Aimee Kimball has spent 15 years in the NHL focused on getting people — and, in turn, entire organizations — into the best shape they can be. But not just in the traditional sense.

Kimball specializes in mental training and player development, earning her PhD from the University of Tennessee, where she specialized in sports psychology. Her role in the NHL varied slightly at her previous stops in Pittsburgh and New Jersey, but her basic job has remained the same: Her mission is to find new and efficient ways for players to develop and grow while creating a culture of success.

Her latest venture is with the Washington Capitals. Kimball, 43, was named the team’s senior director of team and organizational development Monday. Her role will emphasize three categories: player development, mental skills training and prospect evaluation.

“I’m someone who can help them become mentally stronger,” Kimball said. “What I think many of the athletes realize is they often get to this point based on skill and this might be one of the first challenges they face, and it is helpful to have somebody to teach them how to manage stress or teach them how to deal with being scratched for the first time in their life.”

Kimball started in the NHL as a mental training consultant for Pittsburgh, where she spent 10 years. She then moved to New Jersey as the director of player and team development for five years. She left the Devils in June and sent her résumé to NHL clubs. The Capitals quickly contacted her; they emphasized that she offered something they had been searching for.

“A lot of times teams are very siloed with how they do things and very few people cut across all the different areas, so I think that is what makes this a pretty unique role, that I touch a lot of different parts of hockey operations,” Kimball said. “All those silos don’t help all the time; you need to be able to connect the dots, and I think it is a great role for NHL teams to have because it allows me to have the big picture and also focus on the smaller details.”

Washington has been working on the development side of the organization for years, trying to add staff and increase efficiency. The Capitals experimented, trying to find something the entire organization was comfortable with. This included a part-time employee working mainly with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pa.

Kimball will be the Capitals’ first full-time employee in this role.

“To a certain degree I thought we were successful, but I never thought we got to the level we’d like to get to on development, the mental aspects of the game,” General Manager Brian MacLellan said. “ … I think now we feel fortunate to get someone with that experience, someone that has done it in a couple organizations and someone that is really good at what she does.”

Kimball’s hire has its nuances. She is not a licensed psychologist, so her role is not placed in a mental health bucket; it’s instead called mental performance.

Mental health has more to do with diagnosable issues such as an anxiety disorder or addiction, Kimball said. Those are concerns that the team would refer to another party. Kimball focuses on helping players transition to higher levels and making sure they are getting the most out of themselves — for instance, by working through pregame nerves or getting in the right mental space before practices or games.

Kimball said she finds that younger players appreciate having someone around whom they can talk to and navigate the early stages of their careers with. For veterans, sometimes it is about helping them with leadership or working through a changing role.

“I love working with the younger ones because I just think how close they are to reaching their goals and I help with that in some way,” Kimball said. “I think it is personally fulfilling to give them that guidance and give them assistance so they can make the team and be successful.

“I also enjoy working with the veterans, too, because I learn so much from them and their experience. … I think sometimes people think it’s easier for the older players who have done this for eight, nine years, and it is not always easy. They struggle, too.”

Over the years, Kimball and others in hockey have seen a progression in how sports psychology and mental training are viewed. They are not something that only athletes with specific issues use; they are now seen as another step in an athlete’s evolution.

“I think players are more open to that aspect of training and their performance and improving that part of the way they handle the game,” MacLellan said. “It’s the maturity around the game off the ice versus just physical training. I think it is growing, and I think the main result is the players are more accepting of that aspect of it.”

That acceptance has led to more teams adding staffers such as Kimball. She thinks her role in Washington will develop as she immerses herself.

“To me, development is always asking the question, ‘How can we get better?’ And for me in my role, I will always be asking: ‘How can you as an individual get better? How can the team get better? How can us as an organization get better?’ And then try to solve those problems,” she said. “ … Then I can create some structure and systems around that so it is easier to do that and make sure everyone is using the great resources that are here in Washington to help them through that process.”

Read more from The Post: