Certified Mental Performance Consultants (CMPCs) are experts in maximizing performance by channeling the mind. CMPCs, also called mental skills trainers, work on things like improving focus, concentration, and attention control. Streamers of video games requires sustained attention and extended periods of focus. However, distractions often arise, both externally and internally. External distractions are things like chat interactions, social media notifications, or even background noise in the streamer’s setting. Internal distractions are things like self-doubt or intrusive thoughts. A mental skills trainer can help to enhance one’s focus and concentration ability. More on that later!
The core foundation of mental skills training is awareness building. This will allow the gamer to improve their performance long after they work with the performance consultant. However, it is necessary to start that work with the consultant in order to learn what to be aware of and what to do with it. For example, one should pay attention to their thoughts, feelings and sensations during the two extremes of their performance. Then they can see what the differences are between poor and peak performances. Once a streamer starts to take note of these, a mental skills trainer can help them be more intentional about their performance and replace maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and sensations with those more pertinent to peak performance.
Fear of Negative Evaluation
A common issue that many deal with in performance is fear of negative evaluation. This is where the performer knows that there are eyes watching them. This incites fear that they will be seen as poorly skilled. The issue with this is that it turns into intrusive thoughts that take away valuable attentional capacity. Unlike traditional sports, where spectators are often not able to be heard on an individual basis, streamers can see every comment from their viewers. Additionally, since there is much more anonymity online, people are more likely to say hurtful things.
This turns into a snowball effect. The streamer becomes more worried about what their audience will say and think about him and are not able to focus on playing to their maximum potential. This creates a type of self-fulfilling prophecy, where the streamer plays well below their skill level because they are thinking too much about not playing poorly. In worst-case scenarios, the spiral can end up with the gamer feeling anxiety before, during, and after their streams. This could affect them in other areas of their lives.
A mental skills trainer can help the streamer deal with this and move past it. They can teach things like thought-stopping. The basics of this involve becoming aware of maladaptive thoughts as they happen and stopping them from spiraling further. Reframing is also a great technique. That same thought can be reframed as more positive. For example, if the thought is, “Everyone will think I suck if I don’t get 10 kills this game,” it can be reframed to “I would like to get 10 kills this game, so I need to focus on my centering and scanning.” The latter has thoughts that lead to actions more relevant to performance.
Stress and Anxiety Management
Fear of Negative Evaluation is not the only source of anxiety in streamers. Gamers have to deal with things that cause stress like being in high-pressure situations, dealing with toxic teammates, and not always being in control of a number of variables that affect the outcome of their matches. A CMPC can help the gamer deal with just what is in front of them, and only what they can control. Anxiety is usually caused by uncontrollable thoughts, and the mental skills trainer works on helping to let go of thoughts out of one’s control.
It starts awareness. Many times performance starts to fail when the feelings of anxiety get overwhelming. However, what many people don’t think about is what led up to this moment. A mental skills trainer will work with the streamer to start discovering and listing out the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that lead up to the overwhelming anxiety. They may not always eliminate it completely, but they can help get it to a more manageable level.
From there, breathing techniques are one way to deal with stress and anxiety. Breathing techniques are able to bring back the sense of control that can be lost when people get anxious. The breath work is an intentional act by the gamer that they decide on the length and intensity of. When done prior to playing, breathing techniques set a tone of coolness and control. When done between matches, sets, or spawns, they can help the streamer reset themselves and move on from the issue that caused them to get overwhelmed in the first place.
The Dual Role of a Streamer
Video game streamers face the unique challenge of conducting two types of performances simultaneously. They have to perform in the game they are playing. This on its own can take intense concentration. And mediocrity for the most part is not acceptable for viewers. The streamer does not necessarily have to be elite at the game. Nevertheless, they do need to be well above average to gain the respect of their viewers. This involves things like pulling off headshots in shooting games, intricate combos in fighter games, and can even involve collaborating with teammates in game that are separate from their streaming audience.
However, it doesn’t end there. A streamer can be the best player in the world but are unlikely to keep their viewer county up unless they also work on performing to their audience. They need to know how and when to seamlessly shift from full-on game focus, to completely engaging their audience. They need to have charisma and verbally respond to what people they can’t actually see typing into the chat. This takes valuable attentional capacity away from peak performance in the game. It becomes an art form to know when to switch between the two and can be exhausting to do so.
Enter a mental skills trainer. These are professionals that are well versed in how to work out attention as a muscle. They can help to increase the ability to focus on both tasks for longer periods of time. A performance consultant can also make the rapid switching between gaming and entertaining more seamless. There are tools used like number lines to practice, as well as just making sure thoughts are constantly in the right place.
A challenge in the streaming space is building and maintaining confidence. Even those who come into the space with high confidence will be continuously tested. The dual nature of the performance of working on the craft of entertaining while gaming means that it will be a constant balancing act of getting better at the game while engaging the audience. They may have friends or colleagues that focus just on gaming. Or, someone they know may be much less skilled at the game, but have a naturally engaging personality that helps them to quickly grow their streaming audience. Not only that, toxic people in the chat can deliver deep-cutting blows that make a person question themselves and their path.
All of these combined can cause confidence in the streamer to plummet, affecting the quality of their performance. Luckily CMPCs are experts in helping to improve and stabilize confidence for gamers and streamers. Thought-stopping can again be used again here. A mental skills trainer can also dig even deeper and teach the sources of confidence. In performance psychology, the literature talks about the four sources of confidence. If a streamer is absent in an area they can work on seeking out that type of confidence.
Performance accomplishments relates to past successes. It can include things like winning matches or tournaments, the number of kills in a game, or pulling off new combos. Vicarious experiences come from watching others perform successfully. In gaming, this could be something like watching a film of another successful gamer and then mimicking their style or moves. Verbal persuasion has to do with others encouraging the person. This might come from a coach or teammate. Physiological states pertains to the gamer’s immediate state of mind. Being hungry or tired can significantly decrease a person’s confidence.
Goal Setting and Setbacks
One of the keys to becoming a streamer is to set specific, measurable goals. These can be things like subscribers, viewers, or revenue. They will also have to set goals for improving in the game, like KO counts or match wins. These are all important goals, but sometimes it can be difficult to get a baseline for what a good number is. Without a good baseline or guidance, streamers might set unrealistic expectations for themselves, and get discouraged when they do not meet their lofty goal.
A CMPC can help the streamer make their goals specific and attainable, but also help them deal with the setback of not attaining a goal. The goals mentioned above are considered outcome goals. These are goals that focus on the result. Without setting smaller goals that lead up to them, it will not only be more difficult to reach the outcome goals, but it will be demoralizing and seem like their entire efforts are wasted. Smaller process goals are important to set as well. These goals are things like the number of times they want to stream per week and for how long. It can also be something like practicing off-stream on specific skills for a certain amount of time per week.
Finally, streamers should also think about the “why” in terms of the goals they set. A mental skills trainer can work with the streamer on digging into the reasons why they want to stream in the first place. Times will get tough and simply focusing on the analytics and numbers of streaming has caused many streamers to get frustrated and burnt out. A streamer remembering their why will help them work through times like that. Working closely with a CMPC can help to prevent this.
Fostering Healthy Relationships and Life Balance
An important part of streaming is relationship building. This includes their viewers and fellow gamers. A CMPC can teach the streamer valuable skills like active listening, how to express empathy and give tips on how to resolve conflicts constructively. Overall what is going to keep people coming back to a stream is the sense of community they feel with the environment. Being good at the game, and even having charisma only goes so far. One must be inclusive and work actively to combat toxic behavior so that everyone feels safe and welcome. Working with a mental skills trainer will help the gamer work on the traits necessary to grow and keep an audience around.
These same skills are needed with building connections with fellow streamers. Streamers are bombarded with messages from those aspiring to do what they do. An approach that communicates a desire for collaboration, rather than transactions can help both sides improve their audience. A streamer needs to know how to approach others when attempting partnerships.
Work-life balance plays right into healthy relationships. A streamer needs to have a healthy relationship with themselves. Successful streaming necessitates the use of social media. However, a streamer must also recognize social media’s potential negative effects on mental health. Similarly, having one’s entire identity invested in being a gamer or streamer is also dangerous. Once it becomes a job, there could be a reframing of this identity. What used to be done for fun can change to be done to make a living, causing a person to feel less control over themselves and their lives. They need to have a life outside of gaming and streaming. A CMPC is an excellent tool to navigate through this.
The Benefits of a Streamer Working with a CMPC
Streaming is a booming career path for gamers. But it is not a straightforward path and can be mentally exhausting to navigate. Luckily a CMPC can help. They are experts in training the mind to maximize performance. CMPCs teach valuable performance-enhancement skills that apply to both gaming and streaming. They can help a streamer deal with things like performance anxiety and fear of negative evaluation. A mental skills trainer also assists with building and maintaining confidence. This can be done with skills like thought-stopping or reframing, as well as with learning about the sources of confidence.
Furthermore, a CMPC can help the streamer navigate through the stresses of building an audience and community. While working with their performance coach, the streamer will learn how to build awareness of themselves and how their surroundings affect them. They will improve their ability to deal with criticism and toxicity. They will also learn how to build community with their viewers and fellow streamers. Finally, a CMPC will work with the streamer to ensure that their entire identity does not hinge upon streaming and gaming.