Quite a few weeks have passed since the 10th ENYSSP (European Network of Young Specialists in Sport Psychology) Workshop that happened in Leipzig (Germany) between 31 October and 1 November. Now that the excitement levels have normalised, it is safe to reflect on the amazing experience.
I was surprised to realise that this was already my fourth workshop and I am becoming a veteran. Nevertheless, ENYSSP never stops surprising, supporting and inspiring. What always strikes me is that no one comes to ENYSSP Workshop to simply present their work. No, people come here to share experiences and learn from each other. And these are not only smooth success stories, but bruises and bumps along the road to finding the best way of doing sport psychology. In such an open environment a young professional realises “Hey, I am not alone, all these people are going/have gone though the same, I can learn from them, maybe they can learn from me too“.
This year’s workshop was themed “Sport Psychology in Youth Development” and, indeed, it provided excellent insights into equipping young athletes with mental skills for both sport and life. A twitter-facilitated panel discussion centred around creating a path for optimal youth development, while technology provided audience with an excellent opportunity to steer the discussion without disturbing the natural flow. Furthermore, Wim Keizer (Netherlands) in his oral communication shared experiences of developing mental skills training materials for young athletes. Imagery exercise: how would a cartoonist draw a sport psychologist?
Then we had some pretty amazing keynotes. Dr. Oliver Stoll (Germany) shared his 20 years of experience doing sport psychology in peak-performance sports. While Dr. Xavier Sanchez (United Kingdom), the first president of ENYSSP, shared research and applied implications on self-regulation and pressure in sport performance. Play it safe or play it risky? That is the question.
But the part were I, personally, learnt the most was the workshops. Hands-on, daring, sharing, discussing, challenging type of learning. Too bad I couldn’t attend all of them due to the parallel sessions. There was everything from empowering female coaches with mental training and integrating international athletes, through talent selection and peer consultations, to using juggling and online apps in mental training.
I and my colleague Lisa Novoradovskaya also conducted a workshop entitled “United by Sport: Teaching Young Athletes to Appreciate Diversity”, where we introduced some strategies for creating more positive sports environments. The participants learnt to recognise human differences and situations in which they matter or don’t, they got to experience the feelings caused by labelling, worked on separating facts from opinions and tackled physical barriers in fun activities.
Let’s not forget the beautiful poster session, where one could find not only some very fresh research findings or applied insights, but also ask the authors deeper questions, like “How did the data collection process go? What have you learnt? What would you do differently next time?”.
After all, the true stars of the workshop were coffee breaks and social events. These were times when so much coffee-and-cake-accompanied communication, networking and fun happened that some of us needed days to recover from “social hangover”.
Leipzig ENYSSP (#hypezigenyssp) experience was exciting, mentally stimulating and inspiring. Leipzig was also a special place for many of the participants, since it brought the EMSEP (European Masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology) students and graduates back together to the place where they all had spent a few memorable months. And, of course, no Leipzig experience would be complete without a….
See you next year?
Rita Dekšnytė, ENYSSP country representative for Lithuania.