WestHam Premier League Coach Gets Sports Psychologist

I love seeing sports psychology getting a good run in England’s Priemier League

Top footballers can become mentally focused with the help of sports psychologists, it has been suggested. Sam Allardyce, manager of Premier League team West Ham United, told BBC London 94.9 that such assistance has become an important part of pre-match preparations for his side.

He noted the more mentally-prepared a footballer is, the more he is likely to achieve on the pitch.

“I’ve always said a player who plays in the Premier League plays there because of his intelligence and his brain, not because of his skill ability,” Allardyce added.

Well done Sam Allardyce!



Des Hasler Use Sports Psychology At BullDogs

Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey

Grudge match: Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey go head-to-head on Friday night. Source: The Daily Telegraph

IN his six months at the Bulldogs, Hasler has stunned the club with his work ethic. He arrives at 6am every day and is the last to leave at around 8pm.

Video sessions, meticulous attention to detail, sports science and sports psychology are all staples of his success.

via Des Hasler adds spice to Manly v Bulldogs grudge match | Herald Sun.

Aussie Olympic Gold Medallist Using Sports Psychologists

Mitcham admits that the pressure of being the defending Olympic champion nearly worried him into retirement while he was injured, but credits sports psychology with turning his attitude and focus around.

“To me, seeing it as going to defend my title I find to be quite negative, because anything other than a win is going to be failure,” he said.

“And this was the mental approach I had as I was coming out of my injuries, and I found that it wasn’t conducive to me getting back into the pool.

But with the help of sports psychologists I’ve framed it to be more of a positive event for me, and seeing it as – I’ve already won an Olympic gold medal, so anything on top of that is a bonus.”

via Mitcham, Wu talk up London hopes – News – BigPond Sport.

Majority of NZ Olympic Champions Failed At Their First Attempt

“The Olympic environment can be a huge distraction,” Carter says. “There’s a lot of added pressure with a once-every-four-year spectacle. The desire to be successful can crush you. The country is watching.

“Athletes try to control or block that out but it changes the game, making it mentally hard to manage. That was my mistake in Sydney; getting caught up in it all.

Can You Instill Mental Toughness?

Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

US Marine Corps Drill Instructors put recruits through upper body exercises called planks
during the 54-hour Crucible event January 7, 2011 at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, South Carolina.

To be mentally tough is to resist the urge to give up in the face of failure, to maintain focus and determination in pursuit of one’s goals, and to emerge from adversity even stronger than before. Psychologists claim that almost everyone can benefit from strengthening these skills, even those people we might consider paragons of mental toughness: army drill sergeants. The U.S. military is now implementing a resilience-building program, designed by a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, intended to make soldiers as rugged in mind as they are in body. This effort—one of the largest psychological interventions ever attempted—holds lessons for anyone who wants to strengthen their mental muscles.

Drill sergeants were chosen to receive the training because they’re in a position to teach the service members under their command, promoting a trickle down of psychological resilience. The program’s key message: Mental toughness comes from thinking like an optimist. “People who don’t give up have a habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary, local and changeable,” notes Penn psychology professor Martin Seligman, describing the intervention in a recent journal article. When such individuals encounter adversity, they think to themselves: “It’s going away quickly; it’s just this one situation, and I can do something about it.” Sergeants learn to analyze their beliefs and emotions about failure, and to avoid describing failure as permanent, pervasive and out of their control — all characterizations that undermine mental toughness.

Another pillar of psychological fortitude is the ability to resist “catastrophic thinking” — the tendency to assume the worst. Seligman’s program offers examples drawn from army life: a sergeant stationed abroad doesn’t hear from his wife back home and concludes that she’s left him; a sergeant receives a negative performance evaluation from his commending officer and immediately thinks, “I won’t be recommended for promotion, and I don’t have what it takes to stay in the army.” Participants learn to fight back against such negative thoughts, challenging their accuracy and searching for a more positive spin — while also making sure to reflect and act on genuine concerns and problems.

Lastly, the drill sergeants in Seligman’s program are taught two capacities that might seem at odds with mental toughness: gratitude and generosity. Participants learn how to “hunt for the good stuff” — to look for and appreciate the ways in which they are fortunate. And they learn not to judge too hastily subordinates who themselves seem to lack grit. The participants are offered this scenario: “A soldier in your unit struggles to keep up during physical training and is dragging the rest of the day. His uniform looks sloppy and he makes a couple of mistakes during artillery practice. You think to yourself, ‘He’s a soup sandwich! He doesn’t have the stuff of a soldier.’” The sergeants are warned against over-generalizing about others based on a few pieces of information, and encouraged to cultivate strength in junior soldiers instead of rejecting those who don’t make the grade right away.

Similar interventions with civilians have succeeded in reducing participants’ vulnerability to anxiety and depression. While evidence of the program’s effectiveness for soldiers heading into combat is still being gathered, it is hoped that enhancing resilience will help reduce the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide among service members and veterans, which has soared to record levels during the United States’ military engagement with Iraq and Afghanistan. The 10-day training session, which also focuses on building personal strengths and fostering positive relationships, can’t address every psychological issue that soldiers may face. But sergeants who graduate from the program return to drill practice with a new kind of ammunition: a keen understanding of how to toughen the mind for the daily battle against adversity.

Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/04/19/can-you-instill-mental-toughness/?xid=gonewsedit#ixzz1sr1PfL45

NCAA Winning Volleyball Coach Hires Sports Psychologist

Andrea Becker, fourth from left, has worked all season as a full-time sports psychologist and assistant coach for
UC Irvine head man John Speraw, second from left. (Courtesy of UC Irvine / April 19, 2012)

To paraphrase one of Yogi Berra’s incisive gems, 90% of sports is half mental. Now while the mathematics of this assertion are clearly open to question, UC Irvine men’s volleyball coach John Speraw has long believed that the mental side of his game has been undervalued.

Well-known for his innovative mind and lab-coat mentality on the bench, Speraw seized an opportunity this season, his 10th at UCI, to analyze how having a sports psychologist on his coaching staff could impact the performance of the program.

“There was no blueprint,” Speraw said of hiring Andrea Becker, a professor of sports psychology at Cal State Fullerton, to replace longtime assistant David Kniffin, who left after last season to become a women’s assistant at Illinois. “Has it worked out as I originally anticipated?  No. But the end result has exceeded what I had hoped.”

Read the full story here

Olympic Rowing And Paul The Psychic Octopus

Red shirts on Sundays, a fortune-telling octopus ... where will superstition in sport end? Graphic: Liam Phillips
Red shirts on Sundays, a fortune-telling octopus … where will superstition in sport end? Graphic: Liam Phillips

I enjoyed reading the blog of Olympic rower, Sally Robbins, talking about the difference between pre race routines and superstition

And despite the Psychic Octopus having an 80% success rate during the 2008 European Championships, I think Sally’s words are much more reliable

It made me reflect on how rampant superstition is in sport. How many athletes are so reliant on their “lucky shirt” or mascot that, were it to go missing, they would be defeated mentally before the competition even started?

Is it just a mental thing, or do superstitious rituals really work?

Most superstitions are based on the notion that if you conduct the same behaviour as you did when you were successful, the same good fortune will return.

This may seem a little absurd, however some coaches and athletes really think superstitions give them confidence, belief and a sense of security.

I think the real value in superstitious rituals is that they take some of the pressure off the athlete. If you believe that doing a specific action or behaviour will make you perform better, then you probably will. It’s almost like a religious belief – the onus isn’t solely on your performance, partly your fate sits in the laps of the gods.

Superstitions such as when Tiger Woods wears a red shirt on Sundays, Steve Waugh’s red handkerchief – which was given to him by his late grandfather – and Ricky Ponting’s battered Baggy Green are just a couple of examples that have no doubt helped these stars on to incredibly successful careers.

This is all part of sport psychology. Using rituals such as visualisation or guided imagery to recreate past success is a proven way of preparing mentally and physically for competition.

As well as my usual routine to prepare for racing I’ve had a few things that I have worn for good luck such as socks, a hat and a guardian angel pin that I have associated with successful races. However, I’ve been wary of becoming too attached to these things in case I lost them or didn’t have them for some reason on race day.

As silly as it may seem, I do feel that they added assurance and as a result allowed me to relax and enjoy racing, which brings out your best performance.

I think whatever makes an athlete perform at his or her highest potential should be embraced as long, as it’s within their control.

So maybe relying on a soothsaying octopus isn’t such a good idea after all!”

You can read the who story here…

What Sports Psychologists Do…

I’m here to help them focus. I’m here to help them believe in themselves. I’m here to help them develop an individualized mental plan that helps them get the most out of their development,” said Yukelson, who is also a past president of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

Thanks you Dave Yukelson, Sport Psychologist, Penn State University

via Sport psychologists help athletes focus beyond Final Four | Inside Higher Ed.