Assign a 'primary' menu

Tag Archives for " athletes "

Aug 18

Behind the Scenes at the Olympics: Sports Psychologists and Positive Psychology

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , Blog , Elite Athletes

I am so proud that my emerging field of “Sports Psychology” is always on display during the Olympics, as the US teams each have sport psychologists who specialize in their sport.

Now, I apply the exact same techniques for sales, HR, and Financial Professionals.  The article below was written by psychologist, Rodney L. Lowman.  He says it better than I can.

– Dr. Jack Singer

Guest Post by Psychologist Rodney L. Lowman

They christened themselves the “Final Five” in recognition that they would be the last U.S. gymnast team coached by Martha Karolyi, who will be retiring after the 2016 Summer Olympics after coaching gymnasts through 11 Olympic contests. As the required routines progressed, the U.S. gymnastic team’s scores became nearly insurmountable, winning 12 of 12 routines. The team beat out its closest rival, Russia, by a whopping 8.209 seconds.

Outstanding Olympic Athletes

All of the members of the gymnastics team were superstars delivering dramatic, near-flawless performances, but one, Simone Biles, particularly stood out. She has been dubbed the best gymnast ever but was not born into a life of privilege. Her single mother (now clean and sober) gave up her children due to drug addiction; her father, also an addict, had abandoned the family. Adopted by her maternal grandparents and subsequently raised in Houston, Biles owns more Olympic and world gold medals than any other female gymnast ever. She is 19.

There’s more. The “Final Five” (Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman) work together remarkably well as a team. They get along with and support one another, celebrate each other’s victories and console their misses.

Then there are the swimmers Ryan Phelps, age 31, and Michael Lochte, 32, having won to date 25 and 11 Olympic medals, respectively. And let us not overlook Kristin Armstrong, who turned 43 today, and who just made history by winning her third gold medal in timed cycling.

[Tweet “Guess who’s working behind-the-scenes at the #Olympics? #Sports Psychologists!”]

Behind-the-Scenes Champions: Sports Psychologists

We rightly credit the Olympic winners for their victories but behind the scenes are a myriad of coaches, trainers, medical staff, supportive families, and yes—sports psychologists. Little known fact: the U.S. Olympic Committee includes a Sport Psychology Team. It’s now become widely accepted for athletes to have a sports psychologist or performance coach.

Sports psychology is not new. Coleman Griffith worked in the field in the 1920s. Today, sports psychologists use a variety of techniques with athletes: relationship building, arousal regulation, mental imagery, focus-building and goal setting, enhancing self-efficacy and resilience, self-talk and support. Athletes, who face extraordinary stress and high stakes, where fractions of a second determine outcomes, perform better with psychology.

Many contemporary sports psychologists such as Joan Steidinger (running and cyclist), Gio Valiante (golf), and Caroline Silby (running and triathlon) were themselves accomplished athletes. Others, like Steven Bucky, have been counseling NFL athletes for years.

Positive Psychology Can Improve Your Career Too

All of this work reflects a move in psychology to focus on performance and achievement not just deficit and dysfunction. This is often called the positive psychology revolution, whose founders include Donald Clifton and Martin Seligman (“Learned Optimism”)—and those before them like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow who concerned themselves with human happiness and well-being.

Salutogenesis – the promotion of health and well-being – is rapidly becoming an important theme in psychological research and Psychology is a remarkably broad field and its premiere professional organization, the APA, and its Division 47, Society for Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology, reflect that diversity.

Apr 30

Youth and Sports: What Does Love Have to Do With It?

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , Blog , Children and Family

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Certified Sport Psychologist

Youth and Sports by Sports Psychologist Dr. Jack SingerSo much anecdotal evidence exists today of the impact that coaches and the “climate” in which they teach their young charges have on the performance and development of these youngsters. We have all heard of coaches who coach by fear, intimidation and the threat to bench a player. Believe me, in my 33 years of practice as a Professional Sport Psychologist, I have seen the unbelievable damage that such coaching causes on the self-esteem and confidence of young athletes. It’s the rare coach who takes the time to understand each athlete and treat her/him with respect and concern for the greater goal, rather than for whether they win.

Now, there is a wonderful study of exactly what characteristics lead to the best outcomes for youngsters who engage in sporting activities. As reported in the latest issue of “Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology,” the purpose of the study was to examine if the influence of youngsters’ perceptions of a “caring climate” in a summer sport camp program would predict psychological well being of those youngsters throughout their sports camp experience.

The results were amazing! Youngsters who perceived that their counselors/coaches truly cared about them (that is, they felt valued, supported, and accepted, (as opposed to judged or criticized) were much happier and much more coachable. These youngsters maintained hope in the face of failure, and remained happy, rather than sad or depressed. “Results suggest that equipping adults with strategies to create a positive and caring climate can reap significant rewards for young people with regard to their overall physical and psychological development.”

This proves the adage that a “sandwich” approach to coaching youngsters works wonders: Find something good to say about his/her performance, then give feedback about how she/he can improve, and finish it off with something else that is positive. this is the essence of providing a positive and caring climate in which youngsters can learn their sport. And that’s the winning ticket!

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer