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National teams ready for mind games

“Mental skills are just like physical skills, you need to train this just as you would your body,” said Justin Su’a, a Sport Psychology Consultant that conducted a recent ‘On Purpose With Purpose’ tour sponsored by the American Samoa National Olympic Committee.
He imparted this message to more than 150 athletes and coaches at his Peak Performance Seminar on Saturday, May 28, 2011 at the Department of Agriculture’s conference room in Tafuna that also included the men and women’s national soccer teams.
The seminar was for American Samoa athletes representing the territory in the upcoming 2011 Pacific Games New Caledonia.
Su’a met again with the national soccer team on June 2 for a two-hour session at Pago Park Soccer Stadium.
He reiterated that the mind is a powerful tool in sports and if trained properly can make for a very dangerous athlete.
One topic that has stuck with the players the most is “power statements.”
“A power phrase statement is short, it’s motivational, it’s something to fill your mind,” he explained. “You decide what it is. You fill your mind with a statement that will motivate you and that will empower you.”
Two athletes echoed what most got out of the seminar.
“He gave me a different perspective over the game and how I should think when playing, especially the power statement,” explained Rafe Luvu, fighting for starting spot as a defender on the men’s squad. “The seminar made realize three things I needed to do, set a goal for myself as an athlete; be clear minded and positive during training and the competition and of course the power statement.
“Mine is ‘You can do it!’”
“I was reminded of my motivation in playing soccer,” recalled Kristina Vaeao, contesting for a midfield position on the women’s team. “After that session I am now more inspired and more challenged to out on the field and practice.”
Besides a power statement, “controlling” her thoughts during different game situations is something she will be training her mind for, especially “thinking more positive thoughts then negative.”
“My power statement is ‘Ready…,’ meaning be ready during the game for any situation such as a shot on goal, stopping the ball or who to pass it off to.”
Ever since the seminar the players are being told to “remember what Justin” taught them.
FFAS Vice-President Sandra Herrera is one of those telling the players to use the valuable info provided by Su’a.
“What Justin imparted on his visit will go a long way in preparing our athletes mentally,” she pointed out. “That is a big thing because we are now equipped with the mental part of training. It is now up to the athletes to continue to use what he taught to help them perform at a higher level consistently.”

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