“Anybody can become angry — that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power, and is not easy.” —Aristotle An essential element of sport psychology is dealing with the emotions that come with competitive athletics. Whether you are an athlete, a coach, a referee, a parent, or a fan, the higher the level of competition, the higher the emotional level can become. And the higher the emotional level, the more important it becomes to control and manage those emotions. One exercise I lead my athletes through is to identify which emotions help their performance and which emotions hurt their performance. For a vast majority of my clients, there are more emotions that negatively affect how they play than positively affect. This awareness is key to developing strategies to handle the negative emotions, and even use them for your benefit. There are some emotions that athletes identify that sometimes help and sometimes hurt their performance. Among them: aggressiveness, caution, stubbornness, and surprise. But by far, the most common is anger. Athletes describe it this way: “Sometimes I get angry and it makes me focus and play better. Sometimes I get angry and it makes me play erratic and out of control.” That is important information to know, and to come up with a plan to make sure you harness your anger for positive, instead of letting the anger control you and your actions. If we take Aristotle’s quote above, let’s examine these questions: Who Are You Angry With? This is a big factor in whether anger is [...]
Developing a High Performance Lifestyle (part 1 - avoiding burnout) By Jimmy Yoo, MA Sport Psychology As a mental skills coach at SPINw, I help athletes attain a consistent high performance mindset through sport psychology techniques like focus, goal setting, visualization. A high performance mindset is not something that is turned on one minute and off the next. It is more consistent than that. Therefore, I help athletes dedicate everyday to a high performance lifestyle, both on and off the field. Lifestyle can be defined as "the typical way of life of an individual, group, or culture." It's basically your habits - how you do things under pressure. Some of my athletes are professionals, who make a living at playing sports. But most are only part-time athletes, who are also students, parents, performing artists, doctors, teachers, etc., and often many of these. It's good to bring your “A-Game” everyday - not necessarily that you will win every time at everything, but that you consistently perform at a high level. Anyone can benefit from developing a high performance lifestyle, both on and off the field. This doesn’t mean perfection: that in every moment of your life, you are competing to be the best at everything you do, like being being the best student, athlete, or employee at all times. This type of focus is not ideal because you are constantly comparing yourself to others. This type of focus is out of your control. If you are too focused on comparing yourself to others, being the best, being perfect, you are not focusing on the necessary skills and strategies to effectively perform the task at hand. To achieve a high performance mindset each day, it is important to focus on the little things that [...]
DID YOU KNOW ONE OF THE NATION’S TOP WATER SKIERS LIVES IN HILLSBORO… AND HE’S IN HIS 60’s? Tom Carey credits SPINw book with helping him become a top 10 slalom water skier in the US January 22, 2016, Portland, OR . . . It’s not often that a $20 book can transform your life, career and propel you to the top of national rankings in a sport. But for champion water skier and Oregonian Tom Carey, that’s exactly what reading “The Sports Mindset Gameplan” did for him. An athlete since the age of five, Carey had competed in various sports, and at age 60, he decided to take a different tack for competing at the 2014 U.S. National Water Ski Championships. Although he was always ambitious, he had never gotten the results he wanted while competing at the annual championships. This year, he committed to doing more than showing up. The winter before the competition, a few copies of “The Sports Mindset Gameplan” showed up at his Beaverton facility Bio Force Youth Fitness. He grabbed on and went through it in meticulous detail, page by page, using it as his workbook. By the end, his goal was set to place in the top 10. And so, at the age of 60, when most people are seriously settling in to the thought of retirement, Carey competed and emerged in 6th place in the men’s slalom event. “The Sports Mindset Gameplan,” written by Portland sports psychology consultant and SPINw director Brian Baxter, MA. It’s an interactive workbook designed for all athletes, from beginning to recreational to elite, and puts the mental focus back into physical training and performance. “This is exactly what we had hoped the [...]
Come join us at Evolution Healthcare and Fitness in SE Portland on February 28th at 5pm for a mental game workshop. (Click here to register) How many times have you heard someone tell you what a huge component the mental game is in your particular sport? Well, they were right! You spend hours each week training your body to perform at it's highest level. But how do you prepare your mind? The mental game often separates the good athletes from the great ones, and the great ones from the elite. This workshop will address confidence, mental toughness, focus, and more, to help you perform up to your potential when the pressure is on. As the Director of SPINw here in Portland, Brian works with athletes and teams of all ages and skills levels on the mental game. He is excited to bring these sport psychology techniques to the athletes at Evolution! Copies of his workbook for athletes, The Sports Mindset Gameplan, will be available at a discounted rate to participants. (Click here to register)
I do a regular interview with Michael Austin from Basketball Coach Weekly. Coaches often ask me about team motivation techniques, and what sport psychology skills they can use with their athletes. In this most recent interview, (which I particularly enjoyed) I address the answer to those questions in terms of how coaches can spot and help correct a player who is in a slump. Check it out!
Recently I was interviewed by ex-NFL player Isaac Byrd on his Unlocking the Minds of Athletes podcast. Isaac does great job interviewing professionals in the field, and I was honored to be a part of it. Check it out here. Quote: Henry Ford…Anything being possible 2 things to listen for: 1st, Brian talks about the importance of having awareness that a strong mentality is just as important as a strong body and 2nd, he mentions 3 key components to be aware of that will immediately help your mental-game. Scenario: He details certain techniques athletes can use to keep a strong and positive mindset when dealing with a major injury. Training Round: He talks about a technique he teaches his athletes called ‘Filtered Listening’ and he goes into great detail about what that is and how you can use it in any sport.
No, not a sixth sense of being able to see dead people like in the movie... but more like this dictionary.com definition: sixth sense - noun: a power of perception beyond the five senses; intuition: "His sixth sense warned him to be cautious." As an athlete or a coach, do you ever have a feeling that you know what's going to happen next? Or after something has happened, thinking "I knew that was going to happen!" Do you ever make decisions based on a "gut feeling?" That's the kind of sixth sense I am talking about. It's more about seeing things before they happen. Here's another way to look at "sense." If something "makes sense," we are talking about this definition: a sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems; a reasonable or comprehensible rationale. But sometimes sports makes no sense. How else to explain upsets, chokes, and record-breaking performances? Those "wow!" moments like Kirk Gibson's homerun, David Tyree's "helmet catch," or Tim Tebow winning an NFL playoff game (kidding, I'm a big Gator fan, so I can go there)? So what exactly is the sixth sense of sports? Belief, Confidence, Anticipation, Intuition, Trust, Faith? A combination of these? And can it be developed? We think so. Let's take a look at some other "Senses" - Sense of humor, sense of balance, sense of fairness Like these, the sixth sense in sports, well, makes no "sense." Sense of humor is just that - a sense of what's funny. It's not all the same for all people and there is definitely no formula to it. Jerry Seinfeld has a certain sense of humor, and so does Adam Carolla. Both are very funny, but in different senses. [...]
*This article was recently published in the Portland Triathlon Club Newsletter* For endurance athletes, the mental game is as important, if not more so, than the physical game for competition. A strong mental game gives the athlete the best chance to succeed before the race starts, and during the race itself. Sports psychology includes having a good pre-race routine, implementing strategies for how to handle the ups and downs of a race - the pain, and the rigors of competition, and strategies for winning the battle in the athlete's mind - the battle between all the reasons to quit, versus all the reasons to keep going. But there can also be a potential post-race psychological competent too. Known most commonly as "post-race depression", it is less frequent of an issue as the pre-race or during race issues, but no less difficult to deal with. Post-race depression is a build up of focus, concentration, sacrifice, hard-work, and anticipation that has a very abrupt end. It can be mentally and emotionally draining. Physical changes include hormone and chemistry changes. All of this can make an athlete wonder "what is going on?!" It's important to know that post race depression is pretty normal! We sometimes experience let downs after big events, and it can be part of the process. While the experience of these emotions are normal, that doesn't make it any less comfortable. Here are some sport psychology techniques that can help soften the blow: Goal Setting - Goal setting, when done correctly, is a continuous process. It does not end with the A-race, or the end of a season. There is a logical next step to focus on when done. After a big race, athletes can [...]
Football season is underway, and as part of our book review series, SPINw suggest you check out this inspiring book, Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow. It's not common for a 23 year old to write an autobiography, but then again, he is not your common athlete. Tebow is one mentally tough athlete - see how his goals, attitude, and work-rate led him to the NFL. He may be considered third string at the moment, but after reading this book, it's hard to doubt he'll eventually win the starting job.
The border between Dr. Pirozzolo's baseball work and his golf work is remarkably fluid. "It really is all the same. It comes down to your ability to find the motor programs you need under pressure, by blocking out of all the distractions," he told me this week. "As the competitions get bigger and bigger, like the World Series, or the Masters and the U.S. Open, there is more noise to deal with, white noise as well as meaningful challenges and threats. Mental toughness is clearly the key. The tougher you are, the easier it is to control your central nervous system and your peripheral nervous system, to control your stress response and make adaptations."