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 [...]

What does US Soccer’s new mandates mean for you?

The implementation of US Soccer's 2015 Player Development initiatives is right around the corner.  There has been lots of discussion on the topic, but few concrete answers, which is leaving many involved in youth soccer a bit confused and unsettled about what these changes will mean for players.  These initiatives are changing the youth soccer landscape completely, so there are a lot of unknowns for parents, coaches and players alike. The bottom line is, what's best for the kids? Do these mandates help or hurt? Here in Oregon, youth tryouts for club soccer are taking place May 9-14.  In this article we will take a closer look at the changes coming up, give our take on them, and what they will mean for the youth soccer community. {SPINw is hosting Tryout Prep Mental Game Workshops to help players go into tryouts focused & confident}  -Click on the link below for more information and to register- First off, why all the changes?  Why now? Click here for a video explanation from US Soccer According to US Soccer, here's the reasoning behind the changes: Despite the increased popularity of soccer and the success of our national teams, the youth soccer landscape at the entry level needs to be improved. Our soccer culture at the youth level focuses on winning and results rather than focusing on developing the skills of individual players. The concept of a team outweighs the importance of players having fun and developing to the best of their abilities. As a country, we need coaches and parents to spend less time caring about wins and loses, and more time devoted to teaching individual skills. Part of this initiative is to educate and empower coaches and parents to change [...]

What would you do? Sport Parent edition

Most of us have seen the ABC show What Would You Do?  For those who haven’t, it’s a hidden camera show where actors act out pretty inappropriate conversations and actions in public.  Then the show captures the reactions of normal everyday people to see how they handle these super uncomfortable situations.  Host John Quinones then comes out of hiding to interview the unsuspecting citizens. Sometimes, as a soccer parent, I’m left wondering where the cameras are hidden because I can’t believe I am watching adults act the way they are acting.  Of course, most of the games go on as they should - with supportive parents and family members cheering on their sons and daughters as they compete.  But there are others where the parents berate 14 year old referees, 10 year old players from the opposing team, and each other.  Those times when things just get way out of hand. As a sports parent, most of us behave ourselves.  Maybe occasionally we’ll let a “come on ref!” slip out, but for the most part we keep it together, keep it respectful, and display positive sportsmanship.  But do we stand up when the bad apples act up?  Have we ever left a game thinking “I really should have said or done something!” when another parent got out of control?  It can be a really tricky situation, talking to a stranger, or even someone we know, about their behavior.  It can be uncomfortable! So my question is, What would you do?   Here are a couple situations I've witnessed or heard about.  I'm sure you have witnessed or heard about stories like this to.   Did you have success with it?  Share your "what would you do" moment [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:03-07:00 May 19th, 2014|Preparation, Sports Parenting, Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Mental side of Coaching

by Glen Coblens, MA Most coaches agree that sports are more mental than physical. Yet most athletes focus more on their physical skills. Coaching is the same. In addition to working on game strategy and skill development, coaches should focus more on proper breathing techniques, communication, preparation and goal setting. How do successful coaches stay in the moment, be calm during tense competitions, make strategic decisions and clearly communicate to their teams? The time and effort they put in way before working with their athletes will provide them with a strong base to rely on. Just like athletes, learning proper breathing techniques can help coaches. Circle breathing, where you take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth can lower your heart rate, help you think clearly and focus on the task at hand. How coaches communicate with their athletes is just as important as what they communicate. Athletes want to feel validated in their thoughts and feelings. The goal is for each athlete to reach his/her potential and if it is a team sport for the team to reach its full potential. Coaches who make the effort to value athlete’s comments and provide clear and constructive instructions in return have greater success in achieving this goal. In addition, coaching is about developing relationships and helping athletes grow and develop as people. When an athlete feels validated, they are more likely to increase their effort, “buy into the game-plan,” feel better about themselves and perform at a higher level. Sports provides lessons for life and preparation is the key to anything in life. Successful coaches are good at focusing on what is needed and preparing a plan to accomplish it. Plans can [...]

By | 2015-08-04T16:07:24-07:00 April 1st, 2014|Coaching, Preparation|0 Comments

Athletes – Get Your Winter Sun!

Can't play at the top of your game if you have poor sleep, down moods and/or constant illness. Getting your winter sun connects with all of these! Physician, Dr. Brent Barlow states "Melatonin, a hormone that helps improve the quality of sleep is produced in highest amounts on days when the body was exposed to optimal levels of UV radiation. Therefore, you may sleep better after days where you had been exposed to natural UV radiation from the sun." Additionally, "I recommend all my patients get at least 20-30 minutes of direct natural UV exposure on a daily basis. The beneficial rays of the winter sun penetrate through the cloud layer so you don't have to wait for the sunshine in order to get the benefits of natural UV exposure." Don't let your tough workouts go to waste by not treating your mind & body correctly. Getting daily sun exposure, even through the cloud layer, is key for: Staying alert in games Maintaining focus on the court Sleeping well before competitions Staying positive

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:06-07:00 October 17th, 2012|Preparation|0 Comments

Finding the Beat in Your Pre-Performance Routine

As our U.S. athletes prepare to take center stage at the London Olympics, one is to wonder how they are able to mentally prepare and to keep focused on their performance. Many world-class athletes are seen wearing headphones and listening to music as they walk onto the court, swim platform, or track. Listening to music during an athlete's pre-performance routine can help them to: Concentrate on their pre-game routine and to keep focus on their upcoming event. Help them to relax if they are feeling nervous or anxious before competition. Or, it can help them to psych up for competition. It can also help them to refocus when they are feeling distracted. Interested in learning more? Take a look at this blog: Musical Pre-performance Routines: A look at Michael Phelps Interested in working with Jimmy or one of our SPINw consultants?  Email info@spinw or call 1-888-885-5570

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:06-07:00 July 11th, 2012|Preparation|0 Comments

Ask a Sport Psychology Consultant

We had our first online "Ask a Sport Psychology Consultant" session in June. Here is one of the questions submitted, and how Brian answered it:Question:  Do SPINW psychologists accompany athletes to watch their performances in a real-world setting? If not, how can they possibly get a complete assessment of the athlete's mental weaknesses and required remedies?Brian's answer:  While it is not a normal part of our consulting, we do offer observation as part of our services in different packages.  Most athletes/teams rarely ask for it though.  I agree with you that observation could be beneficial, however, in my experience, I have found that a majority of my athletes have had a high success rate without observation.   Similarly, I don't have to be familiar with the intricacies of specific sports to help athletes' mental game.  For instance, my main sports are soccer, basketball and football, but I have successfully helped athletes from sport such as moto-cross, competitive cheer, distance running, and horse-back riding. Sometimes I request athletes bring video of themselves so that I can see their body language, or have them explain a specific technique to me. In my opinion, the reason observation is not 100% necessary is that most athletes who are determined to improve and get past mental blocks are very open with their thought and emotional patterns in their performance.  I ask athletes to commit to at least 6 sessions - that way I can get to the heart of the issue through questions and counseling, and determine which techniques to teach and help ingrain into the athletes' second nature over time. Do you have any questions you'd like to ask?  email them to

By | 2012-07-10T23:21:18-07:00 July 10th, 2012|Preparation|0 Comments

“The New Year’s Resolution“ How to set Effective Goals

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!) The New Year's Resolutions is a form of goal setting. In sport psychology research, literature, and practice, 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.  This is almost always the case with the New Year's Resolution. Whether setting a New Year's Resolution, or just a goal in general, here are the main reasons for failure: 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 2012, compared to 2011, when you went running 0 times, you have accomplished your goal! However, I doubt this is what you had in mind when you set that goal. It is too general; so let's make it more specific: Goal: "I will get in better shape this year by running every day." That sounds a little better, but will most [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:06-07:00 December 8th, 2011|Goal Setting, Preparation|0 Comments

Attention Winter Season Sports Coaches and Athletes!

Attention winter season sports coaches and athletes:  SPINw and Bethany Physical Therapy are joining forces to bring you a unique series of workshops to get you mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming season. ACL Injury Prevention Training & Sport Psychology Class Series!Head over to our events section to learn more, and check out the upcoming workshops on the right side of the page.For more information, call Brian at (503) 309-3347 or email at brian@spinw.comTo register, please call Bethany PT at (503) 466-2254 or email at

By | 2011-09-17T18:39:00-07:00 September 17th, 2011|Preparation|0 Comments