Tag: Sports

The Use of Psychological Profiling in Drafting

By: Premier Sport Psychology

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/

 

 

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

Adversity: (N.) Fortunate Misfortune

By: Premier Sport Psychology

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

 

March Madness and Focus

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

March Madness is here, and fans are itching to see which NCAA Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball teams will be the last ones standing. People from all over the United States have made predictions about which teams will advance and which ones will crumble. Logic, however, rarely gets its way when it comes to March Madness. Every year, we witness unexpected upsets and blowouts. So why are some teams more clutch than others when it comes to the games that matter most? The answer may lie heavily in the players’ abilities to exercise one mental skill properly––focus. Every team in the tournament has physical talent, there’s no doubt about that. They are all well-trained and conditioned for highly competitive moments like these, but which teams can truthfully say that they are as prepared mentally as they are physically? Those who can are the teams who will likely wind up advancing furthest in the tournament.

There are two primary ways in which players can enhance their focus on the court. The first method involves concentrating on the processes and actions which have helped them to achieve success during past games. Some athletes almost involuntarily form game-day consistent routines over time as they progress in their careers. These may include things such as listening to pre-game music to calm nerves, taking the same number of dribbles before a free throw, or thinking back to past achievements and attempting to replicate the actions and mindset which aided in attaining those achievements. Players who have not yet created routines could greatly benefit from doing so, as these may help them to focus on the task at hand, as opposed to becoming overwhelmed or letting their nerves get the best of them. By performing dependable procedures and drawing on previous successes throughout each game, players are able to build confidence through consistency. Rather than merely focusing on the score and on wanting to win, they are keyed into the processes which can ultimately help them to do so.

A second way players can amplify their level of focus is by thinking about the controllables of the game rather than the uncontrollables. Within the sport of basketball, uncontrollables may include factors such as expectations from others, qualities of the opposing team (e.g., size, speed, skills, reputation, and character), playing time, and calls made by the refs (Competitive Advantage, 1999). Concentrating on these aspects of the game takes mental energy away from a player’s own actions and from what they as an individual can do to perform optimally. If a player cannot change something, then the only way to get around it is to deal with what they can change. Doing so inevitably helps them navigate the unchangeable factors of the game, thereby giving them a better shot at winning. Controllables such as communication, hustle, drive, aggressive play, and encouragement of teammates are all examples of factors which can have significant effects on the outcome of a basketball game.

The games during March Madness are not the only ones for which focus is paramount. In fact, this idea is not at all exclusive to basketball. No matter your sport, it is advantageous to concentrate on the processes which have helped you to be successful in the past. Additionally, everyone can benefit from allowing themselves to let go of what they cannot control, because doing so frees up the mind to focus on the things which can be done to maximize success. It is a waste of time and energy to think about and dwell on how you could change something that you do not have power over. In the same light, concerning yourself only with the aspects of the competition which are within your control can substantially help you in bringing your A-game during those clutch moments. Focus is key for all of us, because if your mind is not where you need it to be, then it is very likely that your results won’t be, either.

 

Competitive Advantage. (1999, October). Staying Cool and Calm in the Clutch. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from https://www.competitivedge.com/staying-cool-and-calm-clutch

Coach’s Corner. (n.d.). 7 Keys to Becoming a More Focused Basketball Player. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.ussportscamps.com/tips/basketball/7-keys-focused-basketball-player

 

 

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

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

 

 

Sticking with it: Motivation to Follow Through on Goals

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

I’m sure that we have all experienced a time when we didn’t want to follow through with a task at hand. Either we got bored, felt like the task was too difficult to complete, became burnt out, or couldn’t see the benefits that would arise upon completion. Whatever the reason may be, we’ve been there. The good news is that there are various approaches that can be taken to fix this problem, one of them being, “keeping your eyes on the prize.”

Everything that we do is done for a reason. For example, baseball players both young and old are required to go to batting practice. It has become part of their pregame routine to take dozens of extra swings in preparation for competition. The purpose, as told by the Oakland hitting coach Chili Davis, is that “batting practice is a time to create and foster good habits. The guys who do it and do it right are the ones who are more successful.” (Caple, 2014) The same thing goes for volleyball players. “A setter will come close to making one third of all the ball contacts by the team.” (USA volleyball) This means that they better be darn good at what they do, or the team won’t be successful. But how do they achieve this skill? The answer is that they make goals for themselves and lean into them. They practice footwork, hand contact, vision, etc. time and time again so that they can deliver the perfect ball to their hitters. They want success for their team, so they keep their eyes on the prize during all of those days of practice and problem solving.

Another tactic that can be used to stay motivated is to take a different approach. Sometimes the way you are doing something won’t feel right or may seem more difficult than it should. In this case, taking a step back and re-analyzing your methodology towards the task may be a good option for you. Being able to identify a couple tweaks and changes that could be made may change your outlook and experience in ways you didn’t know were possible!

Last of all, reward yourself! Nothing worth having ever comes easy, right? So instead of just looking at the big picture (which may appear a little daunting), make small goals for yourself along the way. When you reach one of those milestones, reward yourself. One way you could do this is to treat yourself to a nice breakfast the next morning, or to document your success in writing. Reading and reliving your accomplishments may give you the right drive to continue forward on your journey. It is important to be able to recognize your own progress, which will not only allow you to celebrate the successes, but will also let you know how much further you have to go in reaching your primary goals.

“The discipline you learn and character you build from setting and achieving a goal can be more valuable than the achievement of the goal itself.” -Bo Bennett

 

References:

Caple, J. (2014). Batting Practice: Swings and Misses

USA Volleyball (2013). Thoughts for Setters

 

 

Want Lower Stress? Keep Free Rolling like Jordan Spieth

By: Premier Sport Psychology

Free RollingBy: Premier Intern Staff

 

This weekend we look to our neighbors to the east, Wisconsin, as the final men’s golf Major Championship commences. Teeing off at 2:20pm CST today in the PGA Championship include Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked golfers in the world, respectively. There has been a lot of talk about Spieth in 2015 as he has emerged as a top tier golfer and amassed the first two majors in 2015. More talk piled up as he went for his third Major Championship, the Open Championship, back in mid-July. He missed a tie for the lead by just one stroke, which would have led him into a four-hole playoff with the other leaders. Even so, throughout his tournaments following the Masters, Spieth and his caddy, Michael Greller, have used one phrase to keep them going: free rolling. In numerous interviews Spieth has credited this “free rolling” as a way to alleviate stress during the rounds.

In early April, Spieth—just 21 at the time—had won his first Major Championship and was embarking on the second. The pressure was off. He had already won one of the majors and so he had the confidence that he could perform similarly at the U.S. Open. In order to maintain his peak performance, Spieth and Greller kept free rolling—keeping themselves as relaxed as possible. This free rolling eventually led Spieth to a second consecutive Major Championship and a second place finish in the third major of the year.

Spieth and Greller’s motto is a macrocosm for any athlete in any endeavor. Undeniably, if you’re an athlete, you’ve experienced success at least one time in your life. Don’t just leave your successes in the past—use them to enhance your future. At your next practice, game, competition, etc. remember your previous successes and use that emotion to help fuel your performance in that moment. If you trust your training, visualize yourself achieving your goals, and keep “free rolling”, you may very well achieve what you’ve been working for.

Meet our Newest Mental Skills Coach, Simon Almaer

By: Premier Sport Psychology

Premier Sport Psychology is excited to have Simon Almaer as our newest mental skills coach. Simon will be working with individuals and teams, helping them to achieve their full potential. Below is a quick interview with Simon so you can get to know your potential mental skills coach!

All right, Simon, let’s start with a bit about your background.

Simon: Well, I was born in London, England. Sports were a big part of my life growing up, and my primary sport of choice was cricket. That was, from age 6 to 21, other than my studies, that was my passion. My dad was a high level coach, and so I represented my county (similar to a U.S. state) on regional teams as a youth player, and then when I got to university, I had the opportunity to play first class cricket (akin to the professional level). I went to Oxford to study Chemistry and received both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees before moving to the states in 1991—largely to marry my wife who is from Minnesota.

What has your career looked like since moving to Minnesota?

Simon: I worked in Corporate America for 20+ years for companies like Pillsbury and Cargill and had a wide range of roles during that time. After starting as a scientist I moved into marketing and general management roles working on brands like Häagen Dazs and Pillsbury. During that time I got my MBA from the University of Minnesota. I had a lot of fun experiences working around the globe with various companies.

What made you leave Corporate America for sport psychology?

Simon: I played cricket for my first few years in the states, but after hanging up my cricket bat I focused my sports passion on coaching soccer. I’ve coached youth soccer in the Twin Cities for 15 years and still do. I have a number of different coaching licenses and degrees, and so as I came up on 20 or so years in Corporate America I started to think about how to better fuel my passion for working with young people and athletes to help them reach their full potential. I wanted to pursue a different area of study in a different professional area and so I pursued a sport psychology degree through Mankato State. I am also working on my certification by the professional association AASP (Association for Applied Sport Psychology).

What work are you doing with Premier?

Simon: My emphasis at Premier is working both with individuals and teams on performance enhancement. I’m a mental skills coach—whether its athletes, performers, or people in the business world, my emphasis is helping them get better at what they love doing. I love working with coaches and administrators—people who are charged with developing their athletes. The people who work with the athletes day in and day out deserve time and attention so they can develop their skills and, from being a coach, I believe that can often have a bigger impact on the system of youth sports. I want to be a positive influence in the youth sport climate—I think I have something to share and I have a real passion for it.

Thanks for taking the time to do to this get-to-know-you. To wrap it up, can you give us one fun fact about yourself?

Simon: During my first few years in Corporate America I still played cricket. The highlight was playing on the U.S. National Team against Canada in the 150th year anniversary of that match.

To learn more about Simon, check out his bio or call our office at 952.835.8513.

Food for Thought — Emotions at the MLB Trade Deadline

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

At 3:00pm CST today, many MLB players will exhale a sigh of relief. The July trade deadline will have passed, and players won’t be worrying if they’ll be sleeping in a different city tonight. For fans, trades are exciting—many of us become glued to Twitter and MLB Trade Rumors tracking the numerous transactions. We want to see who is going to make the biggest push for October. As Rays’ pitcher Chris Archer recently tweeted, “If anyone wants to know what it looks like to be all in, check out the Jays.” (Toronto has been just one of many teams moving players around the league.) For players, trades bring anxiety. While the quick trades are fun to follow, we sometimes lose perspective that trades quickly uproot players’ lives.

Now, trading is a part of the game and makes for late summer runs for a few teams, but with the ever-expanding platforms of social media, players are affected by rumors more and more often. Take the Mets’ Wilmer Flores, who thought he was being traded when he received an overwhelming round of applause as he stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning. With many news outlets, including the New York Times, reporting that high-ranking team executives were leaking a trade of Flores to the Brewers, word spread like wild fire around Citi Field. Flores, now 23, was drafted by the Mets on his 16th birthday and had been with them ever since. He was visibly upset on the field, wiping away tears on his sleeve as he took the field in the top of the eighth. After the game when Flores was addressing the media, he said he was upset because he would have had to leave his teammates and the only organization he has ever known.

Once players are traded, they have to move their families, find new homes, and start anew in a different city. While all teams have personnel to help make the transition as smooth as possible for players, it’s still an emotional process that could always use more assistance. Players move the minute they’re traded and go play for another team; their families are the ones who have to deal with the stress of moving or not moving (which can leave months of being away from husbands/fathers). While trades have been and will be apart of sports always, a new method of coping around the trade deadline may be needed.