Category: Team Culture

Stanley Cup Playoffs

By: Premier Sport Psychology

The Stanley cup is the oldest and most revered trophy in professional sports. Originally donated to the “professional hockey club of the dominion of Canada” in 1892, it has since become the crown jewel of the NHL, traveling to the headquarters of each NHL champion since 1958 (Schwartz, 2017). Players not only leave their legacies engraved upon the cup, in a tradition unique to the NHL, they are each allowed one day with the cup to celebrate how they please. The cup has traveled to Europe, been used for baptisms, schlepped up mountains, and has even been shared with the winner of the Kentucky Derby (Anderson, 2016). Yet despite its many travels and travails, there are 11 teams who have never won the Stanley Cup.  

So what helps teams and organizations put themselves into a position to raise Lord Stanley’s cup?  One philosophy and contributing factor is infusing an adaptable playing style in high pressure game situations. “What compels adaptability are two things: the skill to notice a gap between where you are and where you need to be to be effective, and the will to close that gap” (Boss, 2016).  It will not solely matter if a team has a head coach that has been to or won a cup before in order to make it there this playoff season.  It is eminently more important a coach makes it a point to tweak lines and game plans based on the strengths of the team members. An example of this is Minnesota Wild’s Bruce Boudreau’s development of an up-tempo attacking style for players like Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund who both had career-best totals last season with 42 and 44 points respectively. By using their strengths of speed and agility to their advantage, both players have already surpassed their previous season point totals with flying colors prior to reaching playoffs this season (Dowd, 2017).  

This adaptive mentality can be beneficial for all coaches and players alike. Coaches who know the chemistry of their players/team members can use adaptability as a tool to develop effective game plans for their team’s success. Additionally, when players and coaches work as a cohesive unit, adapting to each other’s strengths and weaknesses, it is then that the team is able to produce optimal levels of performance. Coaches that depend less on one or two of their players and instead adapt and mold players together will be hard to beat.

With all of that being said, coaching takes commitment and hard work-Not only to teach concepts and strategy to the players, but to really learn and understand the environment that each player thrives best in. Whether that means a player performs better with one teammate than another, or he needs the speed ramped up to be more successful, a good coach will do whatever is needed to get all players playing at their best. It may take some compromise along the way, but with the help of careful thought and deliberate change, adaptations will greatly be to the coach’s advantage.  

As the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, I encourage you all to think about ways in which you too can add adaptability into your sports repertoire. Displayed by both hockey players and coaches alike, you will find that team performance is greatly enhanced when each member can play to each other’s strengths, not just their own.

Katie Lubben

References:

Anderson, C. (2016). The 10 Craziest Stanley Cup Celebrations

http://www.goliath.com/sports/the-10-craziest-stanley-cup-celebrations/

Boss, J. (2016). The Most Effective Teams Adapt to Change

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2016/06/07/the-most-effective-teams-adapt-to-change/#6e918ad279b7

Dowd, J. (2017). The Minnesota Wild Will Avoid Its Annual Collapse This Season
http://www.hockeywilderness.com/2017/1/12/14235208/minnesota-wild-will-avoid-annual-collapse-bruce-boudreau-has-team-playing-well-coaching-life-cycle

Schwartz, J. (1997-2017). Legends of Hockey- NHL trophies- Stanley Cup https://www.hhof.com/htmlSilverware/silver_splashstanleycup.shtml

Effective Team Captains

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

Derek Jeter.  Tom Brady.  Kobe Bryant.  Three polarizing men that have forever left an imprint on the sports they play.  Regardless of your view on these three individuals, each of these athletes have shown uncommon leadership in their respective roles as team captain. Showing the kind of leadership that has transcended their position, their teams, and at times, their sports.  The influence they each have had is remarkable in that they continually made their teammates better when they stepped into the competition.  They modeled excellence in their respective sports while directing their teams toward victory, and it was the influence they possessed that made them such great captains for their teams (Hackman, 2011).  This influence can be broken into three important characteristics: care, courage, and consistency.  It is these three characteristics that make a team captain a great captain and played an important role in Derek Jeter, Tom Brady and Kobe Bryant’s lives of leadership.

Derek Jeter, a retired baseball player for the New York Yankees, has been a leader who shows he genuinely cares.  But what does it mean to care as a leader?  A study done by Lauer and Blue showed that being an effective team captain involves having an overflow of passion for teammates, the game, and competition.  This passion for one’s teammates has an elevated importance to a captain, as one task the captain often partakes of is conflict resolution.  A caring captain will show sensitivity to individual differences between teammates and will present solutions in a positive manner during times of conflict.  This individuality and positivity makes an effective leader, as it involves placing the team’s success before one’s personal desires and needs (Lauer & Blue).  Andy Pettitte, who played alongside Jeter for 13 seasons, said about his commitment, “We play in a city where a whole lot of stuff is made out of what’s going on around us.  The reason why Derek has thrived is because he keeps it simple.  He doesn’t let everything clutter his mind.  He is focused on one thing – to take care of the team’s business.  He continuously pushes everyone around him to focus even during the difficult times.  He often will take the stress upon his own shoulders so the rest of us can focus on playing” (Lennon, 2013).  Pettitte’s sentiments speak to Jeter’s ability to put the team before himself, and to be a source of clarity and discipline when distractions threaten team performance.  Many players, like Ichiro Suzuki, stayed to play with the Yankees, not because of New York or the Yankees, but because of Jeter – a player who cared (Lennon, 2013).

Courage is also a key characteristic among effective captains.  Captains are often seen as the model of excellence in a team because they step up when necessary and are not afraid to compete in the worst situations; they are known to “walk the talk” (Lauer & Blue).  A good captain sets the example for the team by displaying and encouraging the values of the team on and off the field.  Tom Brady did just that during the 2017 Super Bowl.  With the Patriots down by 25 points, Brady pulled his team together and reminded them of why they are playing in the Super Bowl.  He never gave up.  In the fourth quarter with seconds on the clock, he threw a pass into triple coverage.  A decision that he had made on his own after running the clock for 15 seconds and neither of his desired options were open.  An extremely risky pass, tipped by the defense, Brady’s pass was made complete.  Brady is an example of courage as he makes plays with seconds to go that have led his team to many victories (Rohan, 2017).  He is a leader that has been known to be a reliable player, taking the blame for his mistakes and the mistakes of his team.  Brady steps up when necessary even in the most difficult situations on and off the field (Economy, 2017). Matthew Slater said this about Brady in an interview, “We look to him. We have a lot of confidence in him as a player, as a leader, as a teammate, and as a friend. We are thankful he is on our side.” Brady puts a lot of work in to see the success of his team be achieved.

Lastly: Consistency. Consistency is when a captain is holding himself to a high standard, giving it his all in games, and continuing to be caring and courageous when things don’t go their way.  This often causes the individual to become more vocal on and off the court through actions and words (Hackman, 2011).  32,482 career points have given athletes 32,482 reasons to look up to Kobe Bryant.  Yet his example transcends his statistics. (Hansford, 2015).  “There aren’t too many people who understand how you bring it, night after night after night, for all those years at that level, and he is one of the guys who did it,” said coach Greg Popovich.  The consistency that Bryant brought to the court every game was exemplary; he focused on pushing himself and others to be the best version of themselves.  He truly is a man worth recognizing for his love of the game.

Care, courage, and consistency are characteristics that will enhance the influence a captain has on his teammates, and, in turn, lead to success.  These characteristics have created captains who are known to be the glue that holds their teams together while leading their team to victory.

 

References:

Economy, P. (2017, February 4). These 7 Leadership Traits Make Tom Brady the Greatest Quarterback Ever. Retrieve March 2nd, 2017, fromhttp://www.inc.com/peter-economy/these-7-leadership-traits-make-tom-brady-the-greatest-quarterback-ever.html

Hackman, R. (2011, March 1). Do Teams Need Leaders? Retrieved February 27th, 2017, fromhttp://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/do-teams-need-leaders

Hansford, C. (2015, February 16). Kobe Bryant on Leadership: ‘You’re not going to please everybody.’ Retrieved March 2nd, 2017, fromhttp://www.lakersnation.com/kobe-bryant-on-leadership-youre-not-going-to-please-everybody/2015/02/16/

Lauer, L. & Blue, K. Association for Applied Sport Psychology: The 3 C’s of Being a Captain. Retrieved February 20th, 2017, fromhttp://www.appliedsportpsych.org/resources/resources-for-athletes/the-3-c-s-of-being-a-captain/

Lennon, D. (2013, March 30). Those Who Know Him Speak Glowingly of Derek Jeter’s Leadership. Retrieved March 7th, 2017,http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/yankees/those-who-know-him-speak-glowingly-of-derek-jeter-s-leadership-1.4961273

Rohan, T. (2017, February 5). The Greatest Comeback Ever. Retrieve March 8th, 2017, from http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2017/02/05/nfl-super-bowl-51-new-england-patriots-tom-brady-bill-belichick-fifth-super-bowl-ring

Super Bowl 51 and the Psychology of Losing

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

Super Bowl season is upon us.  This Sunday, at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX, the New England Patriots will meet the Atlanta Falcons to determine the 2017 NFL championship.  To the winner will go the spoils: the Lombardi trophy, homecoming parades, changes in team culture, fortifications of team and individual legacies.  To the loser?  Well, that’s complicated, and something that’s often overlooked.

The virtues of winning are well-established.  We’re conditioned to compete, and culturally, financially and biologically rewarded for winning.  Several scientific studies have shown a direct correlation between winning outcomes and testosterone and dopamine levels in the brain, which enhance both mental functioning and feelings of pleasure and well-being (Huettel, 2014). Researchers state that success and winning shape our brains more than genetics and drugs (Hardman, 2013). Success changes the chemistry of the brain, making you more focused, smarter, more confident and more aggressive.

But, as either the Falcons or Patriots will know only too well Sunday evening, losing just as much a part of competition as winning. The cost of winning, and the many rewards it provides, requires that every competition have a loser—or, in the case of the NFL, 31 of them.  Perhaps no one understands this reality more intimately than Jim Kelly, Hall of Fame quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, who lost four straight Super Bowls from 1991-1994.  “There’s always going to be a major emphasis on winning, because that’s just the way society is. That’s just the way our culture is: That you want to be number one at the end. And if you’re number two, at times, there’s no doubt that number two is looked upon as mediocre, as a person that didn’t achieve it, sometimes as losers” (CBS News, 2013).  Perhaps no one better understands victories, either.  Kelly has twice beaten cancer since retiring from the NFL.

The Super Bowl could be decided by a single kick, catch, coaching mistake, or even the 50/50 shot of a flip of a coin at the beginning (CBS News, 2013). Those seemingly insignificant actions are the fine line that ultimately will separate those who win from those who lose. Duke Neuroscientist Scott Huettel, who’s done much work with professional athletes, states that winning is overrated (Huettel, 2014).

So going into this Super Bowl Sunday, and let’s face it the rest of life, keep this in mind. Some of your biggest victories may stem from being able to stomach your worst losses. Winning is both a great feeling and beneficial to our health, but the work you put in to get there is what builds you as a person. Everyone needs to take a few losses here and there to give us a drive and a purpose to better ourselves and really evaluate our lives; something we might happen to overlook if we always won. Without that, where would we be in life? Afterall, majority of the reasons you continue on is because you’re doing something you love. The way you view any competition is what will define the way you see the reward. Whether you’re an NFL player, a high school athlete, or someone just trying to get through your daily life, you know you can’t win every challenge. It’s what you take from each loss, and even win, is what will shape your motivation for the next challenge.

 

References:

Chase, C. (2017, January 23). Super Bowl LI: The 10 most important things to know about Falcons vs. Patriots | FOX Sports. Retrieved from http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/gallery/super-bowl-falcons-patriots-most-important-things-stats-tom-brady-matt-ryan-mvp-012317

CBS News. (2013, February 3). The psychology of winning – and losing – CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-psychology-of-winning-and-losing/

Robertson, I. H. (2012). The winner effect: The neuroscience of success and failure. New York: Thomas Dunne Books.

Huettel, S. (2014). An overall probability of winning heuristic for complex risky decisions: Choice and eye fixation evidence. 125 2: 73-87. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Hardiman, A. (2013, June 20). Your Brain on Winning | Runner’s World. Retrieved from http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/your-brain-on-winning

 

 

 

Communication in Play

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

Take a minute to think about the various ways you communicate on a day-to-day basis. The first few things that come to mind may be talking, texting, or through some form of social media. Even though most communication is nonverbal, when asked about communication, our instinct is to think about the different types of verbal communication we use. That said, my goal here is not to advocate for the importance of nonverbal communication, but rather to help you think about how both verbal and nonverbal communication and interactions can be optimized in order for teams to function at their best.

Athletes win and lose games because of split-second decisions, and, depending on the sport, their decisions are rooted in the information gained from a teammate, coach, or opponent. Whether it’s a coach yelling to shoot the ball or a teammate waving her arms frantically because she’s open under the basket, communication is one of the most important factors in the success of a team.

Verbal communication is the bedrock of a healthy team. Relationships on the rink, field, and court are built through conversation, a necessary ingredient for team camaraderie and fine-tuning team strategies. Verbal communication amongst a team increases its competitiveness due to enabling more productivity and therefore higher performance (Hanson, 2016).

If we consider verbal communication the bedrock, nonverbal communication is what can take a team to the next level. The nonverbal signs passed from teammate to teammate are frequently a predictor of failure or success amongst the team (Goldberg, 2015). Some of the most common nonverbal signs you see in sports are a flash of an eyebrow, tilting at the torso, or the chin solute. But simply using these to communicate doesn’t result in success. The key is for these signs to be interpreted by teammates the way the athlete intended, and it is that interpretation of the nonverbal communication that can make or break a team (Edwards, 2014).

So how do we increase communication among team members? Step one is to evaluate the goals and values of your team. All players and coaches must be on the same page when understanding the team’s values. This will create a platform for each individual to naturally communicate with one another. Step two is learning how to interpret each other’s communication. As communication is fostered throughout the season you will be able to learn how to interpret each player’s differences in communication (Janssen, 2014). This will grow a close-knit connection between you and your teammates, preparing you for competition.

As you continue to watch or play sports, focus on the verbal and nonverbal communication teams have. Identify ways in which you as a player can improve your personal communication as well as your interpretation of team members’ communication while in competiting.

 

References:
Edwards, Vanessa Van. (2014). Body Language in Sports
Goldberg, Jeff. (2015). Sports & Nonverbal Communication
Hanson, Bo. (2016). Importance of Communication in Sports
Janssen, Jeff. (2014). Improving Communication Among Athletes

 

 

What an “Attitude of Gratitude” Can Do for Your Team

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this is the time of year where many of us start to think about what we are grateful for. Maybe it’s our families, our good health, or the win we had last week. Did you know that expressing more gratitude on a regular basis could significantly increase your physical and mental health? Having gratitude has been linked to decreased levels of anxiety, depression, and restless sleep. Grateful athletes have been shown to be more satisfied with their teams, are less likely to experience burn out, and have increased overall well-being. “Feeling like we’re part of a supportive team is fulfilling and motivates us to keep going back,” (Chertok, 2016). This can be felt on all levels of the team–from coaches, to fans, and athletes alike.

How can we promote this “attitude of gratitude” within our teams? There are many ways to show gratitude! Before your next game, have everyone on your team write down three things they are thankful for. By doing this, it not only creates a more positive atmosphere, but also promotes happiness and true enjoyment of the game. You can also reach out every day to a teammate, coach, parent, or friend and express how thankful you are for them. Studies have shown that communicating this gratitude can both strengthen the connection you have and boost moral (Lambert, 2010). By developing deeper connections with teammates and coaches, the opportunities for success dramatically increase. It would also be thoughtful to thank your competitors. Sometimes they may not be your favorite people, but without them, who would push you to be better? The game only goes on if there are others to challenge you. Gratitude is a powerful tool that can help teams and individuals reach their full potential, and help them find why they love their sport. As John Wooden said, “If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointment, we would all be much happier.” Show some gratitude today and everyday! You would be amazed at what opportunities open up for you.

 

 

 

In the Wake of Yeo’s Firing, How Do Coaching Changes Affect Team Performance?

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

Last weekend’s game against the Boston Bruins would prove to be Yeo’s last with the Wild. After yet another loss for the team, Yeo was let go after five years—though he thought his time would continue since General Manager Chuck Fletcher told him that his job was safe just a week earlier. Even after being told that he was fired, he fought for more time to work with the team, not wanting to leave them during the middle of the season. Yeo was quickly replaced by John Torchetti of the Iowa Wild until a more permanent option is found.

The unexpectedness of Yeo’s removal and the certainty he held in his position make the situation tough to handle as a coach. Last Monday the Wild played for the first time under Torchetti—a win—which brings great anticipation for the rest of the season. “They’ll want to be hungry to come out and prove themselves again,” Torchetti said, “But we just want them feeling good about themselves, and then we’ll make our corrections and adjustments, and keep on improving and getting better.” He is not sure what changes need to happen within the Wild yet, but he will make further assessments as the season continues.

Studies show that this change in the coaching staff will affect the team’s performance. McTeer White, and Persad (1995) assert, “In either case the players are relieved when an unpopular* coach is replaced and develop renewed optimism in the short-term.” The players may be relieved by getting a new coach, hoping that this will be the changing factor in their team’s performance. A new coach may improve performance, but it is usually not for long. Lago-Penas (2011) states the following: “The empirical analysis shows that the shock effect of a turnover has a positive impact on team performance over time. Results reveal no impact of coach turnover in the long term. The favorable short-term impact on team performance of a coach turnover is followed by continued gradual worsening in the half of a term.” This short term fix leads to a vicious cycle of coach turnover within the team, which is common in sports across the board and happens at all levels of performance ranging from high school to professional. Whether it is a livelihood or a scholarship that becomes uncertain, every level of play has its own set of problems when hiring a new coach midseason.

However, the dismissal of a coach could lead to a divided team as players split their loyalties between the old coach and the new coach. Simon Almaer, MA MBA, said that when a new coach is hired midseason it is like “hitting a reset button; hierarchies, positions, playtime, and roles are put into question.” This creates an uncertain and unsettling dynamic within the team, which may cause tension. Almaer’s advice for athletes trying to stay consistent through team changes? Focus on accepting the new situation, being responsible for their own game, and minimizing distractions. Building a relationship with the new coach is also helpful, in order to be more comfortable with the situation. Finally, athletes should keep it simple by trying their best and having a good attitude about the new changes within the team.

*We are not implying that Yeo was unpopular; it is just a direct quote about coaching changes in general.

Sources:

Lago-Peñas, C. (2011). Coach Mid-Season Replacement and Team Performance in Professional Soccer. Journal of Human Kinetics, 28, 115–122. http://doi.org/10.2478/v10078-011-0028-7

McTeer, W., White, P. G., & Persad, S. (1995). Manager/coach mid-season replacement and team performance in professional team sport. Journal of Sport Behavior, 18(1), 58. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/215868828?accountid=8593

 

In a Slump? Turn to Your Team

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

Slumps are inevitable. Every athlete, every coach, and every team experiences them at one time or another. They occur for a myriad of reasons: chronic injury, inability to maintain focus, or a combination of the two and more. No matter the cause, our first and foremost priority is escaping the slump. However, while doing so, many athletes press, leading them to an extended and possibly worse slump.

The Minnesota Lynx have lost five out of their last nine games. Not a horrific slump—they’re not on a nine game losing streak—but still, for a team that has been known to excel, playing below .500 is not where they want to be. Recently Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve was asked about how her team plans to improve:

“We’re going to try to keep perspective about things,” Reeve said. “We know what our challenges are. We’re working really, really hard to be a good basketball team. Every day. Every moment we spend together is a step forward.’’

Every moment they spend together is a step forward. Often in slumps we get stuck in a bad rhythm and try to pull ourselves out of it. We stay late to practice, spend more time visualizing, and do everything we can to make ourselves better. However, we sometimes forget that we are not alone in the situation. Even if the team is succeeding and individuals are slumping, we are not alone. Utilize your team. It doesn’t matter if you play an “individual” sport; you may not have “teammates,” but you have a team. You have a team of people who strive to help you reach your full potential. Leaning on other people for support is a necessity—we can pick each other up. Your team knows your skills as well as you do; they work with you day in and day out to help you improve. As the old adage goes, two heads are better than one. You don’t need to solve your slumps by yourself. Much of the work may need to be done by yourself, but you don’t need to go through them alone. Your team is there to help and support you. As Coach Reeve said, every moment you work with each other is a step forward. Next time you’re in a slump, reach out to your team. Chances are they’ve been in a similar situation and know how to help you out.

Six Traits of Mentally Tough Athletes — Including the U.S. Soccer Team

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

All eyes will be on Vancouver this Sunday as the U.S. Women’s soccer team takes on Japan in their second consecutive World Cup Championship game. In order to reach the finals for two straight tournaments, we know the athletes have not only incredible physical strength, but also extraordinary mental strength. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe spoke with NPR before the World Cup began about what distinguishes the U.S. team: “I think traditionally, we’ve always been very fit and fast and physical, and we have that sort of physical element that we can just outlast teams,” she said. “And we have that grit and that mentality that we’re never going to quit.” That grit is an integral part of what has led to the team’s success—and is also an integral part of being mentally tough.

In their book, The Mental Game Plan: Getting Psyched for Sport, Drs. Stephen J. Bull, John G. Albinson, and Christopher J. Shambrook outline six characteristics of mentally tough athletes:

Strong desire to succeed

Stay positive in the face of challenge and pressure

Control the controllables

High commitment with a balanced attitude

High level of self-belief

Positive body language

From Rapinoe’s quote alone, it is easy to see that the U.S. team embodies these characteristics. The team’s determination and refusal to quit aligns with characteristics 1-5 (and if you look at pictures of the team in action, you’ll see No. 6 as well).

So how can you embrace these six skills and be mentally tough like the U.S. women? What do they really mean?

Strong desire to succeed – Why are you playing your sport? We imagine it’s because you love it and have fun while playing! Your No. 1 priority should be to enjoy what you’re doing. Then, that love for the game will transfer over to your desire to keep getting better. “Succeeding” does not necessarily mean winning the championship or being the best player on the team; rather, it’s about setting your mind to a few, tangible goals and working hard to attain them. These are progress-oriented goals—like taking a few deep breaths before you make your next pitch or becoming 5% stronger over the next two weeks. The real success is when you achieve these progress-goals throughout the year!

Stay positive in the face of challenge and pressure – Athletes of any sport, especially at high levels of competition, endure a lot of stress. Making excuses and complaining won’t help you get any better. Mentally tough athletes challenge stress head on by staying positive throughout their competition.

Control the controllables – In order to be mentally tough, you need to recognize that there are some things you can’t do anything about. The refs, the weather, the past—recognizing that there are aspects of the game out of your control will help you become more aware of what you can control. You can control your effort in practice, your attitude when you miss a rebound, and what you’re doing at the current moment, to name a few. When you focus on what you can control, you put more conscious effort into making those aspects of your game better instead of worrying about what’s out of your hands.

High commitment with a balanced attitude – Having a balanced attitude means that you need to be dedicated to your sport while also being dedicated to other aspects of your life like school, family, and friends. Enjoy your sport while you’re playing, but if something bad happens during a game or practice, don’t let that negatively affect your mood when you leave the field. Mentally tough athletes recognize that they need to focus on sports while training, but they need to be engaged with other parts of their life as well.

High level of self-belief – We all know that we won’t make every basket or catch every pass from the quarterback, but that’s ok! If you stay focused on the present moment—on the basket you’re about to shoot or the pass the quarterback is throwing right now and you say to yourself over and over that you can do this and you will make the basket/pass, then more often than not you will make the shot. If you believe in yourself, you will be able to turn those thoughts into actions.

Positive body language – When you swing at a pitch outside of the zone, do you slam your bat down in frustration or do you take a deep breath and tell yourself that you’ll get it next time? Standing upright with confidence will in fact make you more confident. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s those who realize that they can be better next time that are mentally tough and successful.

Mental training takes time just as physical training—you can’t get better overnight. Next time when you’re skating around the rink, take a few deep breaths, remember what you can and cannot control, and believe in yourself. Those quick mental skills will put you steps above your opponent—as evident by the U.S. women’s soccer team only one step away from a World Cup Championship!

 

A Tip for Coaches: How to Bring Your Team up When They’re Down

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

We’ve all been there: a negative state of mind when the game isn’t going well. It’s easy to get to that place, too. It starts with an error, a bad play, or some missed shots. Before you know it, your athletes are walking away from the competition with their heads hung low. If there’s anything that has the ability to spread quickly and to set in and take hold in our minds, it’s negative thinking. However, there is a silver lining. Dr. Justin Anderson, a licensed sport psychologist, has some key advice for coaches:

“The best thing that you can do for your athletes when they’ve hit a rough patch is to simplify the game. Give them one task to focus on; one goal that they can attain. It’s important to bring their minds back to one task that is important now.”

He suggests that instead of focusing on the end result, a win, break it down by giving your athletes a goal: getting positive yardage on the next drive or a defensive stand before the period runs out. When your athletes are in the moment and focusing on what they need to do right then and there, they’re going to perform much differently. When athletes have goals to build on, they can start building some really good momentum. He furthers this with a couple of quotes from Coach John Wooden, who is not only famous for his NCAA wins, but also for his many poignant, inspiring words:

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

In his years of being an athlete and a sport psychologist, Dr. Justin knows how easy it is for an athlete to get overwhelmed. Coaches sometimes focus too much on the negative. It’s obvious that as a coach, your goals for your athletes are to have them compete well and to hopefully win, but it doesn’t always improve your athletes’ performance when they’re being drilled on what they’re doing wrong.

“The players already know that they aren’t supposed to fumble or that they’re supposed to make their shots. As a coach, you need to make a point to tell them what to do instead of what not to do.”

Next time your athletes are down, take a deep breath, and bring them back up. Give them a moment to be in. Know that your athletes have the ability to perform better and that looking toward success instead of pointing out failures is what can bring out the best in them. Small victories can easily boost morale and be a huge game changer. Keep the goal simple, but make sure that it’s something they can build on–getting that positive momentum going can be crucial.

Seattle Seahawks Team up with Sport Psychology

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

When Pete Carroll was fired by the Patriots following their season in 1999, he had only one option: to move forward.  Carroll did just that and came away with a whole new frame of mind. He’s been with the Seattle Seahawks since 2011, and so has Mike Gervais, a high-performance sport psychologist. Both men understand that winning a game or building a successful team isn’t just about what happens on the field. In a “suck-it-up” NFL culture where players are all too aware about their personal well-being and lives being uncared for, they’re bringing a softer side to football. The idea is that happy players make for better players.  And that idea works.

Focus on the mental training and needs of the players through meditation sessions where the players are encouraged to be introspective and visualize their goals is hugely important. “Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice,” Russell Okung (Seahawk Offensive Tackle) says. “It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them.”

Dedicated to the mental well-being of their team, Carroll and his colleagues pride themselves in finding players with positive attitudes. If you take one look at their Quarter Back, Russell Wilson, you can see the success that it has brought to their team. “I truly believe in positive synergy, that your positive mindset gives you a more hopeful outlook, and belief that you can do something great means you will do something great.” This is nothing but the truth from Wilson. He’s known for setting goals and records alike; achieving and even surpassing them. In 2012, his first year in the NFL, Wilson led the Seahawks to the playoffs; one of only 6 rookie QBs in NFL game history to win a playoff game. He finished the regular season ranked #4 in NFL passer rating and tied Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdowns scored by a rookie. To top it off, Wilson has even started his own charitable organization: The Power of Mind Foundation.

The “experiment” going on in Seattle may have other NFL teams scratching their heads, but the goal is to change the way that the football franchise approaches the well-being of the players. There’s a public stigma about psychologists: in order to work with one, something has to be wrong. Fortunately, the Seahawks are paving the way in proving that this idea holds little value.

Full Article: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9581925/seattle-seahawks-use-unusual-techniques-practice-espn-magazine