Category: Mindset Training

The NCAA Men’s National Championship: Does Mental Toughness Really Play a Role?

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

NCAA Championship Mindset – Who get’s the one shining moment?

Punching their tickets to the Final Four Championship game, Virginia and Texas Tech have battled seven rounds to stand centre court at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Monday night.

Each earning their first trip to the final four, Virginia and Texas Tech have more than strong physical game. Getting through the best 68 teams in the nation requires a highly practiced mental process.

Virginia’s disappointing first round exit last year to final moments of this year’s semi-final win vs. Auburn is resiliency in action.  The Cavaliers are proving that the power of a practiced mental game is giving them the edge in a tournament of the nations best.

Big 12 Champions, Texas Tech have mindset as solid as their ‘swarm defence’. Staying composed under the pressure of Tom Izzo’s Michigan State in their semi-final win over the Spartans,  Texas Tech’s players and coaches stay focused in the moment.

“Just what we do everyday.… Our toughness, our grit to fight every 40 minutes, every possession.” – Odiase, Forward Texas Tech

Mentally tough individuals are motivated by things they can control.  This means that they trust a “process” in which they go out and practice and compete.  The process includes the coach, individual, and team.  Players keep their efforts within the process so they can adjust, they can keep pressure situations simple, and they can play with unwavering intensity because they trust and have trained in this process.

Monday night’s game is sure to provide one thing: an unwavering intensity on both sides of the ball.

Regardless of talent or how beat up their bodies are after grinding through March Madness, mental toughness will determine who gets the final ‘one shining moment’.

 

Player Development and Mental Skills: Why Does It Matter?

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

The Why:  

When you think of any sport, there are always fundamentals and strategy that come into play.  There are roles and responsibilities, specific skills, things to focus on, adrenaline spikes, fatigue, ups and downs, and these are just the demands that occur during one performance.  We spend so much of our training and efforts around learning how to do the task, that we forget to consider the demands we face while performing under pressure.  At Premier Sport Psychology, we teach coaches and athletes how to implement processes around training for BOTH the tasks and demands of their sport.  In doing so, you have a structured process for program and player development to reach an optimal level of consistent high performance.

The What:

Mental skills are designed to help athletes organize what they are learning from their coaches and cope with the demands of performing under pressure.  Therefore, mental skills are either organizational or motivational in nature.

  1. Organizational – Organizational mental skills help athletes develop structures around their development.  These skills bring attention to detail how they train for competition in order to keep their efforts in areas that they can control.  Some examples of organizational mental skills include:
    1. Goal-Setting
    2. Focus and Attention
    3. Mental Rehearsal
  2. Motivational – Motivational mental skills help athletes manage the demands and challenges they encounter during performances.  These skills help athletes raise their awareness, problem solve, adjust and maintain motivation after mistakes are made.  Some examples of motivational mental skills include:
    1. Confidence
    2. Mindful Behavior
    3. Self-Talk

The How:  

At Premier Sport Psychology, we find that many athletes are in one of three stages (Defining their process, Refining their process, or Mastering their process).  Use the questions below to identify which stage your child falls under in order to help your child develop a plan.

  1. What are the tasks you are expected to perform within your sport?   (If team sport, break down the positional fundamentals/tasks)
  2. What are the biggest challenges or annoyances you experience that hinder your ability to perform?  (During a game or over the season)
  3. What structures do you have in place to improve these areas?

Summary:

After answering the questions above, which areas need more specific strategies?  Can they be addressed by you?  Or the coach?  Or are the areas a bit more subjective?  Leveraging a sport psychologist or mental skills coach can help you and your child fill in those gaps and identify a clear path to high level performance.

 

Bonus Material:  One of the key components of developing peak performance is develop strong habits with your attention.  Click our link below to visit our Premier Mindset Program site and subscribe to our mailing list to download a free focus exercise to start training today!

Get the Free Focus Exercise here!

 

 

Olympians: Performing Under Pressure

By: Premier Intern Staff

Olympians: Performing Under Pressure 

It takes many qualities to be an Olympian; passion, determination, motivation, commitment, discipline and consistency to name a few. One important mental skill that can often be overlooked in Olympic athletes’ is mental toughness.

Mental toughness is described as the ability to cope with pressure, adversity and stress (Bull, 1996). After spending a lifetime of training and perfecting form for a single opportunity to compete in an Olympic games, Olympians can understandably feel an intense amount of pressure and stress when it comes time for their final performance. Research shows that athletes achieve the best performance results when they have more mental toughness, as measured by commonly associated attributes (Bull, 1996).

Mental strength and awareness influences many underlying mechanisms that operate in a combination to achieve a successful mindset and performance outcome. Every practice and competition begins with the way an athlete thinks and what their mindset is focused on. The quality of our thoughts is critical and can often attribute to our success or our shortcomings.

Being able to perform under pressure, such as competing at the 2018 Olympics, involves years of concentration, determination, and stability of a positive attitude to obtain mental strength. Just like practicing physical skills, practicing mental skills such as dealing with stress, performance setbacks, bad weather conditions or fatigue can impact performance. The quality of an Olympian that makes them so successful is that regardless of any implications standing in their way, they stand in the face of adversity and remain confident in their skills.  

Mental toughness is a skill any athlete can acquire that can help to positively influence performance. Studies conducted at Staffordshire University showed that athletes with high levels of confidence and control reported feeling less physical discomfort during competition and higher levels of concentration than those who had less confidence (Hamilton, 2015). This evidence supports the importance of mental toughness for performance and how significant it is to believe in yourself and your abilities.

 

References

Bull, S. J., Albinson, J. G., & Shambrook, C. J. (1996). The mental game plan: Getting psyched for sport. Eastbourne, UK: Sports Dynamics.

Hamilton, M. (2015) “How Much Does Mental Toughness Affect Race Times?” Runner’s World, 26 May 2015, www.runnersworld.com/newswire/how-much-does-mental-

toughness-affect-race-times.

 

 

 

The Super Bowl: Playing to Win or to Improve?

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

If you live in Minnesota, odds are you know Super Bowl VII will be held at US Bank stadium on February 4th. What you may not know is the driving force behind these teams that makes them so successful. Motivation style plays a huge role in performance outcome. Is it more important to have a drive to win or a drive to improve?

Any team that has made it to the Super Bowl would say it is more important to win. What many teams do not know is that performance is linked to motivation style, and according to research athletes are more successful when they are motivated to improve rather than to win (Vallerand, 2012). Motivation purely to win can actually result in a poorer performance from the athlete due to pressure from uncontrolled outcomes.

Improvement may not be the main goal for many athletes or teams competing in the Super Bowl, however, it may be the key to victory. According to the Theory of Self-Determination, athletes perform better when they are intrinsically motivated, for example by a desire to improve, compared to being extrinsically motivated by an outcome such as wining (Cameron, 1999).

When athletes are extrinsically motivated it means their motivation comes from an outside source, such as winning. This may lead athletes to feel as though their behavior is controlled by external, material rewards like trophies, scholarships, or recognition. Therefore, their personal motivation level decreases and can lead to a loss of interest, value, and effort resulting in higher anxiety, poor sportsmanship, and decreased performance outcome (Vallerand, 2012). This being said, if an athlete plays in the Super Bowl with the mindset of wanting to win rather than wanting to improve, their performance can suffer and may cost them the game.

Intrinsic motivation is just the opposite; athletes participate in a sport for internal enjoyment and satisfaction through skill improvement and personal growth resulting in an increased confidence level, reduced stress from mistakes, and an overall higher satisfaction in the game (Vallerand, 2012). The behaviors associated with those who are intrinsically motivated are more self-determination and fulfillment in their sport (Cameron, 1999). These behaviors allow athletes to grow and improve their focus and performance without the worry of external factors such as the pressure of winning or any other outside expectations. These behaviors are related to growth mindset; the belief that abilities are developed through dedication and hard work.

The motivation style each team chooses can immensely influence the outcome of the game. Motivation is the force that drives athletes to succeed both physically and mentally and will be a key factor in the outcome of Super Bowl VII.

 

 

Mental Toughness A Myth Or A Must In Hockey?

Without question, playing hockey requires toughness.

But that’s toughness of the physical variety — defined by the ability to take and deliver a hit, to hold your ground in the crease or the corners, to leap over the boards for one more shift when your legs and lungs are screaming “no.”

What of mental toughness? Maybe more to the point: What is mental toughness?

Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi defined it thusly: “Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind — you could call it character in action.”

Feelings Aren’t Facts

Some sports psychologists will tell you mental toughness is a myth, arguing that convincing yourself to be constantly tough is to live perpetually in denial, and further such denial is a tacit admission that you don’t know how to handle negative thoughts and emotions. Some would argue the semantical flip side, that what the above argument describes — conceding you have to learn to handle those perfectly natural thoughts and emotions — is the very definition of, or at least the pathway to, true mental toughness.

Perhaps, though, mental toughness is best thought of in terms of Mark Twain’s classic definition of courage: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

Components Of Mental Toughness

Complete mental toughness is the sum of many parts, but no one ingredient is more essential than preparation. An athlete who knows he has given his best to prepare his body will not doubt its readiness for those “crunch time” moments that arrive in every contest. And an athlete who has given his best to prepare his mind will trust conscious training that has become subconscious instinct.

So, it takes work. But work on what? What are the components of mental toughness? It depends on whom you ask.

Some cite determination, concentration, self-confidence and poise. Others prefer flexibility, responsiveness, strength, courage, ethics and sportsmanship. Nearly everything you’ll see on the subject of mental toughness, however, will deal in some way with the notion of resiliency, or failing well.

This is to say, learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make them (as long as you’ve not crossed that line from max effort to out of control). Be ready to endure the downs that inevitably arrive, remain optimistic, and be willing to make adjustments.

Head Games and Hockey Games

On the ice, opportunities to be mentally tough will manifest in essentially three ways:

When factors are out of your control: A mentally weak player will give full throat to his displeasure over a lousy referee — no doubt creating a ref willing to give him more reasons to yell. A mentally strong player will realize most refs, if they know they’ve blown a call, will try to even it up — and if the refs are just bad, it’ll even up naturally.

Similarly, concede that there are other things out of your control — ice conditions (hey, they’re the same for everybody), hostile crowds (won’t it be great to shut them up?) — that can be viewed either as bad breaks or opportunities for greatness.

When you’re off your game: This goes back to preparation. Do you know why 3-point shooters in basketball can keep shooting even though the best of them miss more than half their shots? Because they’ve seen thousands go in at practice. They always believe they’re going to make the next one.

Confidence comes from preparation. Preparation doesn’t guarantee you will never fail, but it helps you bounce back when failure inevitably arrives.

When you’re in pain: We’ve all been hurt enough to be affected by the injury, but not so hurt as to stop playing. In those moments, we turn to our minds — our mental toughness — to get us through.

Distance runners might close out thoughts of pain by consciously running for all those who can’t, but hockey players might better concentrate on “why.”

Not “why am I doing this?” Don’t ask in the moment. Know before you step on the ice. Your “why” is your strength.

Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. Lee was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and has yet to put it down. He played hockey at Illinois State University while earning his bachelor’s degree in marketing. 

At Premier Sport Psychology, we help athlete’s train their mind to manage fears and still perform under pressure, on demand, and when fatigued. To work on your mental toughness and other mindset skills, check out our Mindset Training Program at https://www.mindsetprogram.com

 

Selective Attention in Irish Dance

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

Just over 3,000 Irish dancers from all regions of the world flocked to New Orleans early this month for the North American Irish Dance Championships, the biggest Irish dance event of the summer. As dancers and spectators walked into one of the many ballrooms, they were immediately blinded by the sparkling dresses and the curly wigs of those competing. In the front of the room, competitors danced on the raised stage with seven snappily dressed judges watching, pens positioned to write their comments.

There are thousands of distractions for the dancers on stage. The audience talking, the other dancers practicing backstage, the sparkles shining off of the bright stage lights, and the thoughts circling inside their heads are some of the many distractions dancers face. One of the most potentially harmful distractions in all of Irish dance, though, is the competitor dancing alongside you on stage. The question posed is how can you focus on your own dancing when your competitor is on the stage at the same time as you, dancing to the same music, but doing a different dance? It seems almost impossible to ignore the thought of accidentally colliding with him or her. Not only do you have to perform your own dance to the best of your ability, you have to dodge the other competitor while doing so. How can you pay attention to your competitor while still maintaining focus on the task in front of you? It ultimately comes down to this question: what are the right things to focus on and how do you focus on those things alone?  We call this selective attention, and it is a critical skill to optimizing your performance in any skill or setting.

There are many uncontrollable parts of dancing, but luckily, your focus is one thing that you can control. Thousands of pieces of information are processed by your brain each and every day, and every second you can actively choose to focus on one specific thing and attempt to tune out all other background information. With all of the competing stimuli around you, thoughts that are not relevant to your performance are inevitably going to run through your head. For example, an Irish dancer on stage may think about what that other dancer on stage is doing. How you respond to that thought is crucial. Acknowledge that thought, whether good or bad, and then let it go. Because focus is a limited resource for the human brain, realizing what thoughts are necessary for performance and what thoughts are not is imperative to focus.

One way to improve your focus is to plan ahead and recognize, before you begin a performance, what will distract you and what will help you during the performance. In the context of an Irish dance performance, a dancer may note that worrying about running into her competitor will distract her during the performance.  Planning ahead and knowing that this distraction may occur will help the dancer to acknowledge the thought and then let it go, making room in her window of focus for constructive thoughts which will help performance. Constructive thoughts for an Irish dancer may include aspects of dancing that the dancer can control, such as foot placement and navigating around the competitor.

Lastly, it is important to remember that improving focus requires persistence. Even with training, your focus may occasionally drift, especially when your mind is tired. Training your mind to refocus when you start to concentrate on thoughts irrelevant to your performance is key. Refocus yourself by concentrating on behaviors that you can control and that will be helpful and relevant to your performance.

Focus is not just important for Irish dancers, though. Every sport has hundreds of distractions calling to the athlete from all sides. Every task you perform has the possibility of being impacted by the many distractions around you. Zoning in on what is important, recognizing what is not, and being able to refocus your attention helps to organize the thousands of bits of information that the world is throwing at you into productive and useful thoughts that can move you forward.

 

References:

“Mindset Training Program: Focus.”  Premier Sport Psychology.

Goleman, D. (2014). Focus: the hidden driver of excellence. New Delhi: Bloomsbury Publishing      India.

 

The Use of Psychological Profiling in Drafting

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

There is more science behind the NFL drafting process than one may think, for psychologists have discovered new ways to help coaches assess which players are more or less likely to succeed in the NFL based on the psychological and behavioral qualities that they bring to the table. These qualities are exposed by mental assessments that key in on facets such as mental speed, behavioral traits, impact traits, learning traits, and cognitive functions that would not otherwise be visible to the eye. One specific test that has assessed more than 10,000 past and current NFL players is called the TAP (Troutwine Athletic Profile) (Duncan, 2014). Used by approximately 95% of current NFL franchises, the TAP allows coaches to not only see whether a player will fit well with their team, it also compares the mental profile of the draftee with previous successful and unsuccessful NFL players, to see where they rank with regard to their overall mental capabilities (Athletic Types, 2016). Pretty cool huh?

So what kind of mental and behavioral qualities are coaches looking for based on previous successful NFL players?

One important quality picked up by the TAP is “drive”. Coaches are ultimately seeking players who continually look for ways to push and challenge themselves, not because of any external rewards that are on the line, but because they are internally driven to improve. They want players who are intrinsically motivated to train and play hard even when there is nobody watching.  Players who display this kind of drive make their teammates around them better, and create an atmosphere of integrity and tenacity both in the weight room and out on the field.

Another key quality that coaches are looking for is coachability. A player who has a high level of coachability is someone who is willing to listen to and internalize any feedback that the coach has to give. They use positive feedback to reinforce productive habits, and accept constructive criticism as a tool to make corrections and enhance their play. Because of their natural humility and openness to feedback, every bit of additional information that they can get from coach is wanted. Now, “being coachable doesn’t mean you have surrendered and don’t have an opinion of your own. It means you have the awareness, perseverance and determination to seek out someone to help you be better” (Probert, 2016).  Coaches appreciate players who are receptive to their coaching, and who readily adapt to their roles within the coach’s schemes.

One final quality that coaches are looking for in an athlete’s psychological profile is the ability to communicate effectively.  On the football field, this skill is particularly important for quarterbacks. In fact, the TAP helped the Colts select Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf in the 1998 NFL Draft as a result of his promising scores in communication, focus, and preparation (Athletic Types, 2016).  “Although Ryan Leaf was the stronger athlete in many respects, he turned out to have a 10-cent emotional quotient to go with his million-dollar arm” (Haberman, 2014).  These emotional dynamics were picked up by the TAP, and helped lead the Colts away from Leaf and toward Manning, who became one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

Although there are additional qualities that could be added to this list, I encourage you to assess where you fall within these three metrics, and incorporate them into your life on and off the field.  The drive to improve, a commitment to mindset training, and the ability to listen and to learn from feedback, both positive and corrective, are deal-makers for NFL prospects.  They can be for you, too.

 

References:

Duncan, D. (2014). Hiring A New Team Player? Lessons From The NFL Draft

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rodgerdeanduncan/2014/05/04/hiring-a-new-team-player-lessons-from-the-nfl-draft/#2ac87a557077

Athletic Types. (2016). About the TAP

http://athletetypes.com/about-tap/

Probert, L. (2016). What it Means to be Coachable and Why You Should Care.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-probert-mpt/what-it-means-to-be-coachable-and-why-you-should-care_b_9178372.html

Athletic Types. (2016). TAP History

http://athletetypes.com/company/

 

 

Adversity: (N.) Fortunate Misfortune

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

Imagine that right now, you are given a piece of paper. On this paper is a list, and this list contains all of the painful, frustrating, and heartbreaking experiences that you will have within the future of your athletic career. You are then given the option to cross off any or all of the items, thereby eliminating them from your life’s timeline and saving yourself from facing these setbacks down the road. Would you do so? Or what if: you are given the list, but you cannot change anything on it. You can, however, move to a new sport so as to avoid these otherwise inevitable experiences. Would you change sports in hopes of finding a smoother, more pleasant path toward your ultimate goals

Assuming that your desire is to maximize overall success, and that you want to become the best athlete you can be, you should have answered “no” to these questions. (This is also assuming that the setbacks are not so disabling as to cause PTSD or long-term trauma, as not all adversity has positive outcomes.) However, if you replied with “yes” to either of them, don’t be so hard on yourself. It is our natural instinct as humans to avoid danger and pain, so of course you wouldn’t look at that list and automatically shout, “Yes! I really want to go through all of these horrible events!” Yet…are they really so horrible? In the moment, yes, they very likely are. But with one or more people who are there to support you, and with the prerequisite skills and attitudes, these events are actually not horrible in the long run. In fact, they are beneficial, as they will likely move you further toward your goals than you may have travelled otherwise (Savage, Collins, & Cruickshank, 2017)

To gain an understanding as to why exactly this is, let’s step back for a moment and take a look at what can occur when an athlete experiences a setback. Let’s say, for example, that you get sick, and it’s the middle of the season. You are forced to sit out and rest until you recover, and this is likely frustrating in and of itself. But then when you return to practice, you are significantly weaker, and you feel as though you lost all the endurance that you had worked so hard to build up throughout the past few months. At this point, you essentially have two options. You can throw in the towel and give up on the season. Or, despite feeling angry and disappointed, you can proceed to work relentlessly—not only toward the level which you were once at, but also toward surpassing this level and becoming even greater. In this scenario, you choose the latter. You are somewhat disheartened, but your unwavering desire to reach your goals drives a determination within you which is greater than your sense of defeat.

Later in your career, you are able to see the full picture when looking back. Getting sick in the heart of the season had seemed like a purely unfortunate event. Nothing good came of it at the time. You couldn’t change it, so you gave all that you had in your fight to return to the top. And maybe the season didn’t turn out the way that you had hoped, but you now realize that you augmented your resilience and mental toughness as a result of the way in which you dealt with the setback. The overall payoff thus proved itself to be greater in magnitude than the initial negative impact of the adversity (Savage et al., 2017).

There are three aspects of this example which are important to recognize. First, when faced with the decision as to whether you wanted to confront the challenge head-on or accept the misfortune, you strengthened your resolve and chose the former. This decision was made by you, not for you (i.e., by someone else). Second, when struggling to get back on your feet and working through the grind, you employed the skills, attitude, and knowledge which you already had, including the initiative to seek external support (e.g., from family members, coaches, or trained psychologists). Even before this incident, you were a motivated, resilient, hard-working, and mentally tough athlete. It is also likely that you had previously witnessed others bounce back from injury or illness, so you had a sense of what it would take. And third, you learned from your experience by subsequently reflecting upon it, thus adding to the personal growth with which it enabled you (Savage et al., 2017).

Though it’s tempting, you should not erase your future adversities from that theoretical list. Similarly, it is not advantageous for you to constantly avoid situations which yield the possibility of failure or disappointment. Frustration and heartbreak can work to your benefit in the long run, given that you have the necessary mental tools and prior skillset to navigate them and pick yourself back up. These skills are consequently refined and strengthened, and your experience becomes a resource that you can draw upon when faced with adversity down the road. As such, setbacks cause an initial drop in perceived performance potential, but their subsequent rebounds exceed the magnitude of the drop (Savage et al., 2017).

Competition is not easy—physically or mentally. When things get tough, you need to be tough, too. Being faced with a major obstacle can at times, though, be tremendously upsetting; it can be scary, or stressful, or simply exhausting. But here’s the beautiful thing about pain: it can help you learn, it can help you grow, and it can be the catalyst for accomplishments that you had once never imagined possible.

 

Savage, J., Collins, D., & Cruickshank, A. (2017). Exploring traumas in the development of talent: what are they, what do they do, and what do they require? Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 29(1), 101-117. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10413200.2016.1194910

 

Perfectionism and Burnout: There’s More to it Than You Think

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

Burnout—as an athlete, this word carries with it associations of apprehension and dread. We hear warnings about the phenomenon from coaches and teammates alike, and we see its effects when the most hard-working, success-driven athlete—whom we would least expect to quit—suddenly decides that they no longer want to compete. The emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion which comes with prolonged exposure to stress and pressure is all too common in high-level athletics. This leaves many of us asking: what puts us at risk for burnout, and more importantly—how might we be able to avoid it?

Motivation is a key player in any athlete’s drive to compete and perform. Aside from looking at whether or not an athlete has a high level of motivation, though, we need to consider the type of motivation which fuels the athlete. And, as it is fundamentally linked to motivation, we must evaluate whether the athlete is perfectionistic in nature (Barcza-Renner, Eklund, Morin, & Habeeb, 2016). Now, you might be thinking, “Well, if an athlete is highly motivated, that means they’re more likely to be a perfectionist, and these factors put them more at risk for burnout.” Not quite. Burnout risk depends on the source of a person’s motivation, and the motivation source characterizes the form of perfectionism which is likely to be manifested in their mindset. In other words, ‘being a perfectionist’ in some cases equates to having a high risk of burnout, and in other cases it does not. By looking at the source of an athlete’s motivation, we can identify whether their perfectionistic tendencies are working for or against the likelihood of both their success and adherence to sport in the long run.

There are two primary forms of motivation: autonomous and controlled. Autonomous motivation is essentially synonymous with intrinsic motivation, in which one performs an act simply for the sake of performing the act and the pleasure they take in doing so. Controlled motivation, on the other hand, can be found in athletes who have fewer self-determined reasons for participation and whose behaviors and decisions are contingent upon external sources (e.g. rewards, punishments) (Barcza-Renner et al., 2016). When a perfectionistic athlete is autonomously motivated, their perfectionism is intrapersonal; they have an inherent, compulsive striving towards perfection. This is referred to as self-oriented perfectionism. On the contrary, an athlete driven by controlled motivation who exhibits perfectionistic tendencies can be said to have socially prescribed perfectionism. The standards which this athlete strives towards are perceived to be externally imposed by someone whom the athlete respects and desires to please (Barcza-Renner et al., 2016).

Just as being highly motivated does not make you a perfectionist, being a perfectionist does not necessarily put you at a higher risk for burnout. If you are an intrinsically-motivated, or self-driven, individual (i.e. you are driven by autonomous motivation), then being a perfectionist is not likely to be a contributing cause to future burnout. But if you are a perfectionistic individual whose motivation is based upon external sources (i.e. you are driven by controlled motivation), then it is likely that you are predisposed to experiencing burnout somewhere down the line in your athletic career (Barcza-Renner et al., 2016).

Understanding the difference between autonomous and controlled motivation is key in beginning to protect oneself from experiencing future burnout. If you are not autonomously motivated, and you are able to recognize that your perfectionistic tendencies are fueled by external sources rather than your desire to do things for their inherent pleasure, then you have taken the first step in working to avoid burnout. The next step would be to change this. Knowing that your motivation source may be harmful isn’t enough. You need to work to redefine success as enjoying what you do—not because you are fulfilling someone else’s standards or goals, but because you yourself are feeling fulfilled. After all, in the face of adversity, it is our will to hold onto what we love which ultimately gets us through.

 

Barcza-Renner, K., Eklund, R. C., Morin, A. J. S., & Habeeb, C. M. (2016). Controlling coaching behaviors and athlete burnout: investigating the mediating roles of perfectionism and motivation. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 38, 30-44. http://dx.doi.org/10.1123/jsep.2015-0059

 

Rivalry: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

We’ve all heard our coach say, “We are going up against our biggest rivals tonight. Let’s go out there and beat them!” Our rivals may be our greatest enemy, but they are also our best motivators. Why else would we fight so hard to beat them? If we didn’t have any rivals, there would be no one to play against. Rivalries can actually boost our performance in sport, business, and everyday life because everyone has that drive to be the best. Multiple studies have shown that rivalry increases both effort and performance. “An analysis of competitive runners showed that they shaved more than four seconds per kilometer off their times when a rival was in the same race,” (Hutson, 2014).

Rivalry has also shown to increase motivation, group cohesion, and patriotism. Sounds pretty good, right? There can be a downside to rivalries when they get taken too far. If too much focus is placed on beating our rivals, we can develop something called “tunnel vision”. “When success is measured solely by how one stacks up against a single competitor, it can lead to a preoccupation that turns on the blinders to other competitive threats,” (Entis, 2015). By focusing on only beating our rivals, are we holding ourselves to the highest standard of greatness? If we pay too much attention to the outcome of beating a rival, we may forget about the process of how to get there. This can be discouraging and lead to feelings of hostility, resentment, and envy. Rivalries are important for competition, but if taken too far they can be detrimental. Next time you are going up against your rival, be thankful for them. That may sound silly, but they are the ones who push you to become better. Also, remember to keep your eyes open and be observant. Even if you are focused on your rivals, there may be another team/individual sneaking up in your blind spot. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the competition. A good rivalry can be fun and hopefully creates a positive atmosphere for your sport. Valentino Rossie once said, “The great fights with your strongest rivals are always the biggest motivation. When you win easily it’s not the same taste.” Keep this in mind the next time you step on the field, court, course, ski hill, rink, or track with your biggest rival!