attendance, Dr. Faull emphasized how mental skills are mental skills are mental skills, regardless of the athlete’s physical ability, chosen sport, or both. It’s knowing the context within which an athlete is performing that is the key to an effective mental training program. For instance, para athletes are often up against a classification system for their sport. Knowing how the athlete’s classification (and the likelihood of that classification changing before or after a competition) might affect their performance is essential to keep in mind, as is knowing how to adapt various mental skills techniques to more appropriately cater to the athlete at hand.

The latter is where Dr. Faull has really dug in her heels. While practitioners can adjust how they teach para athletes mental skills, many assessment methods and tools are not para-athlete-ready. Thus, Dr. Faull has worked to make some needed adaptations to the Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire-2 (VMIQ-2) for her wheelchair-using athletes and will publish her results this summer. Research in applying techniques for athletes with a disability competing in high-level competitions is also lacking, and she’s working to contribute more to that aspect of the field as well.

Sport Psychology hosts quarterly professional development seminars

Every quarter, JFKU’s Sport Psychology department hosts professional development seminars with notable athletes, sport psychologists, and mental skills coaches in the field. Past speakers have included three-time, off-road triathlon world champion, Lesley Paterson; Erika Carlson, who spoke about setting up a mental skills practice; Dr. Mitch Abrams, who discussed anger management and trauma; Dr. JF Menard, who presented on his work with Cirque du Soleil; Dr. Alex Cohen, who talked about his work at the United States Olympic Committee (USOC); Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre from the University of Limerick, Ireland, who focused on imagery; Dr. Ian Connole, who discussed working with the athletes at a Division-I college; and Drs. Eddie O’Connor and Sam Zizzi, who presented on mindfulness and meditation. These events are open to the public, both online from anywhere in the world as well as in-person on campus, for a nominal fee.

The next event occurs in August and focuses on the application of Sport Psychology to Business and the Board Room. We would love to have you attend. Purchase your ticket below.