Tag: Success

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.

What it Takes to be Successful

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

In her famous TED Talk, Angela Lee Duckworth tackles a question our individualist culture continually strives answer: What does it take to be successful? In just six minutes, Duckworth explains through her experiences teaching math in New York City public schools and studying people from West Point to the National Spelling Bee that the most successful people embody one specific characteristic: grit. As she most eloquently says in her talk:

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

She goes on to explain that we can encourage the development of grit by referring to Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck’s theory of a “growth mindset,” or the belief that one’s ability to learn is not pre-determined but can be changed with effort.

While not directly talking about sports, these theories are very much applicable to athletes. The athletes who are the most successful are the ones who show up first to practice and leave last. They are the ones who fuel their bodies with nutritious foods and get enough sleep so they can have the stamina to perform at optimum levels. They are the ones who don’t believe their skills are fixed because they have proven that wrong: they have seen their talents develop through hard work in and out of practice.

If you want to be successful, you need to put in the effort—“day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month…”

Click here to hear Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED Talk on grit.

Click here to hear Carol Dweck talk about the “growth mindset.”

 

Interview with Megan Kalmoe: Two-Time United States Olympic Rower

By: Premier Sport Psychology

Megan Kalmoe competes at the elite level in rowing and does everything she can in order to prepare for her racing opportunities. Athletes like Megan have to ask themselves questions about how well they are fueling their bodies or if they are working harder than their competitors each and every day. But, once Megan Kalmoe is on the starting line, there are no more questions. During a recent interview, I asked Megan about getting in her zone during races. She said that it’s difficult to articulate because going fast is something that doesn’t require much thinking; it just happens. For her, what happens after the start is simple: she just goes. She trusts in her physiology and in all of the intense training that has allowed her lungs and body to function so efficiently during races. However, the preparation that enables her success amongst the best athletes in the world does not only require tremendous physical training. Megan Kalmoe also uses mental preparation in order to be entirely equipped on the starting line.

Megan uses her brain as a muscle and makes sure that she is mentally strong in order to coordinate her arms and legs during races. This combination contributes to her speed and dominance. Her brain is especially involved in her race preparation in different ways during visualization and imagery. When Megan is racing with one other person, her pair partner, they walk through the race out loud together and discuss their plan of action. They decide on which key words they will use (such as “commit”, or “together”) and they know that these specific cues will allow them to focus on the same thing. With this, they accomplish fluency and power together in order to pass competitors or get even further ahead. They also involve multiple senses while practicing imagery. Being able to actually see the course going by, and walking through the same race several times allows them to be mentally prepared and confident that their plan and focus cues will fuel them to success.

In the recent World Cup Championships, Megan Kalmoe raced in a larger boat – the eight – allowing her to experience a different type of visualization with more of her teammates. Her coxswain talked the eight rowers through the entire length of the race, simulating the intensity and feelings that the boat would experience on the water in France. Megan and her teammates trusted in each other’s ability to take the lead together, and ultimately prevailed during this race. Their race execution and victory over the other countries shows the strength of their physical fitness and psychological mindset. Kalmoe and her teammates raced in the pair event only a few hours before, where she also medaled. Her focus allowed her to be successful in both of these races because she was able to transition between the two events and stay in the present moment. She maintained concentration on the things that she was able to control and stayed motivated and confident; she gave everything she had in both of her races.

I am thankful that I had the chance to talk to Megan about these races and what it takes not only to be an Olympian, but a world-class rower. Megan Kalmoe’s incredible physical strength is admirable, and her confidence, motivation, and drive are techniques that I want to use in my own races at the collegiate level. Sport Psychology has been beneficial to me as an athlete by allowing me to strengthen the mental skills that are involved with techniques such as maintaining focus and visualization. Strengthening these mental skills is useful to Olympians like Megan Kalmoe, and can be used at any sport or performance level to give athletes a mental edge and competitive advantage.

Sara Scarbro, University of Minnesota Rower