Overseas and Local Experts Share Experience at the Applied Sport Psychology Conference for 2018 Asian Games & Asian Para Games
Sometimes when the world’s top-tier athletes are competing among one another, skill may not be the only reason for winning. It is very important for the athletes to cope with the pressure well and to race in their best shape. A single moment of anxiety or inferiority may seriously affect their performance. In this case, sport psychologists play a vital role in helping athletes to manage their emotions during competitions.
Focusing on the 2018 Asian Games & Asian Para Games, the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) and Hong Kong Society of Sport & Exercise Psychology (HKSSEP) jointly organised the Applied Sport Psychology Conference on 16 – 17 March 2018 at the HKSI to discuss the most happened psychological issues, including athlete-coach relationship, emotion control, adversity coping, and choking in major competitions. Eight overseas and local professionals shared their experience in different aspects during the two-day Conference, which attracted more than 400 participants to attend.
Dr Trisha Leahy BBS, Chief Executive of the HKSI, welcomed the distinguished guests from mainland China and overseas at the Opening Ceremony. She believed the Conference would be a valuable opportunity for participants to mix and mingle, share experience, discuss and learn from others. And ultimately, they could foster closer collaboration in sports medicine, sports science, and sports coaching.
In his capacity as the HKSSEP’s President, Dr Henry Li expressed his warm welcome to all guests. He was very pleased to see HKSI joined hands again with the HKSSEP to organise a sport psychology conference, and hoped the two-day event could effectively promote sport psychology in the community and serve as a platform to facilitate professional development among sport psychology experts.
One of the presenters, Dr Karen Cogan, is a licensed psychologist and Certified Mental Performance Consultant. She is currently the Senior Sports Psychologist of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and has attended six Olympic Games as the sport psychologist for medallists. During the Conference, she shared about her roles in the Olympic Movement over the past 20 years including how she worked with athletes to handle their emotion in the midst of and after the Olympics. The presentation reviewed the types of services USOC offered and the delivery of those services at the Games. Dr Cogan also explored some on-site challenges and unexpected moments she encountered and her strategies for addressing these issues.
Mr Takuya Endo, Performance Psychology Consultant of High Performance Support Project, Japan Institute of Sports Sciences, shared his knowledge learnt in the US and how he taught those mental training skills to Japanese athletes. However, he reminded that it was very essential to understand cultural and individual differences when applying theories and skills. In the workshop, Mr Endo also provided participants with a better understanding of “focusing on what one needs to do” and a variety of activities that could be applied in individual or group settings of mental training programmes.
Dr Jamie Diaz-Ocejo, Senior Sport Psychologist of the Aspire Academy shared his insight in three aspects: the psychological skills within an athlete’s “life span”, integration of different skills into a successful performance mechanism and the traits that predict success. Dr Diaz-Ocejo explained how some relevant psychological skills can assist elite athletes to perform at their best, and provided coaches and athletes with some practical tips for daily training process.
HKSI’s Sport Psychologist, Dr Si Ganygan, delivered a keynote speech about mindfulness in elite setting. He lively illustrated the concept of mindfulness from theory to operation, compared its development between cultures and proposed some pioneering ideas about its possible applications across different types of sports. HKSI’s Senior Sport Psychology Officers Dr. Henry Li and Mr. Jiang Xiaobo shared their experience and advice in handling athletes and teams that had fallen into emotional crisis during Major Games. Such frontline experience sharing and case discussion enabled participants to learn practical skills in sport psychology. As a parallel session, Ms Angela Hau and Mr Su Ning, Sport Psychology Officers of the HKSI, explained in details how to assist athletes and their coaches to prepare for their first Asian Games & Asian Para Games. They guided participants to go through some practices and equipped them with some hand-on experience in how to psychologically prepare for upcoming tournaments.