I started getting good at basketball in high school. I was physically growing into a more athletic body and my hard work in the gym and weight room was finally paying off. I remember it being an exciting time as I made varsity as a freshman and was zeroing in on basketball being the one sport I was going to fully dedicate myself to.
Unfortunately, the girls around me didn’t share in my excitement, especially the ones who were slowly watching their ‘best’ status fade away, either because their 5’10” stature in middle school wasn’t really cutting it anymore or because the mall was more important to them than working on their jump shot.
So I remember that initial positivity about my success slowly disappearing and jealously, back-biting, and general nastiness taking its place.
My game slowly started getting worse as a result of this negativity. I’d stop shooting and focus only on passing to make other teammates happy. I’d keep my points...
One of the first things I tell the athletes I work with is this: I'm not here to fix you - there's nothing that needs to be fixed. I'm here to reveal more of you.
I tell them this because in the past so much of sports psychology has been rooted in psychology (duh), which is about pathology (i.e. fixing those of us that need help).
These days, thanks to people like Martin Seligman and the Positive Psychology movement, we realize that psychology isn’t just about fixing (though it can be). It’s about enhancing.
In a sentence:
Just because you don’t NEED help doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it.
And yet, some athletes still believe in the stigma of the sports psychologist: that using sports psychology in their training somehow means they are weak and not self-reliant.
And that’s a confidence killer.
Take one of the top badminton players in the world who, by all accounts, failed miserably mentally in a recent...
It’s truly a marvel of modern science that we have so many different ways to reduce injuries, minimize their effect, speed up recovery, rehabilitate after trauma and generally allow an athlete to compete with injuries that, even a decade ago, would have kept them on the sidelines.
In my own collegiate years, I used a variety of contraptions I’d never heard of before: a bone-growth stimulating machine, high-powered ultrasound, an automatic pressurized ankle boot, and a pocket-sized electric stimulation machine. I had customized orthotics, mouth guards, braces and one very confusing shoulder sling … custom made, of course.
Physically, I was more than taken care of, and I have no doubt that each one of those elaborate and costly contraptions helped me a great deal. I’m grateful for that. But psychologically, I had few resources to turn to when I was injured.
Teammates, coaches and trainers...