Associate Mental Training and Peak Performance Specialist
Dr. Samantha Monda is a mental training and peak performance specialist for KPEX Consulting and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Robert Morris University. A former three sport WPIAL athlete and Academic All-American swimmer at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Monda specializes in helping athletes to reach their potential in sport by improving their mental game. Dr. Monda is certified by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NCC), and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry. She received her PhD specializing in Sport and Exercise Psychology and a masters degree in Counseling from West Virginia University where she worked with the life skills program for WVU Athletics. Dr. Monda works with collegiate, professional, and developmental level teams and athletes. She has written extensively on issues related to student-athlete development, leadership, and mental skills training and was invited to present her work at the annual NCAA convention in 2012 as well as other conferences across the nation. Prior to her career in sport psychology, Dr. Monda was a swim coach for over 10 years.
In sport, we spend a lot of time training physically – running, lifting, conditioning our bodies –but in order to perform well we also need to be MENTALLY prepared. To achieve our best we also need to have strong mental skills such as being able to focus under pressure, act confidently, overcome mistakes, and stay motivated. Often times this mental toughness is perceived to be a trait that athletes either naturally have or they don’t, but my philosophy is that mental skills can be learned and developed through deliberate practice. Working on mental skills is a normal and necessary part of training and it does not mean that there is anything wrong. Rather, by working on your mental skills, it means you are setting yourself up to achieve your potential!
My approach to peak performance is holistic and developmental. My goal is to help athletes to develop the skills to be successful not only in sport but in life. The same skills that help an athlete to stay focused on the field, court, pool, or rink are also the same skills that will help an athlete to be successful in the classroom or in their first job. My job is to help athletes build these skills and learn to transfer them from one domain to another.
1. Develop a relationship with my clients. For mental training to be effective, it is important for my clients to feel that they have a person that they can trust and talk to. In my interactions with clients I strive to be approachable, ethical, and professional. As a teacher and former coach, my style tends to be more interactive and I often engage clients in activities and demonstrations to help facilitate skill building.
2. Assessment. In order to know where to go, we have to figure out where we are starting. During the initial session, our goal is to identify an athlete’s ideal mental mindset, current strengths, and potential growth points.
3. Engage in skill building. The goal of our sessions is to teach clients how to capitalize on their strengths and overcome the mental obstacles that they may face. During sessions, clients will develop a set of “mental tools” that can be put in their “mental skills toolbox” for use in situations outside of the session. Skill building may involve learning to break negative thought patterns, staying focused in the present moment, visualizing success, and letting go of mistakes.
4. Reinforce new habits. Just like learning any other skill, mental training does not happen overnight. It takes practice, reinforcement, and adjustment to find out what works and what needs tweaked. My role is to encourage clients as they work on their mental training, help them to recognize the small successes, and assist them in maintaining their motivation as they develop new habits.