Tag: Sport Psychologist

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

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

 

 

You have a question? We have an answer. — Becoming a Sport Psychologist: Part 1

By: Premier Sport Psychology

If you have a question, please let us know via Facebook or Twitter! We hope to answer it in a future blog!

With sport psychology becoming a growing field—especially so since many professional teams are hiring people to work with their athletes on the mental side, many are wondering how one makes a career in sport psychology and what it takes. Below are some commonly asked questions and answers to help get you started.

What are sport psychologists and how do they differ from mental game coaches?

Most generally, sport psychologists are licensed psychologists who are trained in psychological skills training, athletes’ mental health, team dynamics in sports settings, psychological factors that influence performance, assessment of psychological and performance variables, and more. Mental game coaches also work with athletes on the performance side of sport, but they do not have specific training in mental health and are not licensed. You know the old saying that every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square? Every sport psychologist is a mental game coach, but not every mental game coach is a sport psychologist. For more information about sport psychology, click here.

Do I need to go to graduate school to become a sport psychologist?

Yes. In order to become a full-fledged licensed psychologist, you’ll need to earn either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. and then complete further requirements for licensure depending on which state you want to practice in.

Is there only one set path to becoming a sport psychologist/mental skills coach?

Absolutely not! Our sport psychologists have all had very unique experiences. Learn more about how they got where they are by clicking below.

Dr. Justin Anderson

Dr. Carlin Anderson

Dr. Alexandra Wagener

Simon Almaer

As a student, what kind of experience should I be trying to get?

As far as experience goes, working with athletes of any level will help you along the road, as will doing research. Reach out to various sport psychologists and firms for advice and to see if they have any internships—many will post information on their websites. In order to find sport psychologists, quick Google searches will take you a long way, and check out AASP’s (Association for Applied Sport Psychology) website.

I want to open up my own sport psychology practice. Any advice on what I need to know?

Make sure you know how to run a business and who you can reach out to for help. While a doctorate degree will help you become a sport psychologist, it won’t necessarily help you with the day-to-day operations of owning your own company.

I’d like to work with elite athletes—how can I get there?

First, realize that many people want to work with elite and professional athletes, so don’t be upset if it doesn’t happen right away! You need time to prove yourself and get the most experience that you can. Work with colleges and universities: try to get a position on their medical staff and work with athletes there. It may not happen right away, but you can put in the time and the effort!

Good luck to all on your sport psychology journey, and check back for future blogs answering more questions! Again, if you have a question, please let us know via Facebook or Twitter