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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 08

Advising the Advisors – Part III

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors , Stress

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Financial Advisor Trainer and Coach

It all Starts with Your “Internal Critic”

Recall that in my last segment, Advising the Advisors – Part 2: Buffer Yourself Against the Real Cause of ALL of Your Stress, I discussed the foundation of all stress, among advisors (and anyone else, for that matter) which is not, events, such as dealing with an angry client, having difficulty with your prospecting calls,  or the market tanking unexpectedly. it is your “self-talk” about each event that either causes stress or doesn’t.  And your self-talk habits are part of what I call your “Internal Critic.”

Your “Internal Critic” is that little voice within that spews out an average of 55,000 words per day, 77% of which are negative, self-defeating messages.  Current research in the field of Cognitive Psychology shows that self-limiting, negative and pessimistic thoughts (self-talk) inhibit your success because they undermine your self-confidence. Examples are thoughts that begin with variations of the following: “What if…,“I hope I don’t . . .” “I should have said . . .” “The client won’t like me if . . .” “I always have problems with . . .” “I probably won’t be able to close this sale,” or “I can’t believe how stupid I was to tell her . . .” 

The “impostor fear,” which I discussed in an earlier segment, and most other fears, are all learned habits.  Advisors who fear that they will fail to develop enough business to support their families were not born with that fear; it was learned by repeating negative self-statements for years.

The wisdom about how our inner thoughts and beliefs about events are critical to our well-being has been around for centuries.  The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “Men are disturbed not my things, but by the views which they take of them.”  In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote, “There’s nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Negative, messages that pass through your mind immediately lead to muscle tightening, rapid breathing, and perspiring. These physiological responses are perceived as “stress,” so the more we allow these self-limiting thoughts continue unabated, the more stress we suffer.  What all advisors need is resiliency skills to counter the self-doubt and lack of confidence they frequently experience.

Overcoming the Internal Critic 

It’s one thing to recognize that you are producing stress by worrisome, anxiety-producing thoughts, but how do you avoid doing this during economic downturns and topsy-turvy market fluctuations?  The first step is to stop the negative thought as soon as you recognize it.

A trick that works is wearing a rubber band and snapping away whenever you catch yourself beginning one of your habitual negative thinking habits. Next, ask yourself some key questions about that thought, such as, “Do I have any evidence that I won’t be able to control my client’s rampage?”  “What can I do differently this time?”  Can I use ‘active listening’ (a subject of an upcoming column) to focus on his emotions and concerns, rather than justifying my recommendations in a defensive manner?”  “Can I assert myself with this client and not worry about losing him?”

Give yourself positive descriptions about who you are.  For example, tell yourself that you have helped many clients and their families to successfully manage their wealth through many market fluctuations and you can do so with this client as well.

You are, indeed, a wonderful financial advisor, but that doesn’t mean you can please every client.  Perhaps, if this client is a constant thorn in your side, it’s time to refer him elsewhere or recommend that he move on.  The income you will lose is not worth the constant aggravation he causes you. Your peace of mind is not worth the problems this client presents.  Being calmer will ultimately result in you making better decisions for your clients, so that the lost income will be quickly replaced.

Finally, take a series of slow, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, until you feel calmer.  Simultaneously, visualize yourself feeling relief after having the upcoming conversation.

Practicing these simple techniques will help you to overcome the negative thinking habits that have caused the bulk of your stress.

 

Dec 05

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day: Maintaining Team Synergy

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

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Licensed Sport/Clinical Psychologist

4 Critical Ways to Maintain Team Synergy During a Long Season

[contentbox width=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]This is the 5th of a series of cutting edge tips from the field of Sport Psychology to help you reach peak performance, both as an individual athlete and as a team. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Dr. Jack at 1-800-497-9880 or email him on the contact page.[/contentbox]

As a team goes through the trials and tribulations of a difficult season, internal dynamics can have as much to do with the success or failure of the team as does the competition.

Here are 4 tips to give your team a better chance of maintaining their mutual goals and success:

  1. Embrace Diversity.  Team chemistry thrives on team diversity, so that players balance each other out.  Encourage practical jokers, serious-all-the-time players, motivators, leaders, etc. for the best results.  Sort of like politics in the U.S.  We are much better with democrats, republicans and independents, each with different ideas and skill sets.
  2. Place Importance on Positive, Optimistic Feedback. Communicate encouraging, optimistic information to teammates, rather than critical, discouraging information.  Be aware that different players require different kinds of feedback to motivate them, so pay attention to the verbal and non verbal feedback you give each player.
  3. Provide Mutual Support, Regardless of the Situation. Team members who are supportive of their teammates and encouraging, regardless of mistakes made, put the team in the best position to overcome adversity.  The Golden Rule is always treat your teammates like you’d appreciate them treating you, under the same circumstances.
  4. Develop and Maintain Mutual Trust. Teammates need to trust that they are accepted, even on days where their performance is lacking.  They need to know that everyone on the team has their best interests in mind and that the whole will always achieve more than the separate individuals will.  This is particularly important where teammates are competing with each other for starting positions.  Team should be first…not individual goals or desires.  

Core Sports Performance

You know the importance of training your muscles. But you should also know the importance of training your mind. It’s no secret that elite athletes like Tiger Woods, Ken Norton (who used hypnosis training before his famous victory where he broke Mohammad Ali’s jaw), and Nolan Ryan all used hypnosis to propel them to the next level.

Now, you can acquire these same techniques, and reap the benefits of unconscious peak-performance training.

In just four sessions, Dr. Jack’s unique hypnosis techniques and visualization exercises will help you fully utilize your unconscious mind for peak sports performance. You’ll learn to enlist all facets of your consciousness to help you overcome obstacles. Each session will take you into deeper states of relaxation and focus.

All athletes train hard. But less than 1% know how to apply the techniques you’ll learn from Dr. Jack Singer’s Core Sports Performance program. Hypnosis can make the difference for every athlete who wants to gain a competitive edge. Click here to purchase.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years.  Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit  DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Nov 29

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day: Coping With Mistakes Made During Athletic Performance

By Dr. Jack Singer | General

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Licensed Sport/Clinical Psychologist

[contentbox width=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]This is the 4th of a series of cutting edge tips from the field of Sport Psychology to help you reach peak performance, both as an individual athlete and as a team. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Dr. Jack at 1-800-497-9880 or email him on the contact page.[/contentbox]

One of the hardest tasks an athlete must do is to quickly let go of mistakes and move on.  Unfortunately, in most athletic pursuits, the athlete makes a mistake, error or blunder and then hammers himself about it.  Staying fixed on the mistake inevitably leads to more mistakes, because focus is left behind.

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day with Dr. Jack SingerAthletes must learn to STAY IN THE NOW… letting go of the past and not worrying about the future outcome of their game. So, how does one do this?

  1. Be aware of your self-talk. Are you obsessing about the mistake, labeling yourself as a lousy player, or simply feeling embarrassed?
  2. Let it go and move on. Put the mistake aside and let it float away from your mind. Tell yourself that your next opportunity to perform well will come at any moment and you need to be focused and ready for it.
  3. Rehearse self-talk that you will use in the future, when you make another mistake. Tell yourself that once the mistake is made, to keep thinking about it trains your subconscious mind to feel awful, instead of to getting ready for great performance in the next situation. So, you will move on, quickly.
  4. The only thing to think about regarding the mistake is how it happened technically, so you can avoid it repeating. Only focus on how you will prevent the mistake the next time you are in the situation.
  5. Keep a positive performance notebook on your nightstand. Athletes so often re-hash mistakes after the game and when they are trying to fall asleep. NEVER DO THAT. Instead, every night before you shut the lights, record what you did in practice/games, etc. that day that you are pleased with and fall asleep re-playing those positive visualizations in your mind.

Core Sports Performance

You know the importance of training your muscles. But you should also know the importance of training your mind. It’s no secret that elite athletes like Tiger Woods, Ken Norton (who used hypnosis training before his famous victory where he broke Mohammad Ali’s jaw), and Nolan Ryan all used hypnosis to propel them to the next level.

Now, you can acquire these same techniques, and reap the benefits of unconscious peak-performance training.

In just four sessions, Dr. Jack’s unique hypnosis techniques and visualization exercises will help you fully utilize your unconscious mind for peak sports performance. You’ll learn to enlist all facets of your consciousness to help you overcome obstacles. Each session will take you into deeper states of relaxation and focus.

All athletes train hard. But less than 1% know how to apply the techniques you’ll learn from Dr. Jack Singer’s Core Sports Performance program. Hypnosis can make the difference for every athlete who wants to gain a competitive edge. Click here to purchase.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years.  Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit  DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Nov 14

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day: Checklist for Productive Practices

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Licensed Sport/Clinical Psychologist

[contentbox width=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]This is the second of a series of cutting edge tips from the field of Sport Psychology to help you reach peak performance, both as an individual athlete and as a team. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Dr. Jack at 1-800-497-9880 or email him on the contact page.[/contentbox]

Coaches frequently complain that practices are not consistently productive and research shows that the more practices simulate game conditions, the better athletes and teams perform during games.  Therefore, having consistently productive practices is crucial to team success.

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day: Checklist for Productive PracticesA very thorough checklist for Practice Organization was highlighted in a recent edition of Championship Performance: 

  1. Is the practice schedule for the day displayed on the team bulletin board?
  2. Do the players arrive on time for practice?
  3. Does the coach have a file of previous practices?
  4. Does the coach have a written practice plan?
  5. Does the coach refer back to past practice plans?
  6. Do the plans list specific time limits for each activity?
  7. Does the coach have specific duties planned for each activity?
  8. Do the players know what is expected of them in each practice?
  9. Does each member of the coaching staff have clearly defined responsibilities?
  10. Does the coach have different plans for the separate parts of the season?
  11. Do the players gain or lose stamina and endurance during practice?
  12. Do the players run drills directly related to anticipated game situations?
  13. Can the players raise their intensity levels during practice to the levels they will need in the game?

Structure and organization during practices are key ingredients for success during game time.

Check out Dr. Jack’s Instant Sports Success ebook series, How to Maintain Peak Performance & The Winner’s Mental Edge.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years.  Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit  DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Nov 07

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day: Team Building Exercise

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology

by Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Licensed Sport/Clinical Psychologist

[contentbox width=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]This is the first of a series of cutting edge tips from the field of Sport Psychology to help you reach peak performance, both as an individual athlete and as a team. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Dr. Jack at 1-800-497-9880 or email him on the contact page.[/contentbox]

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day - Team BuildingOne of the most positive and pro-active things a team can do is anticipate situations that could erode team chemistry. By putting possible conflicts, etc., on the table and practicing alternative reactions will go a long way toward preventing such erosion and will keep the team functioning as a well-oiled machine.

Developing Practice Scenarios:

Solicit from athletes (anonymously if possible) situations that could cause frustration and friction on the team and which they might have a tendency to react negatively. Example: A basketball team where two hot shot freshmen were recruited and now some junior or senior starters are concerned that they will lose their spot.

Exercise:

Split the team in half and have each group role play a scenario in front of the rest of the team. Example: Give the players the scenario above, as if it has happened already to their team. Have the group act out a negative response, followed by a positive response. Done correctly, this exercise will be fun and creative solutions will flow.

  • Negative responses may include players complaining that “They didn’t earn their way into the starting lineup,” or “Coach must be mad at me and is starting him to motivate me.”
  • Positive responses my include: “We welcome the opportunity to compete against younger players in practice. If they outplay us, they deserve to start and our team will be better for it.” “Even if I lose my starting job, I can become a mentor to the freshmen and our team will be better for it.”

Allowing team members to come up with sample scenarios and then role play unhealthy reactions, followed by healthy reactions can go a long way toward building resilience to the inevitable frustrations they will face down the road.

You know the importance of training your muscles. But you should also know the importance of training your mind. It’s no secret that elite athletes like Tiger Woods, Ken Norton (who used hypnosis training before his famous victory where he broke Mohammad Ali’s jaw), and Nolan Ryan all used hypnosis to propel them to the next level. Check out Dr. Jack’s Core Sports Performance 2 CD set.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years.  Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit  DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Sep 28

When Your Therapist Is Only a Click Away

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Counseling

Excerpted from New York Times

Skype Counseling For Depression, Anxiety, Anger Management, Divorce Recovery, Infidelity/Affair, Athletic Performance with Dr. Jack Singer.Mary Smith headed outside to her friend’s pool. Settling into a lounge chair, she tapped the Skype application on her phone. Hundreds of miles away, her face popped up on her therapist’s computer monitor; he smiled back on her phone’s screen.

She took a sip of her cocktail. The session began.

Ms. Smith, a 33-year-old high school teacher, used to be in treatment the conventional way — with face-to-face office appointments. Now, with her new doctor, she said: “I can have a Skype therapy session with my morning coffee or before a night on the town with the girls. I can take a break from shopping for a session. I took my doctor with me through three states this summer!”

And, she added, “I even e-mailed him that I was panicked about a first date, and he wrote back and said we could do a 20-minute mini-session.”

Since telepsychiatry was introduced decades ago, video conferencing has been an increasingly accepted way to reach patients in hospitals, prisons, veterans’ health care facilities and rural clinics — all supervised sites.

But today Skype has made online private practice accessible for a broader swath of patients, including those who shun office treatment or who simply like the convenience of therapy on the fly.

“In three years, this will take off like a rocket,” said Eric A. Harris, a lawyer and psychologist who consults with the American Psychological Association Insurance Trust. “Everyone will have real-time audiovisual availability. There will be a group of true believers who will think that being in a room with a client is special and you can’t replicate that by remote involvement. But a lot of people, especially younger clinicians, will feel there is no basis for thinking this. Still, appropriate professional standards will have to be followed.”

The pragmatic benefits are obvious. “No parking necessary!” touts one online therapist. Some therapists charge less for sessions since they, too, can do it from home, saving on gas and office rent. Blizzards, broken legs and business trips no longer cancel appointments. The anxiety of shrink-less August could be, dare one say … curable?

Ms. Smith came to the approach through geographical necessity. When her therapist moved, she was apprehensive about transferring to the other psychologist in her small town,  who would certainly know her prominent ex-boyfriend. So her therapist referred her to another doctor, whose practice was a day’s drive away. But he was willing to use Skype with long-distance patients. She was game.

Now she prefers these sessions to the old-fashioned kind.

But does knowing that your therapist is just a phone tap or mouse click away create a 21st-century version of shrink-neediness?

“There’s that comfort of carrying your doctor around with you like a security blanket,” Ms. Smith acknowledged. “But,” she added, “because he’s more accessible, I feel like I need him less.”

The technology does have its speed bumps. Online treatment upends a basic element of therapeutic connection: eye contact.

Patient and therapist typically look at each other’s faces on a computer screen. But in many setups, the camera is perched atop a monitor. Their gazes are then off-kilter.

“So patients can think you’re not looking them in the eye,” said Lynn Bufka, a staff psychologist with the American Psychological Association. “You need to acknowledge that upfront to the patient, or the provider has to be trained to look at the camera instead of the screen.”

The quirkiness of Internet connections can also be an impediment. “You have to prepare vulnerable people for the possibility that just when they are saying something that’s difficult, the screen can go blank,” said DeeAnna Merz Nagel, a psychotherapist licensed in New Jersey and New York. “So I always say, ‘I will never disconnect from you online on purpose.’ You make arrangements ahead of time to call each other if that happens.”

Research on the effectiveness of on-line therapy shows the same effects, essentially, as in person therapy, so the practicality of on-line therapy outweighs the few negative issues, such as not sitting in front of the client and seeing his/her body language, eye contact, etc.  In addition, I am able to Skype with clients who are on vacation in other locals, and with athletes, who are out of town performing in major events and want to touch base with me before or after their events.  In short, I have found using Skype has grown my practice and dramatically increased my access to clients.

Dr. Jack Singer offers Skype Therapy with clients all over California.  For more information, contact Dr. Jack at (800) 497-9880.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Sep 10

Stress and World Class Coaches

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Elite Athletes , Stress Management

How Coaches’ Stress Impacts Elite Athletes

By Dr. Jack Singer

Stress and World Class Coaches by Dr. Jack Singer

Much attention is paid to the impact of stress on elite athletes, but until recently, the impact of stress on their coaches has been largely ignored.  What is really important about this new discovery is that the way coaches deal with their own stress directly impacts the performance of their athletes. 

The amount of stress a world class or Olympic coach experiences is a function of his/her perception of the demands (stressors) made by their job and their own ability to cope with stressors.  So much attention has been given to teaching athletes how to cope with the stressors of performing their sport,  but we now know that if their coaches do not cope, it will impact their coaching skills and ultimately, the athlete’s performance. 

World class and Olympic coaches complain about psychological, physical and behavioral responses to their stress, such as having low frustration tolerance, acting fidgety, and agitated.  These coaches complain of burnout symptoms, including mental fatigue and a sense of reduced enjoyment about their coaching roles.  This impacts their athletes, both because of the coach’s body language  and the tone of voice from the coach to the athlete.  These are both potential sources of strain for their athletes.

The solution is that professional Sport Psychologists should pay as much attention to helping coaches develop the skills and strategies needed to cope with the demands of world class coaching.  Only then will the elite athlete have the best opportunity to let his/her true talent shine.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California. Call today toll free at 1-800-497-9880 for a free 20 minute telephone consultation with Dr. Jack Singer.

Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis

Aug 30

How to Choose the Right Therapist for You

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , General

Choosing a therapist who is the right fit for you can be a critical determinant of whether you will be able to resolve your problems or not.

Here are some basic tips to help you in the selection process. 

How to Choose the Right Therapist for You by Dr. Jack SingerGet a referral from someone you trust.  Believe it or not, your physician may not be the best person to ask for a referral to a competent therapist.  The reason for this is that many physicians refer to people who refer back to them, regardless of the competency of the therapist!  So, if you really do want the name of a therapist from your physician, be sure to ask if he or she has had patients who reported excellent progress with that therapist.

Often, a good referral source is a family member or friend who has had excellent outcomes working with a particular therapist.

Check on the therapist’s credentials. Make sure you’re considering a therapist who is licensed in your state and has passed national licensing examinations.  Therapists come in a multitude of specialties, from Masters level family and marriage therapists, to licensed clinical social workers, to licensed psychologists.

Unlicensed practitioners can call themselves psychotherapists, therapists and counselors, so be careful to only choose a licensed therapist.  No one can use the title of “psychologist” without a license.

Therapists have different specialties and experience levels.  Depending on your issues (such as relationship issues, eating disorders, sports performance, chronic illnesses), you can easily locate therapists who actually specialize in those issues.

Interview therapists via phone before making this very important decision. A good therapist will be willing to speak to you over the phone before you commit to an appointment.  Don’t be hesitant to ask questions, such as the following:

  • How long has he or she been in practice?
  • What is his or her area of expertise?
  • What methods does he or she use to treat patients?
  • What is the typical length of treatment?
  • Does he or she accept your type of insurance?

Don’t be afraid to ask the therapist about where she/he went to school.  You can quickly determine which schools have higher academic standards and you are generally better selecting one who went to a well qualified school.

Another advantage of that initial phone call is to make sure that you feel comfortable and safe with this person.  Be sure to inquire about the confidentiality issues that the therapist is bound by.

If you do your homework, in selecting a therapist, there is a much greater probability that your therapy experience will be wonderful!

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California.

Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis

Mar 14

Athletes and Sports Psychologists

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology

When the chips are down, the athlete often cannot share his/her inner fears, anxiety and anger issues with the coach or their parents. Now, the athlete has a critical ally…the professional Sports Psychologist (also referred as the professional Sport Psychologist).

The Sports Psychologist, who should be Certified and well-trained in examining the whole person, can provide the athlete with skills that can really develop an elite athlete from a good athlete. Coaches and trainers focus almost exclusively on left brain activities, including game plans, strategy, technique, speed, agility, muscle building, etc. Most athletes focus exclusively on training using the left brain. Accordingly, athletes are cheated because their right brains are being ignored.

Right brain activities include balance, emotions, music, and visualization, all of which can really enhance performance. The Sports Psychologist trains the athlete to exercise the right brain along with the left brain. For example, teaching mental toughness skills (including intensity, confidence and emotions during key moments in competition) critically important in peak performance.

Overcoming pressure is another right brain activity that can be taught to athletes. These skills include recognizing the causes of emotions during key moments in competition and how to modify those emotions, if necessary.

Stress management skills are critical and necessary if the athlete wants to compete successfully and consistently. Interestingly, a certain amount of tension (i.e., being on edge, pumped up, psyched) is crucial for peak performance to be maintained. In fact, the athlete with too much relaxation is at the same disadvantage as the athlete with too much tension. The key for each athlete is to learn where the exact mixture of relaxation and tension lies. This is where the Clinical Sports Psychologist with hypnosis training can really help the athlete zone in on that level and learn to modify it as game conditions warrant. Too much tension is lowered by deep breathing and calming thoughts and not enough tension is raised by jumping, exercises, etc. to raise the heart beat.

Goal setting, while a left brain activity, is closely linked with right brain activities, such as emotions, patience, optimism and learning to overcome obstacles. These are also key skills that the Sports Psychologist can teach the athlete.

In addition, there are many issues in an athlete’s life that can impact her/his sports performance. Relationship stressors, personality traits (e.g., perfectionism, anger vulnerability), attention deficits, mood changes, and the lack of life skills (e.g., assertiveness) are just a few of the factors that can dramatically impact ones performance on the playing field. Consequently, a comprehensive initial history and mental status exam is necessary in order to plan the treatment. In fact, many parents bring their youngsters to me in order to teach them life skills that will also be used in their sport. For example, the young athlete who gets overly anxious during competition also gets overly anxious prior to taking a test. The same coping skills can be taught for both issues.

Perhaps the best right brain skill the athlete can learn is self-hypnosis and visualization. I have referred to these skill sets as the “unfair advantage,” because they really propel athletes to enhance their performance.

Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Sep 13

Losing Your Cool During Competition: Just Part of the Game or Unresolved Anger Management Issues?

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , Stress

By Dr. Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Certified Sports Psychologist

Serena WilliamsThere are plenty of episodes of athletes out of control . . . Serena Williams has a complete meltdown in front of thousands of her fans at the U.S. Open. Oregon football player LaGarette Blount punches a Boise State player after a frustrating game and then losing his cool with a fan. A 2004 melee between the Detroit Pistons and Indian Pacers, where fans were also involved. And a few seasons ago, a brawl between most of the football players from the University of Miami and FIU.

Often athletes who engage in out-of-control behaviors rationalize that everyone in the situation would react that way. Obviously, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, where athletes are provoked continuously and most do not melt down. Another rationalization is that in hockey, for example, fighting is often encouraged by coaches and is condoned as a motivational technique. Research was conducted over the course of one hockey season, in which the numbers of fighting penalties among NHL teams were matched up with their league standings. The results showed a strong NEGATIVE relationship between the number of fighting penalties and the teams’ standings!

Typical justifications for fighting take the form of “I need to stand up for our teammates, or I’ll look soft,” “You can’t embarrass us in our house,” and “You need to respect me as a man/woman.” The sad fact is that emotional meltdowns always trump intelligence.

So, given that there are hundreds of provocations made to elite athletics each season, why do some athletes melt down, while others don’t? The answer lies in team leadership, from the manager/coach to the team captains and whether anger proneness is recognized early on and treated in a proactive manner or ignored. And for individual melt downs, the answer lies in an athlete understanding the triggers to their own anger.

Anger mastery programs help. Once such program is my athletes Anti-Provocation Training (APTitude)Program.

This program is based on the athlete learning the exact triggers which provoke his/her anger and temporary loss of control. For example, in Serena’s case, I’m sure that her embarrassment while her match was in jeopardy (to huge underdog Kim Clijsters) set her up for losing control of her emotions and the unusual and rare foot fault penalty put her over the top.

Once the athlete recognizes his/her trigger points, alternative thought patterns are taught and rehearsed, so that the “bang-bang” reaction is interrupted by a more rational thought and plan of action.

My program involves a ten-step strategy, where the end result is calmer heads prevailing, separation skills, active listening skills and an immediate cooling down.

For more information on Dr. Jack Singer’s Anti-Provocation Training (APTitude) Programs please call toll free at 1-800-497-9880.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

**You have permission to reprint in your publication or to your website/blog any articles by Dr.Jack Singer found on this Website as long as Dr. Jack Singer’s name and contact information is included. Jack Singer, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Pyschologist, Sport Psychologist, Marriage, Family & Relationship Therapist, Professional Motivational Speaker. http://drjacksinger.com, toll free 800-497-9880.

Aug 13

The Terrific Power of Optimism in Sports Success

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology

Wise old Abe Lincoln described a pessimist as someone who “finds difficulty in every opportunity,” while an optimist is someone who “finds opportunity in every difficulty.”  This principle is particularly true in athletics.   Much research has shown that athletes and teams that have an optimistic interpretation of their performance (especially after losing) will consistently outperform those who view their performance and losses from a negative, pessimistic perspective.

Sports Success with Sport Psychologist Dr. Jack SingerPESSIMISTIC  VS. OPTIMISTIC ORIENTATIONS

The world’s expert in the study of Optimism is Dr. Martin Seligman, whose book, “Learned Optimism,” is a classic in the field. Seligman’s research shows that pessimistic athletes and teams believe that losses and even poor performance during crunch time reflect their lack of ability to succeed .  These athletes and teams have learned to feel helpless in terms of controlling their performance, and thus their success or failure.

The research shows that when these athletes are confronted by unfortunate circumstances–such as, in tennis,  a series of double faults, windy conditions or the belief that their opponent is cheating — they will weaken, get angry, tighten up and believe they cannot succeed. This self-fulfilling prophecy almost always leads to continued poor performance, so the athlete will ultimately lose the set and match.  These pessimistic thinkers don’t expect to win the next time out and with this negative expectation, they most likely will lose subsequent matches.  This, of course, reinforces their negative view of themselves and their abilities and the negativity snowball is rolling down hill.

On the other hand, optimistic athletes look at the same negative events as temporary setbacks, and as opportunities to actually re-focus and crank up their performance during the rest of the match.  They recognize that they have ultimate control over their internal dialogue and how they view negative events.  For example, they may “blame” a poor game or set on being distracted by fans cheering for their opponent or on the weather on getting irritated by the opponent cheating.  They recognize that they can now change their thinking, re-focus on their game plan, re-capture the momentum and still grasp victory. Even if they eventually lose the match, these optimistic thinkers understand how to change their internal dialogue prior to and during their next match.  Accordingly, these players will go into the next match expecting success and will usually win!

WHAT COACHES NEED TO KNOW

There are wonderfully researched, brief methods available to determine whether a person (or even a team) is oriented more toward optimism or pessimism.  This is great news for both the athlete and his/her coach:

  • All other things being equal, coaches should concentrate on recruiting athletes who are optimistically oriented.  They are definitely more successful over time than are pessimistically oriented athletes;
  • For athletes already on a tennis team, learning their orientation can help the coach make better decisions related to spot positions and substitutions.
  • The really good news is that a pessimistic orientation is a learned phenomenon.  Therefore, once the athlete understands her/his degree of pessimistic thinking, there are excellent programs for retraining that athlete to develop an optimistic orientation.  This will definitely lead to improved and more consistent performance.
  • Entire teams can learn how to interpret defeat in an optimistic way.  This is a powerful and proven tool for improving team performance, particularly after a tough loss.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

**You have permission to reprint in your publication or to your website/blog any articles by Dr.Jack Singer found on this Website as long as Dr. Jack Singer’s name and contact information is included. Jack Singer, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Pyschologist, Sport Psychologist, Marriage, Family & Relationship Therapist, Professional Motivational Speaker. http://drjacksinger.com, toll free 800-497-9880.