This month, the SPINw team presented a sport psychology workshop to the members of the Skating Club of Oregon (SCORE). Ice skaters can spend up to 650 hours a year training for only 42 minutes of competition! So the pressure these young athletes face can be immense. SPINw consultants Brian Baxter, Elliott Waksman, and Jimmy Yoo worked with the parents, skaters, and coaches, respectively, to address the mental aspects of skating under pressure.To have SPINw put on a workshop for your organization, call us at 1-866-300-1515.
Mark Mcneille at Transworld Business has written a great article about SpinW trainer Jimmy Yoo's recent work with the Windells Academy on Mount Hood. Here is an excerpt: Windells Academy is teaming with Sports Psychology Institute Northwest on a newly launched program for its student athletes. Portland-based Sports Psychology Instituteâ€™s program is designed to give Windells student athletes the tools to improve their mental approach to sports and to bring balance to their overall lifestyle. For over a decade, SPINW has worked successfully with athletes, parents and coaches to achieve consistent peak performance. Sports Psychology Institute NW trainer Jimmy Yoo is working with both students and coaches on its Competitive Skills Training for Athletes Program (CST). CST is a conditioning of the mind to become mentally tuned and is designed to enhance overall performance. Training includes working on confidence building by teaching visualization techniques, focus and self-talk, breathing techniques, goal setting and time management. According to Yoo â€œAll athletes â€“ competitive and recreational â€“ can benefit from mental skills training to achieve consistent peak performance. These skills enable many to establish balance in their lives and to ultimately enjoy what they are doing to a greater degree. Read the full article here.
In working with young athletes, I come across some amazing parents! The stereotype of the sports parent is not always a pleasant one, and I think it's highly undeserved a majority of the time. Most of the parents that bring their young athletes to SPINw to help their mental game are super supportive and caring, and want to see their kids enjoying their sports to the fullest.It's no secret that today's youth sports environment is vastly different from the one that most parents grew up in. It's more competitive and specialized, and puts a lot of unneeded pressure on young athletes. I was lucky to have Tom Morin as a professor when I was in graduate school, and am excited to recommend to you his book, No More Broken Eggs. And not just because I make a brief, albeit uncredited appearance on page 57 :)As the subtitle suggests, it's a Guide to Optimizing the Sports Experience for Athletes, Coaches, and Parents. Half of the chapters deals with a real life story of an athlete Tom worked with, and the other half contains tips for athletes, parents, coaches, and sport psychology consultants. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is involved with youth sports.
It is essential that an athlete be able to evaluate their performance so they can recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their performance. More importantly, it is essential to understand how these individual skills come together to create an overall performance. Even the most skilled athletes recognize that there is always room for improvement. The key is not letting these self-evaluations decrease confidence. Take tennis player Roger Federer, a strong player who realistically evaluates his performance. He knows the skills he needs to work on, yet he does not let this distract him from his game. There are 3 common trends for self-evaluation. 1. Athletes who recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and understand how their skill set impacts their overall performance. They do not let this interfere with their overall confidence. Instead, they utilize this information to set new goals and provide motivation for continued improvement. This also allows for more thorough preparation for competition as athletes often compare their skill set to that of their opponents to strategize. 2. Athletes who recognize only their strengths. While this may enhance confidence, itâ€™s not a realistic picture of oneâ€™s performance. Athletes may focus all their energy on the positive; however, this makes it difficult to set personal goals for improvement. Also, this makes it difficult to prepare for competition. 3. Athletes who only recognize their weaknesses. This results in low confidence. Also, if an athlete only focuses on what they do wrong it can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. This may also make a sport less enjoyable and increase frustration, which ultimately may lead to quitting. What category do you fall into? Not sure? Or do you recognize a need for a change? Maybe you drift [...]
Ever walk into a practice to see athletes joking around only to see the complete opposite on game day? What is wrong with this situation? No, it's not the joking around. It's the inconsistency between practice and competition. While this may seem like a small thing, it matters! Whatever tricks an athlete uses to help themselves focus should be utilized in both practice and competition to increase their effectiveness. And in all actuality this applies to both athletes and coaches! Contrary to popular belief there is no switch that is flipped on game day that gets everyone focused and motivated.So how do you find consistency? Start by making a few lists. 1. Write down what you do pre-practice and pre-competition to focus and amp yourself up.2. Write what you do during practice and during competition to maintain focus and energy.3. Write what you do post practice and post competition to relax and reflect. Notice any differences? Notice any skills missing?Now comes the hard work...breaking old habits and developing performance enhancement routines! The more practice and competition routines are in sync the better the performance. Example: If a gymnast uses imagery in competition before performing on beam, but not in practice. This may help them focus during competition; however, by not utilizing in practice this athlete is not reaching their full potential. By using imagery in practice they will be able to develop and push their skills further, which means an even stronger performance in competition.Need help developing a more consistent routine? Contact SPINW!About the Author: Lisa Peetz received an M.A. in Sports and Exercise Psychology. Lisa is an avid runner who appreciates and is addicted to marathon running. She uses her athletic experience in her mental skills [...]
Welcome to 2011! Have you set a New Year's Resolution (or 12)? Have you kept them? Have you already written any off as impossible? Have you ever wondered why New Year's Resolutions so seldom stick? The New Year's Resolution is about changing human behavior, which is no easy feat (Trying to change it in the days after staying out all night and having a little too much champagne doesn't make it any easier!). Setting New Year's Resolutions is but one form of goal setting. The reasons that athletes fail to achieve their goals are the same reasons people in all walks of life may fail using the New Year's Resolution to change habits and lifestyle. In sport psychology research and literature, goal setting is the most consistently proven factor in facilitating peak performance. However, when goals are not set properly, they are not as effective as they could be, and can even be counter-productive. Whether setting a New Year's Resolution, or just a goal in general, here are the main reasons that goal may fail: 1) Too general 2) Too hard or unrealistic 3) Doesn't account for unexpected events 4) No consistent check in 5) Lack of support system Let's take a common example of a New Year's Resolution that is well intentioned, but destined to fail. Goal: "I want to get in better shape this year." Sounds good, right - who wouldn't want that? But, as is, this goal is destined to fail because it is 1) too general. What does that goal mean? How is it measured? If you go running 1 time in 2010, compared to 2009, when you went running 0 times, you have accomplished your goal! However, I doubt this [...]
From Tony Schwartz, Six Keys to being Excellent at Anything Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we've found are most effective for our clients: 1. Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance. 2. Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That's when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions. 3. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 Ã‚Â½ hours a day. 4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously, however, can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning. 5. Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It's also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs. 6. Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you'll take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them â€” build specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that [...]
Myth #2 â€“ Sport Psychology is for people who are weak or struggling Here is a quick story about former North Carolina Tarheel basketball player Rashad McCants from Nov 2004: SI: When you were a freshman, Doherty asked you to meet "a friend" who turned out to be a sports psychologist. McCants: That was the most embarrassing moment of my life. It was an insult to me. Because I felt like I was too smart for someone to pick at my brain and say, "Well, you must have a problem." 'Cause I felt at the time that I wasn't the problem. The problem was beyond anybody's control, because it was with every player on the team. I just had it worse than everybody. I remember he said, "This is Dr. [Richard] Coop [a member of the UNC faculty]. He's a psychologist." I looked at him and said, "You didn't just send me to a psychologist and act like it was all right." I saw him twice simply because Coach asked me, and I'm loyal to my coaches. If he asks me to do something, I'll do it. SI: But your favorite class right now is a psychology class, so you must respect the study of it, right? McCants: It was just, how could he think or even dream of me needing a psychologist? You could ask anybody -- any Carolina fan -- my freshman year if I needed psychological help, those who read the papers would say yes. Those who watched the games live, who know me, will say get outta my face. SI: But you don't dismiss the idea of therapy being helpful to some people, do you? McCants: Not at all. It was very relaxing [...]
Sleep duration may be an important consideration for an athlete's daily training regimen. Read more
The following article got the wheels in my mind turning. I never really thought about asking my husband if I could run a marathon, let alone how he felt about me completing two this year. Thankfully he is supportive...so far! Quite often we get so caught up in our athletic endeavors that we forget to say "THANKS" to all the people that make our dreams possible. Also, we forget to take the time to really communicate with our supporters and see how our desires impact other important aspects of our lives. I often find miscommunication leads to a lack of balance between life and running, which can affect my performance. When was the last time you sat down and reviewed your goals with those standing in your corner? Are you open to their feedback and suggestions? Do you feel like you have the support you need to be successful? Personally, I have a large support team and I could not survive without them. My husband and fellow runners motivate me throughout my training. My trainer, chiropractor, and massage therapist help me fine-tune my physical self. While I have the sport psychology training to fine-tune my mind, I still rely on my fabulous colleagues to help me out of any mental ruts! When building your support team make sure it is well rounded. Most people will hire a trainer at the gym to enhance their physical performance, but they never think to seek out a professional to help them enhance their mental game. Mind and body need to be equally strong! As the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link! Do you feel balanced between sport and life? Do you feel balanced [...]