Take a peek into this volleyball meeting at Prior Lake High School. Instead of Xs and Os, motivating phrases fill the white board and inter-squad games replace a breakdown of the next opponent.
“I’m empowered. Boom,” Cindra Kamphoff exclaimed as she engaged Lakers in a team activity.
Welcome to the world of sports and performance psychology. Often times associated with professional and college athletes – mental toughness training is trickling down to the high school level.
“Think about a time in the game when it gets really hard. And maybe it’s when you’re playing,” Kamphoff instructed.
Kamphoff is a certified mental performance consultant. She started working with high school teams in Minnesota seven years ago, after Minnesota State University, Mankato opened its center for sport and performance psychology.
“We just were really excited about the opportunity to allow her girls to have an experience I was outside the court that way that would benefit them as athletes but more so as people,” said Prior Lake volleyball coach Mike Dean.
Today the Lakers learn how to challenge negative self-talk to boost performance.
In Hastings, Mankato grad students under guidance of Dr. Kamphoff demonstrate how to communicate effectively, move quickly past mistakes, and focus on controlling what you can.
“We’ve learned to have short-term memory is the season I think for getting our mistakes quicker that will benefit us in a game or practice,” said Hastings junior Mallory Brake.
“Mental skills training is kind of like a long-term practice you can’t just say this is a skill it’s easy to do,” said Mankato grad student Ashley Raulli. “It’s kind of a day to day practice and that sometimes difficult for athletes to implement it right away. The hope is that they learn more each year.”
For the modern day high school athlete, building skills now can be transformative.
“Looking at specialization, looking at trying to be an athlete and student and taking AP classes and being in band at the same time, there’s a lot of tough things,” said Lakers assistant volleyball coach Jenna O’ Brien. “Yeah, kids should be talking about this because they’re dealing with some of the same struggles.”
“One of the reasons why I am incredibly passionate about this field is because when I think about my struggles particularly in college I didn’t have the mental skills to really deal with my inconsistency. I could have used these skills when I was there,” Kamphoff said.
That lesson is not lost on these students.
“I think it just helps in every day life,” said Prior Lake senior Paige Benson. “I love yoga as well it may incorporate some of the statements and mailed it and it is definitely the statements and what I’ve learned from Sandra has different in my ways and school work and family life as well and just can join controllables. Only (what) you can only control.”