Mastering the Psychology of Sport

Mastering the Psychology of Sport

Former Tommie Ashley Duguay is Helping Athletes and Teams Reach their Goals

Ashley Duguay is using psychology to help athletes and sports teams reach their goals.

The Saint John, NB, resident, who played five seasons with the Tommies women's hockey team, is a mental skills consultant for athletes and teams who are looking for help mastering the psychological and group dynamics sides of sports.

"I work with athletes and sports teams to help them reach their personal performance goals, whether it's to increase their satisfaction or how much fun they're having, or to strive for excellence in terms of success—however they define it," she said.

"I work to help athletes increase their psychological skills like imagery use, goal setting, and self-talk, as well as help teams work better as a unit."

After completing her studies at St. Thomas, Duguay earned a master of Education degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, a master of Human Kinetics from the University of Windsor and is currently working toward her PhD in Kinesiology with a focus on sport and exercise psychology.

Through her experience as an elite athlete, Duguay saw first-hand the amount of time dedicated to the development of physical skills and also discovered the importance of honing your mental skills—something that was reinforced during her studies.

"You can be the most talented athlete in the world, but if you fall apart under pressure or you don't have the confidence to put your physical skills into play, you aren't going to be able to reach your peak performance," she said.

"Being able to work on those mental skills is really important to complement your physical training and abilities."

Her interest in sport and exercise psychology was sparked during her time on the ice with the Tommies and through conversations with head coach Peter Murphy.

"Peter would always encourage me to do a bit of research into different things, like what team factors or individual factors help the team succeed. In doing that, I became interested in athlete and team leadership, as well as sport and exercise psychology."

This year, Duguay was back on campus working with a number of the Tommies teams. Her return to St. Thomas has reinvigorated her commitment to research and working with athletes.

"It's been great to be able to give back a little bit," she said. "To be able to come back and work with Tommies athletes to help them to achieve their goals—no matter what it is—has been really rewarding."

Once she completes her PhD, Duguay hopes to work as a professor while she continues consulting with athletes and teams in Atlantic Canada.