The idea of providing mental training1 (MT) and sport psychology services online is becoming more prevalent as technology continues to shape education and the Web becomes more popular. In September 2000, a search for “mental training” using Google identified 11,700 sites (Stodel & Farres, 2000a). An identical search in February 2006 revealed approximately 1,330,000 sites, representing an increase of over one hundredfold and by April, 2007, this number had ballooned to 80,800,000. Although a dynamic and fully interactive online MT environment does not yet appear to have been realized, it seems likely in the future. In this chapter we highlight the importance of thoughtful design when developing such training and present a framework to guide the development of online MT.
The Concept of Online Mental Training
Emerging technologies are offering new ways to conceptualise and deliver education and in the process are revolutionising how learners learn, think, and build knowledge (Canada, 2000; Evans & Nation, 2000; Land & Hannafin, 2000; McConnell, 2002; Salmon, 2000). Technology is becoming integral to the teaching-learning process as ongoing advancements continue to offer new avenues for learning (Burge & Haughey, 2001; DeBard & Guidera, 2000). Advances in technology are transforming education in the field of physical education (Goggin, Finkenberg, & Morrow, 1997; Martens, 1997). In sport psychology, practitioners and researchers are beginning to explore how they can use the Web to their advantage. Most are using the Web to deliver text-based information, market their products and services, communicate with athletes and others in the field, deliver online courses, engage in scholarly discussion, and share and disseminate research (Stodel & Farres, 2000b). However, the full capacity of the web as an interactive, dynamic educational tool has not yet been harnessed by those in the field.
Stodel and Farres (2002) explored the potential of the Web for sport psychology by considering the concept of online MT. They concluded that “the capabilities of the Web to support interactivity and make [MT] services and resources easily accessible to a wide range of athletes make it an attractive and viable option for delivering [MT]” (Stodel & Farres, 2002, p. 113). However, despite this appeal we have been unable to find a fully interactive MT environment on the Web that provides athletes with a collaborative learning environment supported by expert practitioners within which they can develop their mental skills.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Asynchronous Communication: Communication where the message is not sent and received simultaneously (e.g., e-mail, discussion forums, listservs).
Online Mental Training: Training for the development of mental skills and the acquisition of mental training techniques where the mental training practitioner and athlete/learner are separated by time, location, or both and communication and information sharing occurs via the Internet.
Cyberspace: First coined in William Gibson’s novel “Neuromancer”, the term Cyberspace is used to describe the range of information resources available through computer networks.
Usability: The ease and speed with which the user can find and understand the material on the Web site without assistance.
Synchronous Communication: Communication where the relay of information is simultaneous and therefore occurs in real-time (e.g., chat, audio- and video-conferencing).
WebExcellence in Mental Skills Education: A framework designed to aid practitioners in the development of online mental training environments that facilitate the development of mental skills that enhance performance and maximize enjoyment in sport and life.
Constructivism: A learning theory that posits people construct knowledge by modifying their existing concepts in light of new evidence and experience. Development of knowledge is unique for each learner and is colored by the learner’s background and experiences.