RSS Feed

Develop Team Captains

Many coaches designate team captains at the beginning of each season. I myself was a team captain on multiple teams throughout my career. A speech I saw at the AASP 2014 Conference made me realize that coaches usually lack intentional leader development. leadershipMost coaches appoint team leaders at the beginning of the season and then never revisit the issue. Coaches commonly assume that team captains know what’s expected of them and how to perform their duties.

It isn’t that simple. In order to have an effective team leader, coaches need to play an active role in developing those qualities that make a great captain. When designating a leader, coaches need to first understand their own definition of leadership. Define leadership on your own before designating a captain. This will help to solidify your choice in athlete to become the team leader.

Most coaches pick a player, pull the slot machine lever, and hope they help lead the team to victory. This hit or miss strategy isn’t the most efficient. In order to get the most out of a team captain, the athlete needs to understand exactly what is expected of them. As a coach, write out the duties you expect your team captain to perform throughout the season.

What duties are you expecting your team captain to perform?team cohesion chico

  • Are you expecting them to help with instruction?
  • Do you expect them to keep their teammates on task?
  • Do you expect them to deal with conflicts between teammates?
  • Do you expect them to be the messenger between the team and the coach?
  • Do you expect them to lead warm ups?
  • Do you expect them to help their teammates make smart choices on saturday night?
  • Do you expect them to designate which jerseys the team wears?

Explicitly lay out what is expected of the team captain. This way, once a leader is designated, the athlete will know exactly what is expected of them and where to focus their energy.

Being a team captain is no easy task. leaders are expected to be friends with their teammates but also be looked at as a person of authority. They wear many hats; they are a friend, a mentor, an advocate for the team to the coaches, a student, an athlete, a representative,and a role model. Vans-PartyWearing all these hats can be a STRESSFUL position to be put in. Finding a balance between friend and captain can be a slippery slope. Great captains will always put the team before themselves, and this can sometimes cause their own personal performance to suffer.  Team captains can tend to get so caught up in their role as team captain, that they lack the emotional and physical resources to put their all into enhancing their personal performance. THIS IS OKAY. As a coach you can help your team captains get through this and allow them the time to settle into their new role.

Leadership can be seen as a continuum. It is a skill that needs to be developed. Offer team captains the resources they need to fulfill their role successfully. ducksBring in speakers, give them articles or books, and ALWAYS give them an open door to come in and discuss their difficulties. It’s beneficial for team captains to have someone they can come to with concerns and struggles. There are situations where they will need advice and support for the decisions that need to be made. It can be helpful for team captains to have a mentor that they can confide in and discuss issues. Set aside specific meeting times for your team leader to come in and talk about what’s going on. Role playing difficult situations can really help the team leader deal with situations effectively.

Intentional leader development is an invaluable focus for teams to put forth. It’s easy to simply designate a team captain at the beginning of a season and send me them on their way to lead the rest of the season. Captains are going to need a coaches support to be the best they can be. L.E.A.D. – learn from theory, experience through practice, analyze through reflection, deepen through mentoring. Don’t leave the success of team captains up to chance, help them become the captain that will lead the team to Victory.

 

 Quote of the day: 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” – John Quincy Adams 

 

Implementing Self Determination Theory

This past month at the 2014 AASP(Association for Applied Sport Psychology) Conference I had the privilege of hearing Edward Deci Speak. Edward Deci is a world renowned researcher who is most famous for his work with Self Determination Theory. Self Determination edwarddeciTheory states that athletes have three basic needs that need to be filled in order to foster intrinsic motivation; competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Intrinsic motivation is something we experience in instances where we are motivated to do something because we enjoy it, the task engrosses us, and we don’t require external rewards to keep our motivation. When athletes are driven by this type of motivation they tend to excel; when we love something we want to do it all the time and have the desire to improve. An atmosphere that fulfills the above needs for athletes is called a needs supportive environment. These are environments where athletes can truly thrive and reach their maximum potential.

Competency: Athletes need to be able to demonstrate their abilities in order to feel as if they are competent in their sport. Autonomy: Encouraging autonomy through self initiation and choice reinforces their internal drive by giving them more control over their progress and success. Relatedness: Showing athletes that they belong and are apart of something bigger than themselves fosters our universal need to belong and interact.

So as a coach how do you create a needs supportive environment that caters to your athletes needs SelfDeterminationTheoryand fosters intrinsic motivation? Below are a few simple ways coaches can do just that. As you read through the following examples keep in mind pressure is the number one killer of intrinsic motivation.

Relatedness:

Try to relate to and understand your athlete’s perspective. Acknowledge their emotions and the way they see things. Listen to your players and validate the way they feel. “I know it’s hot out and you guys are working hard, I appreciate that.” “I know it’s boring to take 70 swings at a hitting station by yourself.” Let them know that you can relate!

Provide meaningful feedback. Be specific; a simple “good job” doesn’t inform the athlete which skill they performed well. Make sure you insert a specific aspect in your praise. For example; “that was great, you kept your hands inside the ball on that sports-vballlast swing.” Try to give feedback Immediately after the action is committed. Giving feedback so quickly helps to reinforce specific skills as opposed to whole performances. By giving athletes meaningful feedback you are conveying that you care about their progress, your athletes will feel like their progress is an important factor in the teams success.

Give a rationale for requested behavior. If coaches offer reasons for the behaviors they request from their players, the athletes feel less controlled. On the team I currently coach, our players were braiding each others hair during our warm up time. As the coaches we told them this behavior was unacceptable. At first they were frustrated and angry; they wanted everyone to look uniform and ready for competition. After we explained that hair braiding needs to take place prior to warm ups because it’s distracting, they were more accepting of our rule change. They now understand that it is hard to mentally prepare to play a softball game when they’re physically focusing on braiding hair. Giving reasons for the rules and expectations of the team helps athletes to feel on the same level as the coaches, they are apart of the team, not being controlled by the team.

Autonomy

Encourage self-initiation and experimentation. Intrinsic motivation is derived from doing something because you enjoy it, and want to succeed or participate. Encouraging self-initiation and experimentation gives athletes control over their progress and success. Allow them to try new things, and find new ways to succeed. Let them be apart of the coaching process. Ask them what they think they should do to better their performance and then help them create an action plan to attain it. Make it their choice to get better.

Offer relevant choices. Reinforce the autonomy of your athletes by allowing them to make relevant choices. For instance, if you know you are going to work on both defense and offense at practice, why not let them choose which one they do first? Allow them to put together their own warm up routine, like I’ve mentioned before in my blog; Autonomy breeds pride. sport_laBarbera_06Pressure kills intrinsic motivation; try not to force your athletes to work hard or even participate. Give them the choice, they know what the consequences are but the choice to participate is completely up to them. The key to this approach is keeping emotion out of your voice. Implying you will be angry depending on the choice they make is the same thing as demanding they participate or work hard. Use an even tone and let them know the choice is up to them. When they do choose to participate, you are reinforcing their autonomy by encouraging self initiation.

Competency

Calibrate for optimal challenge. Athletes need to practice and compete at the edges of their abilities. This way they fail and succeed at a rate that keeps them motivated. Make sure practices, and the level of competition pushes your players but also allows them to achieve success. This threshold of success and failure reinforces their need to feel competent. They will be able to demonstrate their competency by improving and achieving success despite their failures.

Focus on indirect rather than direct competition. Indirect competition refers to athletes competing against themselves, whereas direct competition is when athletes compete against an opponent. When athletes compete against themselves, they focus on progress and being their personal best. There is less pressure in the situation and they can easily see their progress, in turn driving their motivation to keep progressing. I’m not suggesting that all direct competition is bad. It’s important that when athletes partake in direct competition, their personal best is acknowledged and you as a coach reinforce the parts of their performance they can control. Athletes can never control the performance of their opponent, they need to focus on their own personal performance to succeed and recognize their progress. I talk a little bit more about this in my blog: Where is Your Confidence Coming From?

Minimize use of controlling language. When athletes continually hear must, should, or other language that controls their actions, they feel as if they aren’t good enough to govern themselves. It also evokes pressure which again is an intrinsic motivation killer. Try to keep the controlling language to a minimum and let your athletes thrive.

They key to producing elite athletes is instilling a love for the game, something they will come back to over and over again simply because they love the sport.

Quote of the day:

“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.” – Mia Hamm

Put Happiness First

03Our society is a little backwards. We say work harder so you’ll be more successful and that will make you happier. However when we work hard and achieve success, we then just push our expectations higher. So our brains never really get to revel in that successful feeling and immerse itself in happiness.

Why don’t we work backwards? Studies have shown that “happier” people perform better in many contexts. Doctors make quicker more beneficial decisions, and students perform higher on tests. This is because these “happier” people have more internal resources to dedicate to their successes, in other words they have fewer negative distractions. Research has done studies that ask participants to increase their happiness levels. This is done by learning to live in the moment, increasing gratefulness, engaging in random acts of kindness, engaging in meditation and regular exercise. If we could increase the happiness indexof our athletes they would have more personal resources to put into sport. We could help athletes enjoy their sport despite the outcome of competition.

Increase an athlete’s happiness? That sounds like quite the daunting task for a coach. I’m telling you it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it may actually make coaching easier in the long run. Here are a few simple things you can do to assist your athletes in becoming happier more productive assets to your team.

Living in the moment: As humans we tend to spend only 53% of our time actually living in the present moment. We are constantly worrying about or anticipating future situations or analyzing and reliving those in the past. We don’t give ourselves the opportunity to get lost in the present moment. Matt Killingsworth found that the more we let our minds wander, whether our thoughts are negative or positive, the less happy we tend to be. So how do we stay in the present moment and how will that improve sports performance? When you realize your mind is wandering and you aren’t focused on the task at hand, silently name 5-10 things that are positive and within your present experience. For instance if an athlete is at practice and they realize they are thinking about their weekend plans or last nights TV episode, they might recite these five things silently: 1) I am outside on a beautiful day and the sun is shining. 2) I am surrounded by teammates that I enjoy spending time cd_skatepark_getout_061611_32with. 3) I am playing the sport I love. 4) I am about to take a fly ball. 5) I feel confident in the way I’ve been performing at practice. These thoughts immediately bring the mind to the present and keep thoughts focused on the task at hand. This immediately increases the mental focus of athletes and helps them to perform at a higher level because they are using product thoughts to aid their body’s performance. Matt Killingsworth’s Ted Talk

Count your blessings: Expressing gratitude to someone else has been found to increase happiness by 25% according to research. Those who are thankful for the good things in their life tend to be more optimistic, energetic, empathetic, and generous. It’s easy to dwell on the negatives in this fast paced, ever changing, social media crazed world we live in. Give your athletes a chance to be grateful for the positive things in their life everyday before or after practice. Team members, as well as coaches, can share out loud 3 things they are grateful for, or you can have teammates partner up to share their gratitude for the life they are living. Being grateful for the way things are today is another way of living in the present moment and keeping distracting thoughts at bay.

Random acts of kindness: this-beautiful-random-act-of-kindness-was-photographed-give-this-awesome-guy-a-like-for-caringResearchers have conducted studies where they give participants $20 dollars. The participants are either told to spend that money on themselves or someone else. Results suggest that those participants who spent their money on other people were happier and more satisfied with their purchases than those who spent it on themselves. Happiness research has come to the conclusion that random acts of kindness leads to living a happier life. As a coach you can make this part of your team culture. Make it apparent to your athletes that generosity, selflessness, and kindness are highly valued on your team. After all they are key characteristics of a good teammate. Set up friendly challenges where athletes strive to outdo each other in the number of random acts of kindness they commit in a day. It can be things as simple as lending a stranger lunch money, giving a stranger a compliment, bringing a teammate a new hair accessory, or bringing a special snack for the whole team to enjoy after practice. These acts of selflessness will show the athletes that they are in this together. When someone is willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the group others tend to feel more secure and are willing to put forth more effort. Knowing that their teammates are putting others before themselves will help the team come together and be stronger on their rise to victory.

Regular exercise: Since I am focusing on sports regular exercise is 4bb87f872f32423626104be6b8f010a5418f1c93something that you as a coach are already taking care of. However, sometimes the workouts we get as an athlete aren’t enough. Encourage your athletes to do more off the field, keeping our bodies healthy is a foundational step in attaining higher levels of happiness.

Meditation: I’ve never been a promoter of meditation but a Ted Talk I watched a while back gave me a new perspective. We all know it’s imperative that we let our bodies rest; sleep is the time when we recharge our batteries so we can function at the proper levels the next day. As athletes we stretch our muscles, and rest our bodies between practices and competitions in order to heal and reboot. However, we never give our mind this courtesy. Our minds are constantly going 100% all the time. We are thinking, worrying, wondering, focusing, calculating all day long, and then when we go to sleep we dream. Our minds never get a moment to shutdown and reboot. This is where meditation comes in. Giving the mind the break it needs can be the key to seeing the world and ourselves in a whole new light. Ask athletes to take ten minutes out of their day to do absolutely nothing; no mind wandering, no texting, no TV, no reading, just being. Ten Mindful Minutes Ted Talk

Using this philosophy and working “backwards” to success will show your athletes that you care about their well being. When an athlete knows that a coach cares about them as a person and not just an athlete that aids in the teams success, they are more willing to go above and beyond for that coach. Increase their happiness and in turn1247259.large increase their commitment to the sport, and their drive for success. Happier athletes are more productive athletes simply because they have more resources to put forth.

Quote of the day:

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

An Alter Ego as a Competitive Edge

Posted on

As a young pitcher my disposition was naturally cheery on the mound. I was smiley, and for the most part, completely relaxed. My personality Brian+Wilson+San+Francisco+Giants+Photo+Day+kRgjKI-PYv1lhelped me throw well and kept me calm in pressure situations, but I wasn’t exactly intimidating to the opposing batters. I lacked the intensity of a foo-man-shoe mustache that most MLB relief pitchers sported back in the day. My coach thought I needed a “fear the beard” edge over my opponents. His solution, sunglasses; every time I went on the mound I was ordered to wear sunglasses in an attempt to intimidate the batters I faced. This memory got me thinking; maybe the girls who need a little extra umph out there on the playing field could create an alter ego to release their inner all-star. Beyonce does it, why can’t we!

Sasha Fierce is the infamous alter ego of Beyonce Knowles that allows her to be sassy, sexy, and all kinds of fierce during her on stage performances. ‘When I’m onstage I’m aggressive and strong and not afraid of my sexuality. The tone of my voice gets different, and I’m fearless. I’m just a different person”-Beyonce.?????

Alter ego’s can be a source of mental preparation before taking the field. Instead of going through their mental routine before competition to prepare themselves to play, athletes could focus on transforming into their alter ego personality. This personality may be a little more intense, a little less outwardly emotional, and more self-confident than their normal self usually is. I’ve always felt that the competitive side of me is different than my everyday personality anyway so creating an alter ego may actually help athletes put their game face on.

Give your alter ego its’ own name and its own look.This new persona should be very vivid in your mind, see their body language and how they hold themselves. Know how this person would react in all situations, to failure, to distractions, to successes, and injuries. Even give your alter ego a background story. Where do they come from and why are they so unbreakable on the field. The more filled out this character is, the easier it will be transform into them at game time.

Pulling on this persona before competitions and practice will allow you to leave reality and step into work mode. Life distractions will seem more distant because they aren’t a part of your alter egos reality, they only know sport. Pulling on your alter ego suit will take some practice. Take a few minutes to step into your new persona just before practice and games. For a while you may have to re-engage your new persona during game breaks like Billy Chapel from For The Love of the Game, “Clear the Mechanism”. 

It takes just as much effort to mentally suit up as it does to physically suit up. Take the time to let your mind leave reality and enter the world of competitive sport. Maybe the best time to transform into your alter ego IS while you are suiting up. Visualize yourself changing into that person as you change into your practice gear or game day uniform. Let it be known to your teammates, they should be able to tell the difference between the normal you and your competitive alter ego. Commit to your new character, the less you break face, the easier it will be to become your alter ego when you need it.

Alter egos have helped many notable people in history to be the successes they became. Take the time to create the best athlete version of yourself you can, and next time you step out onto the field, GET YOUR GAME FACE ON!

 Quote of the day:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela 

Keep a Sport-Life Balance

Posted on

The statistics pertaining to youth sport participation are disheartening; 70% of children who are participating in youth sport will drop out by the age of 13.

My question is why didn’t I? Why did I play through college, coach through grad school, and am now pursuing a career that is centered in sport?

l_d987f0bc17a5915b185d4660a6bbf411

NCS Champs 2007

I specialized in one sport at a very young age; I played competitively almost from the get go, and even specialized in a single position by the time I was 17. I had all the warning signs of being an athlete who would burnout before reaching my full potential. So what kept me in the game?

I had a sport-life balance. Although I spent the majority of my time on the softball field, the people in my life helped to keep sports in perspective. Sports were a piece of my life, not my whole life. There were other more important things and values; my worth as a person didn’t solely reside on my performance as an athlete.

n1050120142_22030_5473

Opening night of Boulevard Cinemas

l_43d1af2dad984b3198e30c51c6083939

Working on the homecoming float my senior year of high school

The most obvious example of the sport-life balanced I achieved as a young athlete was in the diversity of my social circles, and the events that filled my monthly calendar. I grew up on a court where three other girls around my age lived. None of them were involved in sports like I was so our friendship was well rounded; we grew up running around our neighborhood experiencing and focusing on other things besides sport. I was also heavily involved in girl scouts, the six other girls in my troop made up some of my closest friends throughout high school. At the age of 15 we opened a theater in our hometown, an accomplishment that bolstered my confidence and added to my worth as a person off the softball field. (Read more about the teens who opened a theater in 2005 HERE.) The friends that I hung around with at school weren’t  involved in sports either, so again I had opportunities to develop other parts of myself; opportunities to be proud of things that had nothing to do with softball. I also had a long term boyfriend throughout high school that attended a school 20 minutes south of me, so I became very close to his friends and family which again added diversity to the people who were important to me. These people who made up my social life all valued me for more than my softball abilities. Some had never even seen me play, so my performance as an athlete was irrelevant to our friendship. It caused me to grow up in an atmosphere that catered to all of me, and helped to give myself worth in all areas of my personality, not just the piece of me that excelled on the playing field.

l_d8a2fe1573084a9784cef0e91c6846e1

Team trip to Disneyland

l_8ce6b9aab2114ae0a3d964c4b722be9d

White water rafting with the team in Park City, Utah

I was also privileged enough to grow up in a family that was able to take vacations outside of softball tournaments. As I got older my softball team flew all over the U.S. to compete at the highest level. However, my family was fortunate enough to be able to take an additional family vacation each summer. It kept it in perspective that sports were important, but family time was highly valued as well. Not only did I get to experience genuine family vacations, but I had a coaches who understood that for some families, our tournaments were their family vacations. As a team we made every out of state trip a fun family experience as well as a serious competitive outing. Our coach allowed the team moms to plan water rafting trips, team dinners, horseback riding excursions, and once in Park City, Utah we even went on a team hot air balloon ride! My coaches knew the value of having a sport life balance and let us genuinely enjoy our tournament trips. Some of my most favorite memories are from these tournaments and everything we did made me fall even more in love with the sport. Doing other activities while traveling also allowed my teammates to get to know me as a person, not just an athlete. You learn to appreciate your teammates for more than just their athletic performance; you also learn to value the other pieces of yourself.

l_3c6a5f15fb13db1979475bf263089120

Playing powder puff football my senior year

My parents were the most prominent influence of keeping my life balanced between sport and other experiences. The house I grew up in bordered a regional park. On my court lived three other girls that were around my age. Also on the court were kids who were a few years older, and others who were a few years younger. At any given time there were anywhere from 1-13 kids to play with, and a plethora of open space to do so in. My home life away from the softball field consisted mostly of free play with my neighboring peers. Some of which my parents probably weren’t too thrilled about; like tying a rope to a bike seat and holding on for dear life while being pulled on rollerblades. I was lucky enough to have parents who let me be involved in “risky” activities (like the one mentioned above) without reprimanding me to stay un-injured so I could compete. This example may seem subtle, but little things like this that were noticeable on a day-to-day basis were the most influential in keeping sports in perspective. It was a constant reminder that there was more to life, and myself, than sport.

l_7a06513d79c88b8b6ed94a45900d5659

Posing with our high school rival team

Athletes who have a diversity of experiences and people in their lives learn to value all dimensions of their personality and abilities. This quality helps athletes who encounter chronic slumps, difficult teammates, and unfavorable coaching stay in the game. They can stick with the sport they love through the pitfalls and hardships because they have developed as a whole person and see the value in other experiences; Keep kids in sport by fostering their development as a whole child, not just an athlete!

 Quote of the day:

“A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.” – Mary Lou Retton

A Glimpse Into Two Different Mindsets

Posted on

I got the opportunity to spend a couple days with a JV softball team up in Sacramento this past season. I got to observe two practices and a game. I was taken aback by the passion, drive, and enthusiasm these girls have for their sport.

As a freshman in high school I played varsity ball and I never got to experience the JV level. These girls don’t have dreams of playing in college; they aren’t obsessed with beating out the girl next to them to get a look from a college coach. SHS_JV_Softball_undefeated2014These girls just simply love the game. They love to play and want to spend as many minutes on the field as they can. They eat up coaching and ask for more of it when they don’t get enough. Their sole desire is to improve. Every ounce of their mental capacity is focused on the task at hand. They are supportive of each other to a fault. No matter how unsuccessful a teammate is performing they are genuinely supportive. They are patient, kind, and extremely encouraging. This is the atmosphere I’ve been striving to instill in my teams for years. They really accept every player for who they are and aren’t judgmental of their skill level. They just want everyone to try their hardest all the time, and they do! They work hard without a peep from their coaches, it’s all them all the time.

It was an amazing display of a mastery climate created by the players themselves.

My biggest question is why? Why has this atmosphere been so effortlessly created on this team? I think the answer lies in the research of Carol Dweck; the difference between the growth and capacity mindset. Individuals who posses the growth mindset are constantly looking to improve, they believe that with hard work anybody can improve at anything. These people welcome failure, and challenges, because they are opportunities to learn and grow. Capacity mindset is a whole different ball game. These folks believe that abilities are set. You either have it or you don’t, there isn’t any real opportunity for immense improvement. These people avoid failure at all costs, they are constantly trying to put themselves in situations where they can show off their talents because they need to prove themselves. They need to reaffirm their abilities to others consistently because there is no room for improvement.

Without the pressure of having to prove themselves to a college coach, the JV girls are able to embrace failure and focus on learning and developing their talents. Where as the varsity girls get caught up in always trying to look the best so college coaches don’t notice their flaws or weaknesses.

226930_1041855400537_9933_n

Winning the NCS Championship my senior year of high school

This is a pretty broad statement; all varsity athletes have a capacity mindset and all JV athletes have a growth mindset. That’s not exactly what I’m saying. I’m inferring that maybe because most varsity athletes have been talented since they were kids, they may have been referred to as “natural athletes”. Well, as a natural athlete, the talent you have isn’t something you worked for, therefore you aren’t in control of improving it. However, athletes who weren’t always the greatest, probably weren’t ever told this, and they learned from a young age that they were going to have to work hard to be able to play ball at a competitive level. They learned that hard work and repetition lead to improvement.
Although I made varsity as a freshman, I was never considered a “natural athlete”. In fact, most thought I would never play in college. I had to work really hard for the successes that came my way. Looking back, I’m thankful that I didn’t have “natural talent”, it made me take control of my ability and push my way to the top. It’s something that still impacts my life today; I may not be the best at what I do, but I am constantly looking for opportunities to learn and better myself. Where I am today is just a starting point, I am in full control of developing my abilities to get to the top of my field.

Quote of the day:

“Don’t tell me how talented you are. Tell me how hard you work” Artur Rubenstein

How Stress Can be Helpful!

Posted on

Anxiety, we’ve all felt it. It’s the cringe in your stomach when you step up to the plate. It’s the feeling of clammy hands making it difficult to grip the club on the last hole. It’s the shortness of breath before taking a free throw shot. nervous-sweatingIt’s excessive perspiration ruining a shirt before a big speech. It’s a pounding heart as the starting gun sounds. It’s the body kicking into overdrive stimulating the fight or flight response.

The field of sport psychology has developed multiple approaches and strategies to fight the negative side effects of competitive anxiety. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation aim to quiet the mind and the body, decreasing the heart rate and in turn quieting the racing mind.

However, a simple change in perception can be just as beneficial to controlling those pre-game jitters. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, is known for taking research and turning it into easy useful methods for the everyday person to utilize. In her latest Ted Talk she speaks about how to view stress in a positive manner. I found her approach to work very well, especially in preparation for competition.

Most of us interpret the above stress syndrome as negative. We think, oh no I must be really nervous for this performance. But what if we started to view that stress response as helpful? If we thought, oh my heart is pounding and my breath is quickening my body must be revving up for competition. lacrosse-games-beginThe pounding heart just gets more blood to my muscles which helps them perform more efficiently. The increase in breath rate is helping to increase the oxygen in my bloodstream to help my body work harder. Researchers found that this simple change in perspective actually changed the physical stress response in participants. They still felt the pounding heart and the sweaty hands, however, their blood vessels didn’t constrict as they did previously. This allowed for better blood flow throughout the body and was actually a helpful response!

Next time you are walking up to the plate for an at bat and feel your stress response kicking in, view it as a positive thing! It is helping your body prepare for competition, embrace it, and use it’s power!

For more information watch the “Making Stress Your Friend” Ted Talk

Quote of the day: Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one” Hans Selye

Live Love Sport

Improving your mental game

Secret Life of a Startup

Some things you can't complain about at work

M I Initiatives

Belief in Human Potential

Raymonds Sports Performance Training

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

The Truth Warrior

Empowering and Inspiring people to be fully authentic, loving, happy, peaceful and joyful in their lives.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 742 other followers

%d bloggers like this: