Acting as a sport psychology consultant in a sport that one has a great deal of experience in can be very, very difficult. It makes sense that coaches who are unsure about the benefits of a consultant may be inclined to hire someone with a background in his or her respective sport. However, that can be a very difficult situation to put a consultant in, as they may be asked to make assessments regarding a player’s performance, attitude, or mental preparation by the coach, and the consultant may not answer in the most appropriate way.
I had this situation arise very recently. My sport background is relatively diverse, but the majority of my athletic experience is soccer related. I am currently consulting with a girls’ high school soccer program. I have worked very hard to ensure that I am not viewed as a coach in regard to technical or tactical aspects of the game, but unfortunately I am put in some tough spots.
I spoke with a player who is struggling with her confidence, and really wanted to get my opinion of her play. I would not be drawn on the matter, but she consistently said things that I knew not to be true. Her assertion that she was making all of the plays that she needed to make was wrong, and due to my experience as a player and coach, I knew that her coaches would not see things her way. I was put in the difficult spot of trying to get her to reevaluate her performance so that she could eventually be successful, without speaking to her as if I was a coach. It was very difficult, but hopefully I got her to change the way she appraises her performance in training.