Hello world! My name is Jake Sivinski and I am a new intern here at SPINw! I’m super excited to announce that I will be updating the SPINw blog every week. My background as an athlete lies primarily in the winter sports world. I was a competitive freeskier for 7 years competing internationally all over the continent. My background in athletics and my passion for psychology has led me to SPINw, and for that I am grateful. For my first post I would like to tell the story about how I came to know about the field of Sports Psychology and the profound positive impact it has had on my life. Hope you enjoy! -Jake There’s something pretty weird about skiing in July. Every time I do it I feel like I am cheating nature, like stealing a cookie from winter’s proverbial cookie jar. But when the opportunity to ski in one of country's national parks pops up, sometimes you just have to take it. The date was July 1, 2009 and I was 15 years old. I was young and excited and coming off one of my best winters to date: a dangerous trio. To make matters even more dangerous I was with a large group of other 15 year olds who felt the exact same way. We had just built a nice big jump and were all attempting to learn new tricks in the soft summer slush on Chinook Pass in Rainier National Park. The trick of the day was a frontflip and nobody wanted to be the first to try it. Finally, I decided to go first, and well, it didn’t go very well. In fact, it ended in a fracture of both my [...]
Continuing our 5 Things You Need to Know About Sport Psychology... #1 - Sport Psychology is not “psychology” #2 - Sport Psychology is as much proactive measure as it is a reactive one we now bring you #3 - Sport Psychology is about Fun The reason that people play sports, coach sports, watch sports, and get their kids involved in sports boils down to one thing: having fun. Sure, there are other very valuable reasons - to be active, to meet new people, to be part of something bigger than yourself, to compete, to learn - but what is the common denominator for all these reasons? Because it's fun. Whether you are a young athlete, a professional athlete, a coach, or a sports parent, keeping this in mind is crucial to the athlete's performance and success. Young Athletes In study after study, survey after survey, fun is one of the top reason kids give for participating in youth sports is fun. But what is fun? According to a George Washington University study: "The 11 fun factors lie within the fundamental tenets and include Being a good sport, Trying hard, Positive coaching, Learning and improving, Game time support, Games, Practices, Team friendships, Mental bonuses, Team rituals, and Swag." Professional Athletes But is sports supposed to be 'fun' for the pros? Isn't it their job? Sometimes hard work isn't fun, right? Well, let's let a couple of professional athletes have to say about their participation in sports. Derek Jeter: "The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward." Lionel Messi: "Football is a game. I'm trying to have fun on [...]
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. [...]
Making The Holiday Season Your Resolution Season by Jimmy Yoo, SPINw Consultant Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together, and it is the start of the holiday season. For most people, the holidays also include enjoying a lot of food (like turkey, pie, and cookies) and drink (like pumpkin spiced lattes, hot cocoa with extra marshmallows, and winter ales). For many, late November and the month of December equate to binge eating, followed by January 1, the time to make a New Years Resolution. For many, the first thing that comes to mind is losing that extra weight we gained since Thanksgiving! An article by Leo Widrich, “The science of New Year’s Resolutions: Why 88% fail and how to make them work” (http://blog.bufferapp.com/the-science-of-new-years-resolutions-why-88-fail-and-how-to-make-them-work) discusses the difference between creating new habits versus creating a New Year’s Resolution. Widrich identifies that when people create a New Years Resolution they tend to pick an abstract goal, “The problem is clear, any abstract goal you have, that is not tied to a specific behavior is near impossible for your brain to focus on. Making it “instinctual”, which is the crucial aspect, that will help you achieve any new habits, is missing in 90% of all New Year’s Resolutions, which makes them so likely to fail.” Widrich sites that the key to a successful resolution is: to make a goal a habit first and most importantly, make it a tiny one (goal). Here is a list of examples on how Widrich translates four of the most common New Year’s Resolutions to tiny goals: Resolution: Quit smoking vs. Habit: Only stop smoking that 1 cigarette you have every morning after breakfast Resolution: Eat healthy food vs. Habit: [...]
Over the past 20 years or so, the youth sports landscape has changed dramatically. As a coach and sport psychology consultant, I am frequently approached by parents of young players who wonder about the next step. "Should my athlete play competitive or rec next year?" "What is the difference between this club team and that club team?" "We're being asked to play this one sport year-round - should we do that?" SPINw friend John O'Sullivan has a brand new book, Changing the Game, aimed at the sports parent that can help answer these questions, and help be the best sports parent possible. . When you think of youth sports and more specifically sports parents, most people think of: -poor behavior -living vicariously through kids -misplaced priorities Basically, all the things we think are counter-productive to the youth sports experience. O'Sullivan has put together a young athlete owner's manual, to help parents avoid these obstacles, and as the subtitle says "Raise happy, high performing athletes, and give youth sports back to our kids. For more information about John and his Changing the Game Project, click here.
I got a nice email from one of my soccer players I coached years ago as a 14-15 year old kid. He's now competing in distance running and is preparing for the Western States Endurance run, a 100 mile run. As the countdown to that race is getting closer, he haas been dealing with some injury issues. Mentally, here's how it was effecting him:My wondering then turns to ruminating and the list of CAN'Ts, HAVEN'T's, and DOUBTS grows increasingly longer. Negative thoughts spread infectiously, and I've found that they can get out of control very quickly. I CAN'T run as far as I'd like I CAN'T run as fast as I'd like I CAN'T train for the Inclinathon like I did last year I CAN'T run Pikes once a month like I did last year I DON'T KNOW if I'll be able to compete or even survive 100 miles in June I DON'T KNOW if I'll ever be able to run without pain ever, ever, ever again! He'd remembered some things we'd talked about years ago, when he was playing soccer in college, and decided to look me up. He found an article on the site about positive self talk, and wrote a bit about it here.When doubts arise regarding where I am with my training, I'm starting to become aware of their impact and am trying to redirect my focus. I'm trying to "feed the good wolf." I AM able to run with greater volume, frequency, and intensity than I was able to last month My core IS STRONGER now than it's ever been, thanks to ab challenges amongst friends I CAN now do consecutive headstand leg lifts and am putting my CorePower Groupon to good use I CAN jog for a couple hours, bike for a couple more, and jog around some [...]
There was a time when I was able to work directly with a high school varsity team for a full season. With the consent of the athletic director, the coaches, the players and their parents, I met with the team for group sessions that focused on mental skills development and team cohesion. I also observed the team during practice and competition, and I made myself available to meet with athletes one on one, on a voluntary basis. As a mental skills coach, the experience was invaluable because it helped me to gain better insight and understanding of team communication, team goals and expectations, and I was able to help the athletes identify characteristics that define peak performance versus poor performance. Note to the reader: the athlete's name and sport have been changed to preserve anonymity. Several games into the season, a lacrosse player approached me and wanted to discuss problems he was having with controlling his anger and frustration during competition. The athlete stated that during the past three games, he had lost his cool during each game, which resulted in him getting numerous unsportsmanlike conduct fouls for unnecessary roughness and shouting profanity (mainly the F-word). He felt that if he continued to perform like this, he would continue to draw penalties, let his team down, and would most likely lose his starting position. Mitch Abrams and Bruce Hale, professors in the field of sport psychology, describe anger in the following manner: Anger is an emotion. It is a normal emotion that requires no judgment be made of it. It is neither good nor bad to be angry; it is as normal as being happy. Anger in itself, is not observable to [...]
"You gotta help me get out of this funk," was the first sentence spoken by my new client. Loren, a small forward on the local college basketball team, quickly identified how she wanted to get out of her slump and find her basketball rhythm more consistently again. Through Loren's descriptions and answers, I noticed the general concept of motivation repeatedly came up. She commented on the grind of the long draining season, the culture of a struggling team, and her inconsistent energy levels. In our weekly sessions, which involved handouts and role-playing exercises, Loren was able to identify both her external and internal motivational sources. She learned how to store negative comments in the back of her mind and use them strategically as motivational fuel for the weight room, early morning practices, and 4th quarter stretches. Teammates would even notice how Loren could seemingly "turn on a switch" to get things going. In addition, Loren completed my "picture motivation" homework assignment requiring her to attach a small tag and photo onto her basketball gym bag. The photo would serve as a reminder of our conversations and provide an extra energy spark. Despite warming the bench the season prior, Loren was nominated team captain by her teammates. Becoming a consistently high-energy player on the court and learning how to grind out the long season were the two elements Loren appreciated most from our individual session work.
Most of the athletes the I work with are really driven people. I've been surprised by the number of 4.0 students who make their way into my office. The best athletes are self-motivators who expect the best out of themselves relentlessly. It's typically a beneficial characteristic for athletes to have but sometimes the "c'mon! You can do better!" attitude can become a detractor of motivation, focus, and confidence. Jason was a high school swimmer, who fit this bill exactly. A high performer in school, music, sports, and life in general, Jason's performance had been dipping as of late. And worse, he was developing a reputation as a "head case." As a high acheiver, he was having trouble living up to his own expectations, and becoming quite negative in his personality and demeanor. We used several techniques to help him re-focus himself and handle his energy better: goal-setting, circle breathing, focusing on the controllables, and visualization among them. But the most helpful technique in getting Jason's attitude correct was positive self-talk. As with many of these high achieving student athletes, Jason has a hard time "shutting his mind off" and overthinking things. So we set off to explore his self-talk patterns where his internal focus went during stressful times in training and competition. From our conversations, it came up that he didn't have all that much "negative self-talk," it was more doubting or questioning. He'd go back and forth between "I got this!" to "Are you sure?" From "I'm gonna kill this race!" to "What makes you think you can do that?" I told Jason that after several weeks of meeting him, I didn't see where this negative focused self-talk was coming from. He confided that [...]
"Mental Skills Training is extremely important to today's Army. We need toinculcate it into our culture; broadly, to the Soldiers and their Families... PeakPerformance is not a destination; it is a constant in life. We need to get good atit by applying these principles to the whole unit and the Army as a culture. Thisneeds to be part of our everyday lives."- GEN Peter J. Schoomaker Former Chief of Staff, ArmySPINw Sport Psychologist Eric Bergreen recently left Portland to work on contract withthe US Army to help set up mental skills training programs for soldiers. Using his experiencewith athletes and performance, he is helping soldiers to perform at their highest level everyday in the CSF-PREP program. SPINw checked in recently with Dr. Bergreen to see how things were going.SPINw: How did you get the position with the Army?Dr. Bergreen: CSF-PREP has been an expanding program within the Army. I had previous contacts who have been contacting me to see if this might be a population I would be interested in working with. They were interested in my experience with athletes as well as high performers from the corporate and academic domains. SPINw: How is it going so far?Dr. Bergreen: It has been a fantastic experience. I have worked with Soldiers from all walks of life; from Special Forces to the Wounded Warrior program. The diversity of needs has been challenging which makes for a great learning opportunity.SPINw: What similarities have you noticed between soldiers and athletes?Dr Bergreen: High performance is not specific to athletics. Whether its combat, academic success, or managing life, attaining a high level goal requires the same mental skills. SPINw: What differences have you noticed?Dr. Bergreen: I think the main difference comes [...]