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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.

Jul 05

Sports Psychologists now working with the Olympic teams

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

Sport Psychology and the Olympics 

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Licensed and Certified Clinical/Sport Psychologist

Sport Psychology and the Olympics by Dr. Jack SingerIt seems like every time the Olympics roll around the burgeoning field of “Sport Psychology” gets the recognition it deserves, because most of our teams employ sport psychologists to prepare the team and each athlete and work with them throughout the Games.

This summer is no exception.  In the last 20 years, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has increased the number of full-time sport psychologists from one to six.  In addition to these full-time psychologists, each team and many individual athletes use consulting sport psychologists to help them with such techniques as imagery, visualization, mental toughness, relaxation, positive self-talk and many other interventions.

Beginning two to four years before the Olympics, USOC sport psychologists spend approximately 100 days a year on the road with the athletes, taking them through their training camps and matches leading up to the Games.

Senior sport psychologist Sean McAnn works with both teams and individuals, with emphases on such skills as maintaining their focus, enhancing their performance, raising their self-confidence and communications skills with teammates and coaches.

Any team sport magnifies potential issues, such as the different personalities of teammates, ego issues and individuals used to always being on top,  and the dynamics of individual champions now pulling together for the sake of the entire team.

The key roles of sport psychologists have taken on more and more importance in the development of both individual and team sports.  And the skill sets these professionals bring to the athletes are critical determinants in their ultimate success.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Dr. Jack Singer’s Professional Biography

Dr. Jack Singer is a licensed Clinical, Sports and Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, author, trainer and consultant. His expertise includes a Doctorate in Industrial / Organizational Psychology and a Post-Doctorate in Clinical / Sports Psychology. Jack has been recognized with Diplomates from the American Academy of Behavioral Medicine, the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology, and he has been awarded with a special Diplomate in Sports Psychology from the National Institute of Sports Professionals. He has a special Certification in Clinical Hypnosis from the American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis and Jack has taught in the Psychology departments of seven universities, including four years as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Dr. Jack Singer has been in private practice and consulting for 33 years and the rich variety of Dr. Jack’s experience ranges from training serious athletes and teams to consistently reach peak performance levels…to working with couples and families to resolve relationship issues .to designing teambuilding ‘re-TREATS’ for Fortune 1000 corporations, and large legal and medical practices. His goal is to provide all of his clients with a SAFE, CONFIDENTIAL, and OPTIMISTIC environment in which to help them resolve their difficulties and reach their goals! In short, his passion is to help them to add life to their years and years to their lives!