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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.

Jun 30

Advising the Advisors – Part 2

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors , Financial Advisors , Stress

Buffer Yourself Against The Real Cause of All of Your Stress

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

In my initial article Advising the Advisors – Part 1, I talked about the surveys done with financial advisors right after the 2008 financial crisis and the alarming percentage of advisors who actually suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result. We don’t know how many advisors actually retired or tried to change their careers in response to the stress they endured, but in an effort to avoid or escape stress many people (not only advisors, of course) change careers. That certainly introduces new stressors, and so the cycle continues.

The good news is that anyone can learn how to buffer themselves against any stressor, and thus avoid making dramatic, and sometimes disastrous, career decisions as a result.

First, recognize the real source of your stress. “Stress” is an overused term, yet in our competitive and impatient culture, and with chaos rampant around the globe, examples of stress are with us constantly. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually for stress-related medical insurance claims, workers’ compensation benefits, reduced productivity, poor product quality, absenteeism, spillover into marital and family problems, and even drug and alcohol abuse, which is often a desperate attempt to cope with the stress. Stress symptoms may include, anxiety, fear, depression, burnout, and a whole host of possible physical symptoms. Stress has even surpassed the common cold as the most prevalent health problem in America!

For most of us, work challenges, managing our teens, and pleasing our spouses represent daily stressors. But these potentially negative events, do not cause stress! It is our perception of the events—our thoughts about those events—that determines whether or not we will experience stress as a result.

Negative events do not cause stress. Most people assume that specific events—particularly negative ones– that they are faced with “cause” their stress. For example, the economic disaster of 2008 was a series of “events,” none of which directly caused stress for advisors. It was not the events, per se, but each advisor’s perception of those events and the simultaneous the“self-talk” that the advisor engaged in during and following those events that determined whether or not the advisor experienced stress, and how much.

Your feelings of stress, including all of the symptoms mentioned above, are not directly caused by the necessity to make cold calls, generate referrals, market fluctuations, disgruntled clients, fiduciary and compliance hassles, etc. These events may invite you to feel stressed, but they do not cause stress. Specifically, your perception of these situations and what you say to yourself about them determines whether or not you will suffer from stress symptoms. If you perceive potentially stress-causing events in a negative, self-defeating, pessimistic, or overwhelming sense, you will certainly become stressed.
However, if you perceive those same events as challenges which you will be able to master and give yourself positive, empowering, optimistic thoughts about them, your stress will be markedly reduced.

Here is an example of an event that actually took place in my life. I was booked to be the opening general session speaker for an important financial advisor’s conference. Attendees had flown in from all over the country for this conference. Soon after I landed at the first airport where I was to transfer for my final flight, a major storm moved into the area, grounding all flights for the remainder of the day and night. It became clear that I would be able to get to the conference in time to open it the next morning.

While one might consider this situation to be extremely “stressful,” the situation, per se, would not be the source of my stress. What I said to myself about the situation would determine how stressed I would feel.

For example, if I was worried about upsetting the meeting planner and leaving the audience hanging, that would cause me to feel symptoms of stress.

To continue my example, when I learned that the flight was cancelled (the negative event), I had a choice regarding what I could say to myself. One option is: “Oh, that’s just great…now I won’t make the meeting, everyone is there expecting a rousing keynote, they’ll be disappointed and the meeting planner for the conference will be so angry at me that she’ll never book me to conduct a program again.”

Such a negative, self-defeating statement would immediately activate the nervous system necessary to deal with life-threatening situations, my brain would conclude that I was in an emergency and my body would react accordingly. My blood pressure would rise, my anxiety spike, and my behavior might become irrational…all resulting from my worried perception of a situation over which I had no control.

You do have control over your self-talk. This is really important to remember. Although we are creatures of habit, we can learn to change any habit that causes stress for us. In fact, in her wonderful little book, Change Almost Anything in 21 Days, Ruth Fishel describes research that shows how quickly people can change their stress producing self-talk.

Back to my example, suppose that when I learned that the flight was cancelled, I said to myself the following: “It is what it is! This is really unfortunate and I feel badly that I will not be there on time, but it is absolutely beyond my control. I will phone the meeting planner right away and see if she would like me to find a substitute speaker who is based in the city where the conference is being held.”

Also, I could have suggested, “Perhaps we can postpone my keynote until the last day of the Conference, when I will definitely be able to get there.”

If these possibilities were not acceptable, I could have even suggested that, “I can do the keynote through a tele-conference via Skype, for example. That way, with the audience all situated in the meeting room, I can arrange to do the keynote by interactive television and have a dialogue, etc..” I could even have used this example with them when I discussed how their self-talk always determines their emotional, attitudinal and behavioral responses to dramatic events, over which they have no control!

Bringing this example into the everyday realm of the financial advisor, consider getting a message from your assistant that your least favorite client is angry about how poorly the last product/equity you recommended is doing in the current, downward market and he wants you to call him as soon as possible.

Again, this potentially negative event does not have to be stressful, depending on the self-talk in which you engage. For example, you could say to yourself: “I hate it when this client gets angry whenever the market dips and he blames me. I would like to dump him and suggest he find another advisor.” Just imagine how your stress and anxiety will spike if you give yourself that message.

But, remember, you have choices. You could tell yourself that you will use the active listening skills you have learned (as detailed in an upcoming Advising the Advisors segment) to allow the client to vent, empathize with his frustration, and once he is calm, remind him how you went over the risks with him when he purchased the product/equity and that this dip in the market is like all past dips—temporary. Explain to him that your overall strategy in helping him manage and expand his wealth takes these unpredictable market dips into account and the strategy is still viable. Gently point out to him that patience will prove to be his most valuable learned skill, etc.

Using this technique you can convince yourself that, although you still wish that you didn’t have to deal with this client, you have dealt successfully with him before and you will so once again.

To conclude, the amount of stress you feel is ultimately up to you, isn’t it? Will you listen to the rational, positive voice in your head, or will you fall prey to the irrational, negative, “Internal Critic”? The choice determines your stress level and the choice is always yours!

 

Dec 10

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day: Overcoming the Top Barriers to Peak Performance

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , Sport Psychology Tip of the Day

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

Overcoming the Top Barriers to Peak Performance

[contentbox width=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”dashed” bordercolor=”000000″ dropshadow=”0″ backgroundcolor=”F5F5F5″ radius=”0″]This is the 6th 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]

Overcoming the top barriers to peak performance by Sports Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Teaching peak performance skills is the most frequent request I receive as a Sport Psychologist.

Here are 7 key barriers to achieving peak performance and proven methods for overcoming them:

  1. Inability to Get Motivated to Train.  Write down your main performance goals and the exact training regimen necessary to achieve each.  Keep track of your progress in training.
  2. Lack of Confidence. Be aware of the negative self-talk habits you use and learn a method to stop them dead in their tracks. Seek support from teammates to overcome adversity and bounce back from disappointing performances.
  3. Too Much Anxiety During Games. Recognize the worrisome thoughts that lead to worrying before and during your performances.  Learn relaxation techniques, deep breathing and even self-hypnosis to control anxiety. Always focus on the process of performing your sport…not the outcome.  Focusing on winning and the outcome subtracts from your focus on what the process of a winning performance entails.
  4. Too  Many Distractions During Your Performance. A simple formula for success holds true, regardless of your sport: Your Performance=Your Talent + Your Motivation- Distractions. The number one distraction is negative self-talk.  See number 2 above.
  5. Non-Productive Emotions. Anger, fear, worry, lack of enthusiasm, etc. are all emotions that prevent optimal performance. Understand the triggers for those emotions and you can begin to eliminate them.  Look to role models who display the emotions that lead to high performance and emulate them.  Talk to them for inspiration.
  6. Too much intensity.  Ideally, if we measure intensity on a scale from 1-10, try to stay within the 5-6 range.  Too much intensity will lead to early exhaustion.  Not enough intensity will lead to mediocre performance.  Make a plan based on your fitness and strengths and stick to it throughout the game/event.
  7. Disregarding Injuries.  A mistake that many athletes make is not giving their bodies a chance to completely heal from injury before continuing in competition.  The notion of “no pain…no gain” is archaic.  Get diagnosed early and be patient with rehab before returning.  Stop thinking about the time you’re missing, the disappointment in your coach, etc., and instead, focus on your long term plan to become even better once you are completely healed.

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.

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 21

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day: Turning Anger Into a Positive Force

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , 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 third 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 most requested services I receive from athletes of all ages and levels of skill is help controlling their anger.  This is such a common concern, that I developed an Anger Mastery hypnosis series just for this purpose.

Anger is a “normal emotion” and when controlled, can actually serve some very practical purposes, such as becoming an energizer and motivator.  You can channel the strength and energy of your angry emotions into finding a practical solution to the problems that evoked the anger.

Sport Psychology Tip of the Day with Dr. Jack SingerTechniques for Controlling and Mastering Your Anger

  1. Recognize the trigger to your anger.  Is this a recurrent situation that you need to be on the lookout for?
  2. Think of alternative responses to that trigger.  Examples are taking a series of deep breaths through your diaphragm and then giving yourself some positive self talk about how you are happy that you are controlling your reactions.
  3. Rehearse self-talk that you will use in the future, when you are provoked.  For example, “I can control myself and don’t need to react with anger.  I will be very pleased when I react with calmness.”
  4. Take charge of “should” statements.  Stop thinking about what the other player or the ref should or should not have done.
  5. Take responsibility for your angry reactions.  Instead of saying to yourself, “That guy is making me angry,” change it to “I don’t have to allow myself to feel angry when he does that.”  This gives you a feeling of control, which will lessen the probability of you reacting with anger.
  6. Discuss the triggers that provoke you with someone you trust, such as a teammate, roommate, girlfriend or counselor.  The act of discussing it my help you ultimately to let the steam out of your system and gain control.

 

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.

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!

 

 

May 10

A Young Gymnast Excels in Her Sport

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Elite Athletes

Congratulations to my mentally tough workhorse, Ashton Woodbury.

As her proud dad wrote, “Ashton had her Level 7 State Championship meet this weekend.  Going into the meet, she had 3 goals:

  1. Stay on the beam
  2. Win vault
  3. And score a 38 in the all-around (which she had never done before).

Ashton Woodbury - CA State Vault Champion. Client of sports psychologist Dr. Jack Singer.

Well, she did all three!  Ashton is the newly crowned CA State Vault Champion.  She also medaled on Bars, Floor, and Beam (all with personal bests), and was second in the All-Around with a 38.00.  Her teammate (and good friend) was the all-around champion, with a score of 38.10.”

Ashton is well on her way to gymnastics stardom.  I am so proud to have helped her along the way!

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Apr 09

Meet Ashton – A Competitive Gymnast

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

I love to share inspiring stories from my young athlete clients. Ashton is a wonderful young lady and a truly talented athlete and it is a joy working with her.

[testimonial testimonialimgurl=”” tessize=”small” style=”TG”]

Our 10 year-old daughter, Ashton, is a competitive gymnast and was excited about the beginning of her Level 7 season.  Her confidence, however, became somewhat rattled when she fell of the balance beam in consecutive meets while performing the same skill (back handspring, back handspring).

Although not devastated (she was able to hit the skill in practice with consistency), she told us she just couldn’t visualize herself doing it well in competition; she was overcome, instead, with negative thoughts.

Meeting with Dr. Jack turned out to be the best thing we did all season.  Ashton listened to the audio tape he made for her every day before practice, and before every remaining meet – and she applied the strategies that Dr. Jack had given her for overcoming her negative thoughts.  She never fell again.  In fact, at the 2012 California State Championships, Ashton medaled on the beam with her highest score of the year.

She also medaled and had personal bests on bars,  floor exercise, and vault (state champion), and finished 2nd in the all-around by a mere tenth of a point – exceeding even her expectations.  It was a wonderful season for Ashton, and she is poised for many more to come.  We are truly grateful to Dr. Jack for the time he spent with her.

[/testimonial]

Ashton Beam

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Oct 21

The Psychology of Professional Athletes

By Dr. Jack Singer | Elite Athletes

Jon Hansen interviews Sports Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer about The Psychology of Professional AthletesI will be speaking with Jon Hansen of PI Window on Business tomorrow about the Psychology of Professional Athletes.

Jon recently aired a segment on his radio show in which he had the opportunity to talk with 3 former professional football players about life after a career in professional sports.

It was a telling story in that it emphasized the fact that besides being one play away from retirement as a result of injury, the average career is but a whisp of smoke within the context of the remaining and long years that athletes face when the cheering comes to an end.  And make no mistake, as our guests stressed when your life as pro ends, it ends period.

Gone for many are the big paychecks, public recognition and the feeling of being part of a team.  In other words your life as you knew it is over.

For the majority of former pros what awaits them is unemployment, divorce, financial destitution and for some the daunting challenges of dealing with addiction.

But life doesn’t have to end up that way, as there are options for making a successful transition to a life after professional sports.

While each of the athletes had made a successful transition to new lives when their playing days came to an end, this is not the case for close to 80% of all professional players as most struggle with financial insolvency, unemployment, divorce and for many some form of addiction.

I will provide sound advice for former athletes, in fact for anyone facing a significant life change whether it be in career, financial setback or death of a partner. Please join us by clicking here to either listen in live or to download the show for future listening.

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

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

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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.

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**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.