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Professor Krista Chandler and PhD student Frank ElyProfessor Krista Chandler and PhD student Frank Ely are part of a research team that created a psychological skills training program for para athletes.

Psychological skills resources provide support for para athletes

UWindsor researchers have headed up an effort to develop a program to train para athletes in psychological skills to enhance their sport performance.

Professors Krista Chandler and Todd Loughead and doctoral candidate Frank Ely from the Sport Psychology and Physical Activity Research Collaborative (SPPARC) lab in the Faculty of Human Kinetics, along with professor Jeffrey Martin of Wayne State University, have created a free online psychological skills training (PST) program.

The potential impact of a PST program on athletes with a physical disability is far-reaching, says Dr. Chandler. In addition to the improvement of sport performance, these programs have the potential to improve psychological skills, making a positive impact on well-being in sport and life.

In collaboration with learning specialist Mark Lubrick from the Office of Open Learning, the team developed eight interactive online modules targeting such skills as goal-setting, concentration, and relaxation.

“We really wanted this program to go beyond education,” said Ely, the lead graduate researcher. “Our focus is on helping para athletes learn ‘why’ and ‘how’ to use these skills on their own and have the confidence to do so.”

In addition to the support this program provides to para athletes, it is part of a larger project funded by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

“Although commentaries on the value of psychological skills training for para athletes are well-established, intervention research is sparse,” Chandler says. “Further, no research has tested the effectiveness of such a program and its impact on well-being in sport and life.”

The researchers encourage para athletes, regardless of skill level, to participate in this free online program. To learn more about this research project or sign up to be a part of the study, visit www.learnpst.com.