What is the Benefit?

The benefit of youth participation in sport is constantly being questioned. What do these youth gain? Parents ask this question as they make the decision to enroll their children in various programs. Taxpayers ask this question as athletic directors fight to keep programs in school districts. It doesn’t help when the media focuses on the negative in an effort to gain ratings. To be honest there are some programs that need a lot of work; however, there are so many programs out there making a positive impact that it’s just a matter of doing the research.

Take a look at the Run Buddies program. This is a running program that pairs youth with mentors. While learning about nutrition and fitness, these youth also learn mental toughness and have an outlet to discuss any issues they have in their life. Run Buddies shows that successful programs are not a result of monetary support but because of quality coaches.

It’s easy to give the list of benefits. Sports teach personal responsibility, teamwork, communication, sportsmanship, mental toughness, etc. Making a list is easy, but structuring a program to truly teach these life lessons takes work. This is why coaches can benefit from working with a Sport Psychology Consultant. A consultant can teach coaches how to better demonstrate and reinforce these skills. Then, instead of just listing the gains, coaches can watch their athletes put these skills into action.

If you are a coach looking to strengthen your program, contact SPINW.

About the AuthorLisa Peetz received an M.A. in Sports and Exercise Psychology.  Lisa is an avid runner who appreciates and is addicted to marathon running.  She uses her athletic experience in her mental skills training by individualizing skills to be both sports and life specific. 

Strapping on the Three Goggles

“Strapping on the Three Goggles” – a case study in team cohesion and positive mindset
“If you can take care of the things off the court it will follow on the court,” said Mills. “Me and Rudy’s friendship and whatever we have is great off the court, so I believe that is why we feel so connected on the court.”

If you’ve watched the Portland Trailblazers play this year, you’ve undoubtedly seen the “three goggles” come out. And if you’re like me, you’ve thought, “That’s funny, but what the heck are they?”

As the 2010-11 NBA season began, the Blazers faced a lot of uncertainty. With so many players returning from injury, new players coming in, and some unhappy players, it was definitely a rocky start. One of the disgruntled players was Spanish superstar Rudy Fernandez, a solid defender, creative dribbler and passer, and deadly 3-point shooter. His game somehow didn’t quite fit the team last year and being unpleased with this, wanted out of his contract and back to Spain. The Blazers balked and he was here to stay.

Most of the time, an unhappy player is unpredictable and expected to not play at a high level. Fortunately for Rudy, he has some close friends on the team who made him laugh, and helped make things fun again. That positive mindset has helped solidify Rudy in the Blazers rotation, in the process helping keep the Blazers in the playoff hunt.

About the Author: Brian Baxter received an M.A. in Sports Psychology.  He teaches individuals how to identify and build awareness of their difficulties, their areas of improvement and their strengths and implements strategies to make the process second nature.

Post Event Depression

Within days following a marathon, I see many posts about post marathon depression. After weeks of physical and mental preparation, it’s easy to feel down when the big day is over. I came across a Runner’s World Blog that addresses post marathon depression, and it has some useful tips for all athletes. These feelings don’t just happen after marathons, but after any big sporting event that a person has invested their time and energy into. Hence the first tip of being mindful! Athletes need to become more aware of their post event/game feelings. Emotions can affect choices made during recovery, and future goal setting. The suggestions in this blog are simple; however, it’s important to remember that motivation to give them a try may be lacking if an athlete is already starting to feel down. If you are stuck in a lull, don’t be afraid to seek support. A strong athlete knows the importance of a solid support system! 

About the Author: Lisa Peetz received an M.A. in Sports and Exercise Psychology. Lisa is an avid runner who appreciates and is addicted to marathon running. She uses her athletic experience in her mental skills training by individualizing skills to be both sports and life specific.

Identity and Performance

Have you ever stopped to think about how athletic performance fits in with your identity? How does athletics shape your attitude and influence how you make decisions on a daily basis? Give it some consideration! Do you see yourself as someone who is a little competitive or an athletic warrior?  Are you performance driven or do you use athletic opportunities to practice perseverance through challenge? Maybe athletics is just a part of a healthy life style and it is enjoyable.

Clarifying how athletics shapes your identity can be helpful in many ways. The clearer your understanding of who you wish to be, the more you can tap into that identity strength during moments of challenge (e.g. Last big hill and I am someone who never gives up…trying harder!) Acting in those moments and being focused improves performance and strengthens that characteristic of your identity. 

Positive self-talk is a very powerful tool. Positive self-talk is that inner dialogue we have that helps us think more precisely about what we are trying to achieve in the moment. It gives us direction and helps to distract from unproductive thoughts. More technically, “it is an internal dialogue in which the individual interprets his/her thoughts and feelings, regulates and alters evaluation and convictions, and gives themselves direction and support” (Hardy et. al., 2001).

For example, if your identity is one of being a challenge seeker you use self-talk to focus your energy on overcoming obstacles and avoid the distraction of worrying about comparisons with other people in moments of great athletic challenge. You may remind yourself the goal is taking on the challenge in the moment, not being the first to cross the finish line. The narrowing of the focus will allow you to concentrate your mental energy where it serves you best at a given time. 

You can design specific self-talk phrases ahead of time to use during your athletic performance. “I am” statements are helpful for strengthening motivation and clarifying your identity. Here are a few examples, “I am someone who pushes through and finds success” “I am someone who distinguishes him/herself by making the extra effort”, “I am master of my body and mind”, “I am loving this challenge”. Write these down and then practice using the phrases when you hit a tough moment. Your focus will raise your motivation, help you to give a better effort, and help strengthen your identity. You’ll find that using these statements throughout the day will strengthen your performance in other areas as well.

Have Fun!

About the Author: Dr. Eric Bergreen, an NCAA champion, four time All-American, and former team captain at UCLA, has a doctorate in psychology and specialization in sport/performance psychology and derives great enjoyment out of teaching people how to find the best part of themselves, improve their performance, and feel the pride of their success.

The Positive Declaration

The Positive Declaration

I love this video! This kid is positive, pumped, excited, and confident to start her day!  Imagine if you could go into training or competition like this. How much more enjoyable and positive would your experience be?

A powerful tool used in sports psychology is the Positive Declaration.  It is more commonly known as the positive affirmation, which unfortunately, people cannot help but think of pathetic 12-stepper Stuart Smalley when they hear it.  


In his book The Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker contrasts the softer “affirmation” with the more powerful and assertive “declaration.”  By definitions, I definitely agree, and like the term “Positive Declaration” too, especially for athletes.

Affirmation: the assertion that something exists or is true; confirmation or ratification of the truth or validity of a prior judgment, decision, etc. Declaration: a positive, explicit, or formal statement; proclamation; something that is announced, avowed, or proclaimed

What is a Positive Declaration? Why does having a Positive Declaration help athletes?  As the  defined above  a Positive Declaration is a statement about yourself that you know to be true, and proclaiming it out loud or to yourself puts you in a positive mindset.   I will give you two examples from recent athletes I have worked with.

Sally, a racer, was having trouble with anxiety before competition. The drive to the event site, the wait for her run, and other “free” time only added to her anxiety.  Her Positive Declaration, “When I am relaxed, I perform at my best.”  At her next event, she used this declaration to keep the nerves away.  She ended up winning her last heat of the day!

Joe, a soccer player, was going through a rough patch in his personal life (due to family issues that were not his fault), that was affecting his performance on the field. His Positive Declaration was “Nothing is going to stop me from achieving my goals.”  He printed out this statement and put it on his dresser so that it was one of the first things he saw each day. The idea was to move past his family issues so he would be able to focus on his training and compete normally.  Two weeks later, he revealed that it had an unintended effect – he started scoring goals!  Normally a set-up type player and a little conservative, he found himself believing that nothing was going to stop him from achieving his goals of playing at the next level.

What do you want to achieve today? What do you want to accomplish?  What do you know to be true about yourself that is important for sports? Write it down and declare it to yourself daily.

About the Author: Brian Baxter received an M.A. in Sports Psychology. He teaches individuals how to identify and build awareness of their difficulties, their areas of improvement and their strengths and implements strategies to make the process second nature.

Thinking Positive

More evidence on the power of positivity

Despite some prior studies demonstrating the benefits of positive comments to athletes, there are still those of the opinion that a criticism-based commentary style is better for development. New research out of the University of Exeter may put those opinions to rest.

The study focused on golfers, both professional and amateur. The golfers received consistent positive emotional support from researchers. The support ranged from listening to their thoughts and problems to giving positive feedback regarding skills and performance to helping with everyday tasks, such as travel arrangements.

And the results were clear – over the 10 competitive events played by the golfers during the course of the study, they showed an average score reduction of 1.78 strokes. How significant are these results? Given that four players at the top of the leaderboard were separated by only 2 strokes this weekend at Quail Hollow, they seem to be pretty important.