How are the playoffs different from the regular season mentally and emotionally? What sport psychology techniques can athletes and coaches use to best prepare for the rise in intensity, anxiety and nerves that happens in the postseason? Check out Brian's interview on KUIK radio 1360 am.
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've got a New Year's Resolution for us all - Lay off the referees, enough already! I've heard all the excuses, and I'm sure you have too: "We didn't win because of that one bad call!" "They are always biased against our team." After a while, I all I hear is "Blah blah (excuses) blah blah (not my fault) blah blah (must blame someone other than myself) blah blah." I have coached soccer in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, California, and Oregon. Guess which state has the worst refs? It depends where you live! Because those living in each state will claim it their referees are the worst. How about some perspective? Read any message board comments section about a controversial call or a "bad game" by the officials - the fans rarely ever agree on good calls/bad calls, and that's with the benefit of slow motion replays from numerous angles! Even with the advent of instant replay in the NFL, there are still arguments. How about some perspective? In sport psychology, we teach and train athletes on mental toughness - how to build and maintain confidence, and how to re-build confidence over the course of training and competition. To do that, athletes must be focused on things that they can control over things they cannot. And the referee is a big factor that is out of your control (others include the weather, field conditions, opponents, etc.). Athletes need to know this, coaches need to know this, and sports parents need to know this. And we all need to act accordingly. Do referees make bad calls? Of course they do. Is it okay to be upset about it? Yes it is. How long is it okay to [...]
Thanksgiving coming up. As we all know, it's a time to slow down, gather with family and friends, and give thanks for all that we have. It's a needed time of the year, because during the daily grind it can become easy to be more focused on what we don't have! So a time of the year to give thanks and be grateful. In other words showing, "Gratitude." What does this have to do with sports performance? The pressure, the intensity, and the daily grind can change an athlete's perspective over time: The enjoyment can be replaced by timidness and dread, the opportunity replaced by obligation. When this happens, performance is likely to suffer. In the past couple months, I have seen this concept has come up a lot with my athletes. Deliberately and mindfully taking the time to show gratitude during training and competition can improve performance by returning the feeling of perspective, control, and enjoyment. So how do athletes "give thanks" and how does that help with performance? Again, it's a matter of perspective. Giving thanks to the situation you are in, not being stressed about it; being thankful for the opportunity you have and not dwelling on what you don't have or wish you had. Here are a couple of examples from SPINw athletes: A highly rated high school baseball player I worked with was having a hard time living up to his own expectations. There was some external pressure to be sure, but nothing that outweighed the pressure he put on himself. To introduce gratitude for this young man, part of his pre-game routine became to step out on the field before anyone shows up, and be thankful that he's playing. A [...]
Coaches are teachers, motivators, amateur sport psychologists, and parental figures. A great coach can teach life lessons that go on well beyond the playing field, while a bad coach can make a young athlete hate sports and quit playing altogether. I was like many young athletes, figuring that the leap from a high school level to the collegiate level would mean not only higher competition, but better coaching, and wow, was I wrong about that. A recent Sports Illustrated article details some disturbing stats about how collegiate athletes are treated by their coaches. (This podcast echos the article and is worth the listen). In one study cited in the article: "39% of women’s basketball players strongly agreed that “my head coach can be trusted.” 61% of these athletes do not trust the person who is suposed to be their biggest ally and advocate? The article also goes on to say: "Even more alarming, athletes have never been more psychologically vulnerable, reflecting a trend among all college students. The ACHA assessment found that 41% of athletes had “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” and 52% had “felt overwhelming anxiety,” with the figures for women jumping to 45% and 59%, respectively. Further, 14% of athletes said they had “seriously considered suicide,” with 6% having attempted it." A similar article was written 5 years ago, but it doesn't seem like much has changed, despite the assertion that: "That shift has forced coaches to adjust. Abuse simply won't be tolerated." But it still happens. Within those 5 years we've seen Illinois football coach fired, video of Rutgers basketball coach throwing balls at a player while berating him, Florida football coach Jim McElwain curse out a player on [...]
Whether it's your daughter's first season of kindergarten soccer, or your son's senior year at linebacker, parents can have the same nervous-wracking/exciting feelings the kid has as the season approaches. Throughout the season, you are bound to experience a wide range of emotions: joy, exhilaration, frustration, bewilderment, and anger. You will witness amazing displays of sportsmanship, jaw-dropping incompetence, and uncomfortable moments of conflict. But it's nothing compared to what your young athlete will go through, how they will experience it all. Throughout it all, the main role of the sports parent is to know the Big Picture. For kids, each game will be the most important event in their life! You know that it's just a blip on the long-term radar. For kids, tryouts can make or break the whole year. You know that no matter how it goes, they will learn from it. For kids, bad calls, disagreements with teammates and coaches, and bad bounces, might be proof that the world is against them. You know that all those things are a part of life, and how you deal with them is much more important that the situation itself. But sometimes we parents can get caught up in the moment. Sometimes as parents we forget. As you approach this season, here are three important facts to help you remember to see sports in the Big Picture context of life. 1) A very small percentage of high school athletes will play in college. An even smaller amount will earn a scholarship to play in college. And an even smaller percentage will play in the pros. Check out what the NCAA has to say about this. If your child has college or professional aspirations, great! Encourage [...]
When I tell people that I have a Masters Degree in Sport Psychology and that working with athletes is my full time job, they usually say something like, "Cool! I have never heard of that, didn't know there was such a thing." When I talk to former athletes about the field of sport psychology, they usually say something like, "Man, I could have used someone like you back when I was in college/high school/competitive athletics!" How do we know it works? 1- Because of the high level of success in our athletes - About 75% of our athletes find us through word of mouth referrals! It's common for us to hold a workshop for a team or group and then have some athletes come to see us individually afterwards. All of our consultants have playing, coaching, and parenting experience so we really relate to each athlete. The majority of our athletes report improvement in confidence, control, focus, performance and more after meeting with us. 2- Because of our relationships. We have been working for numerous years with organizations like University of Portland, Wilson High School baseball, Windell's Academy, Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club, and the Portland Timbers and Thorns RTC program. These organizations highly value the mental game for their organization, teams, coaches, parents, and of course their athletes, and have included SPINw as a key component of their success. 3 - Because we are seeing it more and more in the pros, as I wrote about last year. Performance in sports can be broken down into 4 main "pillars:" Technical, Tactical, Physical, and Mental. Players must be proficient in each area to perform at their maximum. As the level of play rises, the differences [...]
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.
The vast majority of our clients have been athletes. High level performers who have high aspirations, push themselves to train hard for extended periods of time, and who sacrifice so much in their lives to achieve their goals. From team sports like soccer, basketball and baseball, to individual sports like cross country, tennis and golf, there are probably more similarities in the mental game than differences. Pressure, stress, dealing with failure, inconsistency in motivation, lack of confidence, mental fatigue, and struggles with concentration are some of the issues we see no matter what the sport. But not only across sports, this is across life too. Think of your life outside of sports, whether it's work, a job interview, taking a big test, or simply paying your bills in any given month. These issues come up in many areas of life where you have to perform to a high level to achieve your objectives. While most of our clients are athletes, we have also worked with students, business people, stock traders, and military, among others. The qualities needed to perform are the same: confidence, focus, motivation, dealing with pressure and anxiety, controlling emotions, and more. Check out our sport psychology services page to see if what we provide athletes could help you perform to your best in your field. Mental Skills Foundation for US Army
by Dr. Eric Bergreen Years ago I had to take a big test, the biggest of my life. This was one of those tests where the odds were Not in your favor. ARG…….PRESSURE! I thought to myself, what’s the difference between BIG Test pressure and trying to make the game winning free throw? Nothing, absolutely nothing. As they say “it’s all in your mind.” I created a pre-performance routine to get me in a confident mindset. Next, I created a refocus routine for when I hit those tough questions that make me think more about the consequences of failure than the actual question. I was nervous, but the skills I learned from Sport Psychology really helped me beat that test. So, if Sport Psychology is not just for sports, where else in life do we experience a desire to succeed and often find ourselves tested? The answer is everywhere! Because others could see it’s not about “Sports” it is about “Performance”, I recently had the opportunity to work with the United States Army. Consider a Soldier who is fresh out of high school and facing training that will determine the ultimate version of success and loss. Consider an Army Ranger who is at the top of his game but still wants that split second edge when push comes to shove. They both need to reach their potential in the critical moment. The skills of composure, focus, confidence, and mental agility were needed in every part of their life. It was enjoyable to take the exact same mental skills I have taught to athletes and let the Soldiers tell me all the applications in their world. And yes, they taught me some amazing skills as well. [...]