Perform Under Pressure

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Anger and Performance: Sport Psychology Techniques for dealing with extreme emotions

“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 [...]

Sport Psychology of Shot Put

SPINw Consultant Eric Bergreen was a national champion shot putter at UCLA. We recently asked him to comment on this article discussing Michelle Carter's mental training. Here's what he had to say: As a former shot putter I was thrilled to see Chris Chavez of Sports Illustrated interview Michelle Carter to discuss her success after the 2016 Olympic gold win. The shot put might not be glamorous to many but it is far from “playing fetch with yourself.” To be the best you have to have great technical talent and the ability to manage high pressure situations. I think you might agree that the Olympics is about as high pressure as it gets for an athlete. Michelle Carter, daughter of Michael Carter, not only has tremendous physicality in her genes, but understands the type of physical and mental training required to be her best. In the interview she discusses utilizing a sport psychiatrist to help her learn how to max out her mental strength. She uses techniques such as Imagery and self -talk to control the chatter in her head that often leads to ineffective thoughts. She visualized her competition and normalized the experience stating “I throw against these girls all the time. She visualized the setting she would be in, the feeling of the stadium and the intensity of the crowd. She visualized being in a calm energetically balanced state of being. This type of mental rehearsal can train the mind to experience upcoming events as if you have done it a thousand times before. That leads to amazing confidence. Michelle has a fantastic ability to keep her mind on the controllable factors and stop thinking about the problems she may face with her [...]

It’s 90% Mental! Workshop on February 28, 2016

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)

Is there a ‘sixth sense’ in sports?

No, not a sixth sense of being able to see dead people like in the movie... but more like this 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. [...]

The Mentality of an Amazing Goal

Portland Timbers midfielder and captain Jack Jewsbury tied the score last weekend with this incredible volley. Here's what was going through his mind: “It’s just one of those where [the ball] just pops up in the air, and I’m trying to concentrate as much as I can as it falls down and make solid contact,” Jewsbury said of his 79th-minute savior. “Sometimes on the easier, clear-cut chances the more you think [the worse you strike the ball]. And when you just react and let your instincts take over, sometimes they do [go in].” Good point about letting your instincts take over vs thinking too long. Focusing on the ball and your technique is the best way to block out negative thoughts and other distractions.

By | 2012-08-08T14:14:29-07:00 August 8th, 2012|Perform Under Pressure|0 Comments

The Olympics – Four years of training for one moment!

In my mind, the most amazing element of the Olympic games is this one.  The best of the best athletes in the world come together to compete to be Olympic champions.  For some sports, like basketball and soccer, there is a tournament, so athletes get to compete over the course of a couple days or weeks.  But for others, like track and field, triathalon, and boxing, there may only one chance to compete - one mistake and you're done.Imagine the pressure!At SPINw, we've worked with athletes in many of the Olympic sports: basketball volleyball cycling equestrian fencing soccer swimming tennis track and field triathalon wrestling Althought these sports have entirely different skills sets, training regimens, body types, etc., the mental components are the same!  We help athletes deal with this type pressure every day.  Through focusing exercises, breathing techinques, and visualization, among others, we teach athletes the mental skills they need to succeed.As you watch the games this summer, remember to take a few moments to think about the mental part of this competition, and how it compares to you and your sport.

By | 2012-07-12T02:43:15-07:00 July 12th, 2012|Perform Under Pressure|0 Comments

Evan Longoria and the mental game

A couple of my athletes brought this story to my attention recently (scroll down for video).  They both say it was the reason they finally decided to seek out SPINw to help their mental game.  "If it worked for Evan Longoria, I thought I should give it a try," one said.Athletes across all sports face, for the most part, the same mental challenges - pressure to perform, pressure to win, dealing with a slump, returning from injury, etc.   When athletes are confident and things are going well, and they are "in the zone,"  the game seems slower and manageable.  When overthinking and excess emotions occur, the game tends to speed up, as Longoria notes here:"It could have been the pressure I was puttting on myself, maybe it was the outside distractions that I let get to me.... Things kind of sped up on me.  I think that was part of the whole experience for me, was learning those feelings." - Evan Longoria on going 1 for 20 in the World Series.    Check out this ESPN video about his work with sport psychologist Ken Ravizza...The video ends on a great note, touching on the need to make the mental game second nature. The reporter asks: "Do you think there will be a day when you don't need a focal point? When you don't need mental exercises that you do?""No, I don't think there will be. Because as soon as you start believing that in this game, you'll get humbled in a heartbeat.  I'll always have that in the back of mind, and when I need it, use it." was his reply.Interested in trying out sport psychology?  Contact us! You can also check out Ken Ravizza's book, [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:06-07:00 June 5th, 2012|Perform Under Pressure|0 Comments

Beating the Heat – The Mental Approach

While most of the country has been in summer weather mode for a month or more, the Pacific Northwest summer typically starts in July. This year, we've had especially little time to transition, going from temperatures in the 50's to the 80's in what seems like the blink of an eye. Of course, you know the need to hydrate and eat right (if not, here's a good article), to wear sunscreen and the proper gear, all the physical elements of battling the heat, but what about the mental aspects? As a coach, every time a player said "It's sooo hot!" all I heard was"Hey coach, I have an excuse to not play hard!" The mentally strong athlete treats the heat like another opponent: Not something to be feared and run away from, but something to look straight in the face and conquer. Here are a couple sport psych standbys, tailored to the heat: -Focus! - You could focus on the heat, but why? You don't have any control over it. Focus on what you do have control over: preparation, attitude, and effort -Positive self-talk:“ During uncomfortable moments, it's natural to think negatively about a situation. But mentally strong athletes think positive thoughts and find the positives in any situation. "ugh, it's hot, this stinks!" becomes: "this heat is only making me stronger“ keep it up!" - Visualization: “ Remember that if you are hot, your teammates and most likely your opponents are too. See yourself leading your teammates, and outlasting the competition Athletes, want to work more on your mental game to boost your confidence this summer? Coaches, looking for ways to add to your team's experience and get that extra edge? Contact SPINw to [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:06-07:00 July 7th, 2011|Perform Under Pressure|0 Comments

Slumping at work? What would Jack do?

After years in sales, Dan Di Cio, a Pittsburgh account executive, was aiming for "a breakout season" selling high-tech equipment. But even working longer hours and weekends, he kept falling short of his goals. Watching other salespeople win awards, he asked himself early this year: "Why can't I be that guy?" To boost his self confidence during the recession, real-estate broker Tim Stowell, copied some tactics used by golfer Jack Nicklaus to improve the mental side of his game.Mr. Di Cio, a big baseball fan, recalled how Major League pitcher John Smoltz got help on his mental game to pull out of a slump in 1991. Mr. Di Cio contacted sports psychologist Gregg Steinberg after hearing him speak and, with his help, Mr. Di Cio learned that he was working so hard that he risked driving his numbers even lower. Dr. Steinberg says he prescribed the same remedy many pro athletes embrace: Stop overworking and allow yourself to relax. Josh Anderson for The Wall Street Journal 

By | 2010-12-18T04:03:28-07:00 December 18th, 2010|Perform Under Pressure|0 Comments